While Voice Search has not yet entirely taken over the search algorithms yet, this year with the release of the much-anticipated Apple Home Pod device to go along with the already popular Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, more voice first devices will be in people’s homes than ever before. Even on laptops and other mobile devices, Siri and Cortana (Microsoft) are becoming even more popular.
In addition, this voice first software is being integrated into vehicles, smart TVs and more. For the long-term queries people tend to use for these devices, being first is known as Ranking zero. Just like you can optimize for text search and rank number one in search engines, you can also optimize for ranking zero, and winning the voice search game ahead of your competition. How do you do that? Here are five tips for ranking zero in 2018.
Find Out What People are Asking
What are people in your particular niche searching? There are a number of tools for determining this when it comes to text search. Things like Semrush and even some tools from Moz can help you determine what queries are the most popular in your niche.
The question is, are they using the same questions verbally? The answer is probably no. They are using similar searches, but ones that are more natural to speak rather than type. These queries tend to be long tail, full sentence questions.
So take the keywords you want to rank for and turn them into questions instead. That is what people are searching for most often in your niche using voice first searches.
Answer Those Questions
Once you know what people are asking in your niche, you need to answer those questions. There is nothing wrong with having a longer blog post that answers them, but for Google and other voice searches to find your answers first, you need to directly answer the question in a succinct way within the first paragraph or two of your content.
This is because of the way voice works. It will typically read the first section of your answer aloud to the user, and if they are on a device that also has a screen, offer them the option to read further. If the first part of your answer does not make sense in context, search engines will probably choose something else, or if readers fail to understand it, they will search again using other keywords and won’t visit your site at all.
The key is that this is a way to get a great deal of brand recognition. You may not get a lot of traffic if a user does not click through, but your brand will become recognized as an expert in your field.
Be Discoverable in Other Ways
While from time to time, a lower ranking site will outrank one with higher authority in voice search simply because they have a better answer to questions, most of the time Google will gather the answers from the most authoritative and reputable source it can.
This means that you must already have authority and be known as an expert site to Google and other search engines. Your ranking must be at a reasonable level. This means you should have already engaged in some forms of digital marketing:
- Great Content: Your blog and website should have great information you have created and share freely.
- Intentional Link Building: You should have authoritative and natural links in your backlink profile from reputable sites.
- Social Signals: While Google tells us social signals do not directly affect ranking, this is often where organic links come from. A strong social presence, and even answering these questions through your social media platform gives you authority and a larger digital footprint.
Your site must be as discoverable as possible, have as high of authority as possible, and be on the search engine’s radar already to be in a position to rank zero.
Act Like a Business
Businesses pay for marketing. Not all links in their backlink profiles are DOFOLLOW. Many are NOFOLLOW or from paid reach as opposed to organic reach and direct traffic. Search engines expect to see this. As much as many people push for DOFOLLOW link building, the best way to rank better is to have a good mixture of all the types of links they expect to see.
This may mean hiring the best marketing agency to manage your digital ad campaigns and other digital advertising efforts. Top search engine rankings do not happen accidentally, and neither do zero rankings for search. Intentional efforts are required, and often you will need help with those efforts.
Remember, Google expects a business to act like a business. Not all links will be natural, some will be paid. Not all traffic will be organic. Use PPC campaigns, and other paid efforts to enhance your organic marketing plan.
Just like the number one spot in search engines, the ranking for zero in voice search will be competitive. Just because you got there once does not mean you will stay there. Just because you aren’t there yet does not mean you can’t unseat your competition.
It will take time, effort, and expense to reach and keep the zero ranking for voice search just like any other ranking for text search.
Know what people are asking, answer their questions, be discoverable, act like a real business, and be persistent and you may just win the race for what is sure to be one of the most coveted search rankings in 2018.
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