Gini Dietrich

How to Create Content that Shows Up in Voice Search

By: Gini Dietrich | August 23, 2017 | 

Voice SearchI have hands down, the coolest job on the face of this earth.

(That might be a slight exaggeration—working at a winery in Napa would also be super cool.)

But I do have a cool job.

Because of the PR Dream Team, the Modern Blogging Masterclass, our free Slack community, and this blog, I get to work directly with hundreds of communicators around the globe.

And I get to learn many things that add to my skillset and make my job the coolest.

Case in point, yesterday we had our bi-weekly masterclass meeting, and we were talking about voice search.

If you have Google Home, Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, or Cortana, you already know what it’s like to get things you need by speaking out loud.

Even my four-year-old has figured out that she can add things to my shopping list.

Alexa, add M&Ms to my mom’s shopping list.

Alexa, add colored Cheerios to my mom’s shopping list.

(Fruit Loops, which I’ve told her aren’t made in Chicago. They’re only available in cities where grandparents live.)

Alexa, add Frozen band-aids to my mom’s shopping list.

For our kids, voice search will be the norm, not the exception.

So how the heck do we create content, so we’re what comes up in voice search?

Two Ways to Optimize Content for Voice Search

Voice search is a topic that has been top-of-mind for me, but it’s more clear right now than ever before.

During yesterday’s meeting, Ed Mayuga, who is a partner and co-founder at the best PR firm in St. Louis took a few minutes to show off his voice search prowess.

(At my serious’s not like he was in our faces yelling, “LOOK HOW COOL WE ARE!”)

He suggested two things:

  1. Update your Google Places listing with your keywords—in this case, “best PR firm in St. Louis”—and add new photos with alt text that contains your keywords.
  2. Add a Yelp listing for your business.

He also suggested adding tags of ancillary titles, such as marketing consultant, to help your organization pop up in voice search.

To better explain the process—and to see it in action—he created this short video:

It’s Not Just for Local Organizations

Why bother with Google Places and Yelp, especially if you’re not retail, restaurant, or destination business?

First, Google Places pops up first in Google search results, on the desktop.

So it makes sense those listings would be what voice search finds on Google Home.

Alexa and Siri both return Yelp results first, hence hurrying your little butt over there immediately.

(Make sure to use your priority keywords in the listings.)

While this is super important for organizations that have a local presence, those that are national or international should also consider it.

A virtual organization like mine might add local listings everywhere we have team members.

The point is, if you want to be a recommendation from voice search, Google Places and Yelp are great places to start.

More Conversations, Less Keywords

Now that you’ve done that work, it’s time to think about your content.

The content you want to be included in one of the three voice search listings.

On Inside PR a couple of weeks ago, Martin Waxman showed how this works.

(I guess he didn’t show because it’s a podcast—he demonstrated via voice search while we recorded.)

He started off with:

OK, Google. Who is the president of the United States?

Who is his wife?

How many children do they have?

And it went on for several questions.

But you can see that he never says, “How many children do Donald and Melania Trump have?”

Rather, he interacted with the voice search as if he were having a conversation with a human being.

If you were to search the same thing on your desktop, you’d do this:

President of U.S.

Trump’s wife

Trump children

You can see the difference.

To show up in voice search results, you have to create long-tail keywords based on how a human being would have a conversation.

Let’s start with something easy (after you do the work above): The frequently asked questions page on your website.

Update Your FAQs

Go to your frequently asked questions, either on your website or (hopefully) in a folder on your server.

Print out a copy.

I know this isn’t very green, but it’ll be easier to do it this way.

Go through and circle common questions with different colors.

For instance, circle in green all of your pricing, delivery, and support questions.

In red, circle all of your customer service questions.

In blue, circle all of your process questions.

And so on.

For every circle, you’re going to create a new page on your website.

It makes sense to have an umbrella FAQs page and then a drop-down for support, customer service, process, and more.

Now that you know which questions will go on which page, you want to write natural-sounding questions and phrases.

How much does it cost to work with a PR firm?

What kinds of deliverables can I expect from a PR firm?

What kinds of results can I expect from a PR firm?

Is anyone ever happy with their PR firm?

Once you have the questions written, you can revise your frequently asked questions to match.

And, as it turns out, if you create these individuals pages of content centered on specific questions people ask, you’ll show up in voice search results.


Your chances of appearing in a Google “featured snippet,” which is my version of winning the lottery, dramatically increase.

Your Voice Search Homework

So, your homework is to do three things:

  1. Update your Google Places listing;
  2. Update or add a Yelp listing; and
  3. Create individual pages with specific questions answered from your FAQs.

And then report back!

I’d love to hear if Google, Siri, Alexa, or the others say your organization’s name when you complete a voice search.

This kind of homework is super fun! Kick some butt!

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • heidicohen

    Gini–Thank you for making voice search concrete! It’s a helpful push in the tush that many of us need to get our content voice findable. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

    • I’ve been thinking about it lots, but it wasn’t until Ed showed us what he’s done that it made it crystal clear in my brain. And it’s not that difficult!

  • Carrie Hane

    This is great! It fits in nicely with my work on modeling and structured content and how that powers voice interactions (not just search). (I’m talking about it at Content Marketing World in 2 weeks, so stop in and say hi if you’re there.)

    The only thing I’d disagree with about this article is: just get rid of your FAQ page. Why don’t you already answer those questions somewhere else if they are so frequently asked? I think voice is what mobile was 5 years ago for content: it makes you focus and think about. With voice you content is all you’ve got.

    • Oh, that’s not what I meant! I’ll go back and revise. I meant to break up the one FAQ page you have into several of them…by bucket.

      Also, I’m being lazy. What day/time do you speak?

      • Carrie Hane

        Phew! I’m glad we agree on FAQs! 😀

        I’m speaking at 10:15 on Wednesday and 9:00 on Friday (in the Content Strategy track).

        • I’ll come see you on Wednesday!

        • Oh shoot. I have a board meeting at that time that I have to call in for. I’ll try to sneak in toward the end.

  • This really makes me want to get Google Home or Alexa. Alas, up here in Canada they aren’t as effective (Alexa doesn’t work up here yet) as they can be, but soon! That said… once I do get these services, I really hope I won’t be asking about “Best PR Firm in Toronto”, otherwise I’ll have to reevaluate my social life.

    • Also, accounting for all search channels and behavior is super important. Whether on Google’s SERP, location-based search, voice or even niche channels (i.e. reddit or wherever your target market happens to be), you want to make sure your content and your relevancy has you showing up no matter where your target audience is looking for you.

      • Carrie Hane

        You’re right. Voice is just one more reason we’ve got to do digital content better.

    • You poor Canadians. You see what we have, and it’s within reach, but you just can’t have it yet.

      • Seriously. But I’ll take it… #becausehewhoshallnotbenamed

        • That’s a really good point. He’s not worth having access to Alexa.

  • Liz Reusswig

    Alexa, ship a box of Fruit Loops to the best PR firm in Chicago…oh, and Alexa, include a box of Lucky Charms! Thank you! Oh wait…Alexa, you better include some Butterfingers! 😉

  • This stuff makes me giddy and is part of what I love so much about our field. It’s that perfect combo of art and science

    • And it’s the art and the science that makes our industry nutty. I love it, too!

  • Dennis Shiao

    Great advice, Gini. Regarding the FAQs on the website, and all website content in general, let’s store them as structured content elements in the CMS, so they’re accessible to not only search engines, but home assistants [today] and the other devices that surface in the future 🔮

  • Your little princess is super smart. I can only imagine your reaction when you received things you did not order…

    Your article is the perfect example the future is here. Change is happening and if, we as PR pros, don’t get on board to catch up and even get ahead of trends, soon it will be too late.