Learn How to Score Featured Snippets to Win in Voice Search

voice search
When you ask a question of your digital assistant, like Google Home, the answer you get often comes from a featured snippet. These snippets provide simple, authoritative answers to your questions, which means that featured snippets impact voice search in a huge way; therefore, listings on search with poorly written snippets—or without snippets altogether—are giving your digital assistant some difficulties. And from that, you can draw the conclusion that with killer snippets come killer results through voice search, right? Well, yes, but there’s more to it.
If you approach this from another perspective, you’ll find yourself snatching up more snippets, all while simultaneously optimizing for voice search. Read on to see what we mean.

Robotic Typing vs. Human Talking

In “the good ole days,” search engines quickly trained people to enter their queries based on keywords. Instead of asking questions that mirror normal human speech, we learned to omit unnecessary words like “of,” “and,” and “the,” which created search queries that were oddly robotic but got the job done. 2013 brought Google’s Hummingbird update, which paved the way to more adaptive search engines that could better understand language and intent.
So now rather than looking for keywords, the search engine reads the query as a whole. On an interesting note, voice search only works when it can interpret human speech and language.

Machine Learning by Digital Assistants

When it comes to digital assistants and their voice search capabilities, it’s not hard to see just how far machine learning has come. In many cases, it can keep up with speech and grammar as well as discern our intent. And as digital marketing experts, we examine examples of this to figure out just what type of queries we should track when voice search is on our SEO radar.
Because voice searchers are able to hold a sort of dialogue with their digital assistants, we see unsuccessful and successful queries from any particular “conversation.” For example, you might ask your assistant “what are the best phone cases,” followed by “for iPhone 8,” followed by “for under $25.” Likely the assistant will track with you and bring you appropriate results for each query, giving you the search result of “best iPhone 8 phone cases for under $25.” But these digital companions aren’t always going to get it right.
But either way, it’s still pretty impressive that it can understand the amount of context and searcher intent as it can. Successful versus unsuccessful queries can come down to a single word, but with daily advances in technology across the board, it’s likely that even these little kinks will be worked out in no time.

Snippets for Varying Queries

With the growing popularity of digital assistants comes more and more voice searches, and that means that snippets are going to have to show up for our spoken queries. And, of course, Google is strides ahead.
For the past two years or so, there’s been a definite increase in the number of words in the queries that result in a featured snippet. Long-tail searches can be annoying, but with a higher number of spoken searches, this isn’t going to change any time soon. That’s because those words like “how,” “to,” “what,” and “does” (to name a few) come out in our speech way more than they are typed in a written search, like we mentioned earlier.
So, in order for businesses to score more snippets with Google and aid those searchers who prefer the digital assistant, those long-tail, more natural-sounding keywords are the ones we need to be tracking and optimizing for.

Make Your Snippet Content Match

When you are ready to optimize, it’s important to implement the right snippet formatting. You’ll find that “how to” and “best” are easily scoring more snippets than other terms. And from that, it’s natural to conclude that you should optimize all of your content for appearing in those two common snippet types; however, paragraphs and tables still take up a good slice of the pie as well. It may seem tempting, but don’t put all your eggs in one basket! Find the content on your site that best lends itself to a featured snippet, and optimize just those bits.

Track, Track, Track!

No matter how good your content is, if you aren’t optimizing for the right kind of snippets, then you’ll find that not many people are actually going to see it. The first step to bringing in those snippets is creating a keyword list that’s friendly to voice search. To do this, take your existing keyword research and then think about natural human speech. How does it compare to the keywords you have already optimized for?

Want Expert Help with Your Voice Search Optimization?

Here at Uptick, we have experts in all things optimization, including voice search and snippets. Need help with everything we’ve covered here? Contact the Uptick team today!

About Alan

Alan Harned is Uptick’s Marketing Consultant Manager. He graduated from Birmingham’s Samford University, creating video content for Samford’s athletic department right after graduation. He also completed a multi-year stint at Student Life for Lifeway Christian Resources. His work at Uptick includes leading a team of Marketing Consultants, analyzing campaign results, recommending digital marketing services and swaps, and refining marketing strategies to suit clients’ short and long-term goals best. His previous experience in video gives him a great reference point for creative work, which offers clients additional perspective when strategizing.

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