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23 February 2017 / Opinion

How to optimise your content for Google Home

Egle Gudiskyte / Head of SEO

In October last year, Google Home was launched, the digital voice assistant device and competitor to Amazon Echo. Digital voice assistant devices can capture, process and perform tasks based on voice requests and queries.

With the release of Google Home, it’s likely that the market for digital voice assistant technology will rapidly grow. According to Strategy Analytics, sales of digital voice assistant devices will increase by 738% from 2016 to 2020.

As digital marketers, we need to consider what impact Google Home will have on search marketing and especially on SERPs. We need to understand where Google Home’s answers come from and what to consider when optimising for them.

There are four things to consider for optimising sites for Google Home:

  1. Understanding the type of queries it affects
  2. Ranking for featured snippets
  3. Understanding the customers’ needs
  4. Understanding your analytics

1. Understanding the type of queries it affects

It’s important to understand that many search queries that Google Home answers are not relevant to businesses and so marketing strategies can’t affect them.

The most frequently used queries are the ones that are device specific and have limited SEO potential, such as:

  • Controlling lighting in the home

  • Setting up an alarm

  • Playing music

  • Updates on an upcoming flight

  • Traffic and commute information

  • Definitions or correct spellings for words

  • Translations for words

  • Getting weather forecasts

These queries are called good abandonments; you can find out more about them in Google’s publication “Good Abandonment in Mobile and PC Internet Search”.

However, there are two types of queries where SEO can have an impact, and these are:

  • Fact and information: For example, “How many Oscars has Denzel Washington won?”

  • Local business information: This could be business information such as phone number, address or opening hours, and finding nearby locations.

2. Ranking for featured snippets

Dr. Peter J. Meyers from Moz recently published an article on Moz’s research on Google Home’s results which explains that featured snippets are the main answers for fact and information type of queries.

A featured snippet is a summary of information on what feeds into Google’s SERPs above standard organic results and below paid listings. Moz’s research explains that Google Home’s answers include not only featured snippets but also attributions, such as “According to Wikipedia” which are followed by either full or shorter versions of snippets.

Although featured snippets are designed for users who are seeking information rather than online shopping, these questions can still be relevant for businesses and especially brands. “According to…” is a very important aspect of Google Home’s answers, as it can mention your business name which can boost your brand awareness.

Remember that if you can win a position for featured snippets, you can rank for voice searches and on Google Home; take a look at this guide on how to gain featured snippets.

3. Understanding the customers’ needs

Voice searches are usually longer and more complicated than typed searches, so optimising for long-tail keywords will become more important.

Typed search terms are usually short, one or two-word keywords, however spoken queries are usually full sentences or questions. For example, users might type “tallest building UK”, however, users would use more natural language for voice searches, so they would ask “Google, what is the tallest building in the UK?”.

It’s important to understand that the searcher’s intention is the same, but the keywords aren’t identical.

Therefore, in order to rank on voice assistant devices like Google Home, you’ll need to research your audience to find out the search queries used by your audience and understand how to answer these questions.

By identifying search queries relevant to your customers, you can write content specifically for their intention.

4. Understand your analytics

Finally, we need to keep in mind our KPIs and that less organic traffic might not mean that you aren’t being found. As Google Home works without a screen or an interface, users can’t click on your website.

Consequently, as the market shifts, you might find that your organic traffic grows at a slower rate, but don’t panic if that happens. You should have a look at other measurements such as direct traffic or branded searches, which might be higher as a result of increased brand awareness.

We’re entering a new era of search, and for brands - it’s key to be able to understand how consumer search behaviour is changing and how that impacts marketing strategies. Although we anticipate SERPs will remain the default for years to come, the use of digital voice assistants is set to rise, so it’s essential to begin adapting your approach now.