Staying at the Top of the Search Engines

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How contractors can optimize for voice-activated devices

In 2023, Google made three algorithm changes to the way they rank websites. If you rely on, or want, your website to bring you business you need to keep up with the changes. Although Alexa and Siri have been around for a while, I frequently see client websites that are not anywhere to be found on voice-activated devices.

As technology evolves, changes in search engine functionality and consumer behavior impact how many people are able to find your website. The rise of voice-activated devices has changed Internet searches, keywords and more. To keep up, contractors must learn about natural language queries, how to incorporate conversational keywords into their websites and how to optimize local SEO for voice search. Contractors that optimize their digital marketing efforts can capture more local traffic and drive more leads.

In this article I discuss the impact of voice search on search engine results and provide practical tips for contractors to optimize their websites for voice-activated devices. With this information, you can understand how the changing landscape of Internet search queries impacts your business. This information will also help you make changes to move your website ahead of your competitors.

Related: Your Google Profile Can Put You on the Map

Keywords vs. search queries

The terms keywords and search query are often used interchangeably in online environments in discussions about digital marketing. It’s important to understand the difference between these two terms and how they can impact your Internet traffic.

keyword is a word or set of words that are incorporated into a website to help search engines find a website. A search query is a set of words that an Internet user types into a search engine to find a relevant website.

When optimizing a website to allow search engines like Google to rank it (a process called search engine optimization or SEO), it’s important to incorporate keywords that closely match the search queries used by people using search engines. 

Understanding natural language queries

The search engine queries that people use when they type are different from queries that people use when they speak. When you sit down at your computer or open your phone to run an Internet search, you may type a very short query into the search engine. For example, if you’re baking chocolate cookies and want a chocolate cookie recipe, you may simply type the words “chocolate cookie recipe”.

If you were to ask your voice assistant to run a query for chocolate cookies, you’d more likely use a full sentence to make your request. You might say, “Alexa, look up the best chocolate cookie recipe from scratch.” The digital marketing industry calls this a natural language query. This is an Internet search that utilizes natural, conversational language to make its request. 

Natural language queries are usually longer than typed queries, and usually take the form of a full question or fully formed sentence. Natural language queries may also be more specific in their request. If you’re a contractor building relevant keywords into your website and content, incorporating keywords that target these longer queries can help you drive traffic to your website. 

Incorporating conversational keywords

Conversational keywords are usually long-tail keywords, meaning they consist of more than three keywords in a row. The process for incorporating conversational keywords into your website is similar to the process used to incorporate shorter keywords into your website. First, you’ll identify which keywords are best. Next, you’ll start creating content that uses these keywords naturally and strategically throughout your website. 

Optimizing your website for voice search

Optimizing your website for voice search is important for generating leads. Some examples of things you’ll need to do to optimize your website for voice search include:

  • Know who you’re competing against. Who ranks on the first page of the search engines for the keywords you want to rank for? What is making their website rise to the top when yours is not? While you may think you know who your competitors are, a reliable way to find out is to conduct market research. Preparing a marketing analysis is an excellent way to focus your marketing efforts and avoid wasting your time. 
  • Conduct keyword research. Use online tools like ahrefs.com to find out which search queries, including long-tail search queries, will be most effective for use on your website. Websites like ahrefs.com are plentiful, but you’ll have to find which tools work best for you. Many of these sites require membership. When you’re conducting your research, focus on keywords that will generate traffic from local uses. 
  • Make your website mobile friendly. Many people who conduct voice searches are conducting their searches on mobile devices. Optimizing your website to be mobile-friendly can help capture the people who are conducting voice searches on their phones. While it’s a good idea to have a mobile-friendly website anyway, it’s especially important if you’re targeting homeowners conducting voice searches. 
  • Create natural language content. Crafting your website to sound natural and conversational can help you capture people who are using conversational keywords to search the Internet. 
  • Create content for featured snippets. Featured snippets are the small clips of text that appear at the top of a search engine. These snippets may be read aloud to the user conducting the voice search. If your website content can be captured in these featured snippets, your business will stand out and may capture more traffic. To be featured in these snippets, use your website to answer commonly asked questions in easy-to-understand soundbites.
Sample Featured Snippet for Search Query: What is a main level master
  • Partner with a digital marketing firm. It helps to partner with the experts when you want to create an effective website. Find a digital marketing firm that you can trust to help you with this process. 

Optimizing your website for voice searches is just one of the ways to capture more Internet traffic and generate more leads in your area. As you conduct more research on digital marketing and find ways to incorporate SEO best practices, you should have more success keeping your website high on search engine results pages.

Author

  • Donna Campanelli

    Donna Campanelli is a marketing strategist and Managing Partner of Contractor-Marketing.com. She has also been a Realtor® since 2000. Her company is a member of CSHBA, CAHB and NAHB. They work with construction companies, contractors, and the trades across the United States to implement marketing strategies and tactics to double sales.

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