Is audio SEO the next big thing?
Last year, Zack Reneau-Wedeen – founder and head of product for Google Podcasts – detailed the search engine giant’s plans to do for audio content what it’s done so well for text.
“Right now Google is really good at giving you text and video related to your search query. With all the amazing work podcasters are publishing each day, there’s no good reason why audio isn’t a first-class citizen in the same way.”
In May of 2019, Zack took to Twitter to announce that:
“Rolling out this week you’ll be able to search for and play podcasts directly in Google Search across Android, iOS, and desktop browsers…”
At Google’s I/O 2019, Google CEO Sundar Pichai also mentioned that users will soon begin seeing podcast suggestions based on their search history in an upcoming “podcasts about this story” feature.
And Google has been upgrading and tweaking their speech-to-text and automatic transcription capabilities since 2017 as voice searches and digital assistants become more prevalent, and devices like Google Home become more popular. All of this points to a big opportunity for brands, businesses and websites to boost their rankings and make headway in niches previously dominated by text-heavy websites. So how can you capitalize on these changes?
Starting a podcast:
If you feel your kind of content will translate well in a podcast format – say you have lots of network connections and industry leaders you regularly feature interviews with, you have the kind of audience who enjoy taking part in webinars or Q&A’s, or you simply have a lot to say – then it may be well worth your while to start a podcast.
To get the best results from search engines for your podcast, try to tick the following boxes:
Ensure the theme and topic of each episode is well defined, and that appropriate keywords appear in the title and audio file name
Brainstorm a list of keywords and useful resources you’d like to mention during the podcast, and make sure you include text links in the show notes
Make sure audio is clear and with as little background noise as possible – there are plenty of free audio editors that can help you do this
Try to use a question-followed-by-answer format – this may help you rank for a featured snippet
Include a summary or takeaways section at the end of each episode
Try to mention keywords, brand names or resources naturally just as if you were writing a blog post or article
If you don’t have the resources or enough content to create your own podcast series, reach out to existing successful podcasters in your industry and arrange to appear as a guest using the above guidelines.
For those with existing podcasts:
Make sure you’re part of the Google Podcasts ecosystem, and that you’re making the best use possible of metadata, including updating older episodes. If you mention another brand, industry leader or resource in an episode, reach out to them afterwards and make sure they know about it – they’ll almost certainly share a link to your podcast with their own followers, which will help you grow your audience.
Optimizing your text content for voice search:
If podcasts simply aren’t your thing, you can still score audio SEO points by optimizing your content for voice search. The main difference between traditional web searches and voice searches is that people (mostly!) find speaking easier than typing – which means they’re more likely to use long tail keywords in a voice query than a text one. Getting in touch with an experienced SEO services provider with experience identifying and optimizing content for both long and short tail keywords can make this process a lot easier.
A large percentage of voice searches are local searches – such as someone on the road looking for a particular service or product in their area. Including phrases in your text content that identify exactly where you offer your service geographically, and ideally include phrases a person would use when doing a voice search – such as ‘near me’. It goes without saying that you should have an up to date Google My Business listing.
Site speed, mobile-friendliness and responsiveness is another big consideration, as preference will be given to content that loads quickly on someone’s smartphone and provides near-instant results. Most of all though, optimizing for voice search is about getting inside the minds of your audience and anticipating the kind of information they want, and how they would phrase their query. If you can put yourself in your customers’ shoes and give them the kind of content they want, the battle is half won!