Originally published on June 27, 2019, updated July 1, 2020
People use different words when they speak than when they type. If you can understand that, you can understand how voice searches from Amazon Alexa are upending traditional SEO techniques. Considering the current popularity of these virtual assistants — and their projected success in the future — many Amazon sellers are finding they need to “relearn” their SEO strategies to accommodate this latest tech disruptor.
In this article, we’ll explain what exactly voice search is changing about Amazon SEO and how to get your products to the top of voice search results pages. Let’s start by shedding some light on the prevalence of virtual assistants.
Though it’s been out for a few years now, virtual assistant technology is still new. There’s little precedent to draw on for SEO best practices, but what we can say for sure is that voice searches will only get more popular in the future.
Rather than a trend, voice searches seem poised to become the new norm. Luckily, there’s still time to shift your SEO efforts to advance both voice and text searches. But first, you need to understand what exactly the difference is.
For typed queries, we — the normal users — tend to think succinctly in terms of keywords. If we’re looking for a black t-shirt, we might type something like “black t-shirt mens” or “black t-shirt large.” In an actual in-person conversation, talking in disjointed keywords comes across as nonsense, but the search engines know precisely what we’re talking about (usually).
Voice searches, though, mimic the language we use when talking to a friend. Instead of saying “black t-shirt mens” into a virtual assistant, a more common voice search would be “where can I find black t-shirts for a man.” These small distinctions — the extra words, changes between plural and singular, word order — can make all the difference if you’re fine-tuning your SEO.
This isn’t an issue exclusive to Amazon Alexa, either. Even if you only sell on Amazon, plenty of shoppers are still going to start their product searches on Apple Siri, Google Assistant or another virtual assistant. Your Amazon page can still pick up on these searches, so investing in voice search SEO goes beyond the popularity of Alexa.
As illustrated in the example above, voice searches are usually longer and in complete sentences, especially questions. If you’re familiar with SEO, you’ll know “long-tail keywords” refer to these wordy types of queries, so your first step in voice search SEO is to emphasize long-tail keywords.
While complete sentences may not fit in your product titles, the rest of your product page should include these long-form queries. You may find it helpful to use an SEO keyword software to discover exactly what phrases your customers are using, or better yet, you can test them yourself as outlined below.
Unlike the bare-boned short-tail queries of typed searches, voice searches show subtle inclinations into the person’s intent behind the query. You can use these to more closely customize your SEO strategy, even targeting people along the different stages of the sales/marketing funnel.
For example, consider the difference between “where can I find black t-shirts” and “where can I buy black t-shirts.” The first query suggests the user is still deciding, while the second suggests they’re ready to purchase.
Although each user is different, you can examine your shoppers’ language by segment. Once you can crack the code, you can more precisely manage your SEO strategy along different stages of the sales process.
It’s tempting, but you want to avoid guesswork as much as possible with SEO — voice searches or not. Rather, conduct usability tests and analyze pre-existing data to see if you can determine the kinds of word choice and phrasing your target customers use with voice searches. Even something minor like an email survey with the right questions can lead you in the right direction.
You can also pay closer attention to how you yourself talk compared to how you type. Next time you’re online shopping, try writing out on paper the kinds of questions you’re asking in your head. Of course, you may not represent your target shopper, but it’s still a helpful exercise in pinpointing which words come naturally when you’re not typing.
When typing search queries, we tend to change our language for the benefit of the search algorithms — in other words, we’re more likely to use proper names than slang. Voice searches are different; especially with long-time users, people can “forget” they’re searching the internet and speak casually in a way that’s natural to them.
You’ll want to adopt this “natural language” in your product copy as well. The actual words will depend on your target consumers, but as long as your writing fits their vernacular, it’ll have a positive effect. However, don’t neglect your original SEO keywords — typed searches aren’t dead by any means.
For Amazon specifically, SEO is crucial for Sponsored Ads, the advertisements that show up at the top of search result pages. It should be no surprise by now how much voice searches will affect whether or not these ads work.
Because Amazon sellers can choose which keyword searches their ads appear on, if you’ve diligently researched the kind of language your target customers use in voice searches, you can dominate these searches before your competitors catch on. Remember that voice search is still in its early stages, so you can capitalize on it now before it becomes standard.
At the moment, the most popular short-tail searches are over-saturated with competition, driving up the price of bids. Using long-tail keywords could be a way to “sneak” into the top search results without competing against the pricier short-tail bids.
While it’s challenging enough to alter your SEO strategies to incorporate voice searches, you also have to keep in mind all the nuances that separate Amazon SEO from other channels. Remember that shoppers on Amazon differ in goals and motivations from non-eCommerce searchers; so to be most effective, you need to cater your approach to this marketplace in particular. Luckily, you can learn the basics in these Amazon SEO guides:
Originally published on June 27, 2019, updated July 1, 2020
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.