How to optimize your product listings for voice search

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Voice search is one of the fastest growing categories of search – whether people are using their mobiles, or whether they’re using smart speakers. 20% of all mobile searches, now, are voice search, and that figure is going up all the time.

But voice search has a few differences from the regular internet search. For instance, people are more likely to ask a question (“Alexa, where can I get root beer flavor ice cream?”) than to just type in a keyword or set of keywords (“root beer ice cream”).

That means you may want to use longer tail keywords. For instance, voice queries are more likely to be about “how to optimize my website” than “SEO”. A lot of the questions that people will be asking begin with the following words;

•      what…?

•      When…?

•      How…?

•      Where…?

•      Can I …?

•      who…?

So if you think of those questions when you’re working out the right keywords for mobile search, you will be more likely to find the right, longer tail, keywords.

When it comes to your listing title – well, read it aloud yourself. How does it sound? For instance, if it’s full of numbers – “three inch width by five point three yards product number 6203” – it’s not going to make customers feel great about the product. Instead, “three inch wide ribbon” works better, or “three inch wide ribbon with pussy cat design”.

It may just be that you’ve got a title which is easy to mishear, or which has a lot of s’s in. Small size sequined silk dress – it’s difficult to get your mouth round that. Maybe you could restate the title so it’s easy to say: Silk glitter frock in small?

Amazon actually reworks the titles for voice search for best sellers, but there are two problems with this. First, your product might not yet be a best seller. Secondly, you don’t know exactly how Amazon will do it. For instance, though it quite often stops where there’s a comma in a product title, so “Cowboy style boots in real leather, size ten with added sequins” might come out as just “Cowboy style boots in real leather”, you can’t be a hundred percent sure.

A good way to make sure you’ll do better in voice search is to go for shorter titles, say 80 characters. Alexa can read very fast when product titles are too long, so the information all arrives in a hurry – that doesn’t really give the user the chance to take it all in (and remember, they may be searching while doing something else). If the comma comes around the end of 80 characters, you have more chance Amazon will stop the title just there – so you can use the rest of the characters to address the needs of text searchers.

You may also want to avoid special characters or particularly difficult words. For instance, if you put +/- in a title to mean “plus or minus”, “roughly”, or “with or without”, Alexa is quite likely to say “plus slash dash”, which doesn’t make any sense at all. + size, on the other hand, is more likely to come out right, but you can probably afford the three extra characters to make it Plus Size and make sure Alexa doesn’t end up promoting your And Size kaftan.

And make sure that you put the brand name up front. Nobody ever goes into a store and asks for peanut butter cups Reese’s. In voice search, the brand name will almost always be the first thing a customer says, and the first thing they want to hear back.

Some of this may sound as if it goes against all the things you’ve been taught for product titling – and that’s true. It’s very difficult making the same title work really well for both text and voice search. But it can be done, with a little thought.

The big question is: are you going to put the time in?

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