Eight Tips for Tackling Global Voice Search
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Eight Tips for Tackling Global Voice Search

Voice searches, both on websites and through virtual assistants, look to be approaching world domination. They’re incredibly convenient. They’re faster. They may even be safer—it beats typing as you drive.

How massive is the switch to voice search?

While it may not be seeing the explosive adoption marketers originally anticipated, voice search is too relevant to be ignored. A recent global study from Search Engine Land paints a good picture:

  • 70% of respondents reported making at least a few voice searches per week. Interestingly, that number goes up to a few times a day for the 13-to-18-year-old and 65-plus crowds.
  • 78% of respondents believe they’ll perform at least half of their searches through voice search devices within the next 5-10 years. Among these, 26% think desktop and mobile search will become irrelevant.

Voice search isn’t the future of online marketing; it’s the present. Any global business without an international SEO strategy for voice search will miss critical opportunities to connect with their users.

New to international voice search? We offer eight steps to get you started.

1. Find out how your global customers search.

What are the search behaviors of each of your target demographics—Chinese teenagers, American housewives in their 30s, German grandpas? What search engines do they use?

Different engines have different algorithms—some use Google’s, some Yahoo’s or Bing’s, and then there’s Baidu in China and Yandex in Russia. Once you identify which algorithms you need to pay attention to, find out what devices your markets use for search—the rules and results per locale might be slightly different.

Rely on in-country international voice search experts to help dig all this up and create your global SEO strategy with those targets in mind.

2. Develop your voice search phrases for each market.

Your current keywords won’t do. A person speaks quite differently than they type—in full, conversational sentences rather than shorter word clusters. Most often, spoken search terms are questions. For example, someone might type “square table,” whereas someone might speak, “Where can I buy a large square oak table for under $1,000 near me?”

Get your in-country resources to brainstorm the many possible questions or statements that a customer could use to search for your product. Use largely the same process as you would for old-school keywords, e.g. create ‘buckets’ or major categories in which you want search queries to fall.

Also, you can look for natural language queries in your search traffic reports to get a feel for what users might be asking to find on your site.

3. Seed your on-page content with the longer queries.

Once you’ve identified the top voice-based search queries, seed your content with them.

For example, Backlinko found that Q&A or FAQ-style content helps sites rank higher for longer, full-sentence voice searches.

Along with this, start developing your original content with a more conversational tone.

4. Tag and title using your new phrases.

This includes URLs, image alt fields, page titles (H1) and other headlines and descriptions.

5. Use local references.

If you have brick-and-mortar stores, remember that voice searches are more likely to be local than shorter text searches. Use the names of your city and street in your keywords. Make sure your local listings are up to date so you show up in results for the long-tail search terms.

6. Test the effectiveness of your target-market voice search terms.

Have in-country users perform searches using your terms and report back on their experience. Are the search terms relevant? Do users get the results they want?

7. Take advantage of all the new data.

Long-tail search terms give increased amounts of contextual information, including useful data on searcher intent, habits, interests and preferences—all of which can open up new avenues and strategies for marketing.

For example, going back to our search for tables, a business could learn what type of table the consumer is looking for, as well as its size and desired material. The price given indicates a budget and an intent to buy.

8. Don’t abandon short-tail keywords.

Keep finding, testing and optimizing for those, too. Some people (like my mom) are always going to type their searches. Yes, it’s more complicated, because you are now managing more search terms and you have to optimize for both kinds of search queries. But it will be worth it.

Marketers, ignore global voice search at your peril: you’re leaving money on the table. Brands who respond to the rise in voice search will see their traffic skyrocket—and sales along with it.

Have you already started to prepare your website for global voice searches? It’s time.


Thanks to Hinde Lamrani, SEO expert at RWS Moravia, for providing the international SEO tips in this post.