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 prodding..it’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!

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich