Preparing Voice-activated Content

A subset of audio content, the need for voice content grows with every passing day.

I will not quote statistics or the results of consumer surveys here to buttress the point that the consumption of voice activated content, a subset of audio content, is on the rise. All of them concur that there’s real growth here, so let’s leave it at that.

Voice-activated content means audio content that's delivered via online search, or over devices like your smartphone or smart speaker. To dumb it down further, it means Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri or Google Assistant.

So why is voice-activated content getting to be popular? The answer is simple - it’s the easiest format for people to consume. Some even refer to it as “hands-free” technology. Think of it — you don’t need a screen, you don’t need no keyboard, you don’t need to look anywhere; all you have to do is bark a command or make a request, and it’s done.

Quietly, without much noise, an entire ecosystem of voice content has sprung up around us. From your PC to your smartphone/tablet, to your car, its everywhere.

For digital publishers, voice represents a new format of content, albeit uncharted territory.

Content for Voice — what’s it all about?

One word is sufficient to describe how voice content has to be — conversational. Much of it, almost 90%, is in question-answer form. Although such content is still in its infancy, it provides yet another opportunity for content developers, in addition to the traditional avenues. Voice content is still evolving so better get on the bus now.

Much of 2018-19 went in creating content for voice-devices that was largely informational: very basic Q&As or queries as consumers tested the waters. An early one - “How is the local weather?” still remains a hot favorite, I guess. That and others like, “Which is the most popular Chinese food joint in town?”

But as users get comfortable with all that “smartness”, Internet companies have to keep generating not only more content but more nuanced stuff that can increase the level of interactivity between man and machine.

2020 is set to see some interesting forward movement on this front.

One direction voice content will take is local.

It is predicted, rightfully, that a huge chunk of this content will be developed around local information. So online businesses have to get their act together if they want to be ahead in the voice content race. Not only them but even websites and apps need to be voice search ready, and so need to tweak their content accordingly.

Yes, that’s right. All of which means some cheer for the SEO teams. Because content for voice will need to be ready for “voice” discovery. And so, it must include phrases and long-tailed keywords. Remember, “conversational” content? Content that you key in a search task bar is very different from the one you will ask you digital assistant to dig up for you.

During my limited interaction with voice-activated content experts, I was told that one important distinction between text-based online search and “search” for information say over your smart speaker is — the latter will only throw up ONE result/answer. That’s true. If you ask your speaker for information on a local biscuit manufacturer, you will be given just one address. Unlike online search, there is no SERP.

But I will not go there for now in the interest of brevity. Suffice to say, old content will need re-purposing even as fresh content is generated for voice.

Here are some tips on how to optimize your content for voice search

Like I said earlier, your content must have a conversational tone, so write or develop it on that line. Focus on providing a solution/answer with your content, which means keep in mind semantic or intent-based search. Remember, your service or product or brand will get only one chance in voice search.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay