It's no wonder, really. After months of lockdown and social distancing, we had to talk to someone. In 2020 and throughout 2021, Alexa and Siri became a little less robot and a little more gal pal. Siri supported our online shopping habit without judgment, and Alexa gave us step-by-step instructions on how to make the perfect quarantine sourdough.

In 2022, expect voice search to level up yet again. Smart speakers are predicted to pop up in 55 percent of U.S. homes, and already, 65 percent of 25-to-49-year-olds talk to a voice-enabled device daily.

Voice search will change the way your brand does SEO. And if you want to grow organic traffic in 2022, you'll need to get on board. So we've put together some of the top tips to help you craft an SEO strategy that really speaks to your target audience...literally.

Improve Domain Authority

Want your results to be on the tip of the tongue for voice-enabled devices? Focus on increasing your site's domain and link authority by implementing a link-building strategy and boosting your backlink profile. High domain sites are the most likely to rank well in voice search.

Developing an effective link-building strategy means looking at your brand's strengths. What do you have to offer that people would find interesting enough to share on their websites, social-media accounts, or in news articles or editorials?

Data stories are always compelling...if you can tell a unique story with your customer data. For example, check out how OKCupid collects data and shares relevant insights in its monthly blog.

In addition to data stories, using expert insights from your customers or influencers can help create unique, insightful content that resonates with people and often prompts them to share. Use a service like Cision's HARO (Help a Reporter Out) to source industry thought leaders or respond to queries as a thought leader in your industry.

You also can build a lot of links just by being aware that links are important -- lots of companies are already doing things in the community or with partners, or they're doing things that are newsworthy. Ask for a link when it makes sense.

Keep It Simple

Most voice search results come in at a 9th grade reading level. Keep your content casual and conversational, and don't forget to include those long-tail keywords that answer questions like "who," "what," "when," "where," "why," and "how." Do a quick Google search for your primary keywords, and pay close attention to the "People also ask" section below the sponsored and top results. This is an SEO gold mine. Incorporate those questions into your content to increase your chances of ranking on voice search.

Snag Those Featured Snippets

More than 40 percent of all voice search results come from Google's featured snippets. Featured snippets are typically in the top position on search engine results pages (SERPs), otherwise known as "position zero." While landing a zero-position result is still shrouded in mystery, you can improve your chances by optimizing your content around long-tail keywords that answer specific questions.

The "People also ask" questions mentioned above will help you narrow down keywords that are relevant to your brand and write crisp, concise answers to them.

Other ways to increase your chances of getting your content in a featured snippet is to carefully consider formatting choices. Use bulleted or numbered lists, tables, and heading tags. Above all, structure your content to make it easy for Google to understand and pull answers to the questions people are searching.

Don't Ignore Local

No matter how big your brand, it pays to have a local presence. Voice searches on mobile devices are three times more likely to be locally based than text searches. Be sure to include your location within your long-tail keywords when appropriate, whether it's your brand headquarters, regional offices, or the communities where your employees or leadership are located and in which they're involved. If your brand is local, you'll need to own that market if you want to rank well in voice search. Make sure directions to brick-and-mortar locations are correct and simple to understand, and optimize for "near me" searches.

Make sure your Google My Business and local directory listings (like Yelp, Yellow Pages, and specific industry directories) are complete and up-to-date, including all locations and map listings. Engage in local partnerships and community initiatives where it makes sense for your brand. Doing this can help with link building as well as with your authority and credibility within specific regions.

Create Content With Context

SEO without killer content to back it up won't get you too far. Make sure your content gives your SEO strategy a lift by building your content around your ideal personas, and answer key questions like:

  • Who are they?
  • What keeps them up at night?
  • Why do they need what my brand provides?

Then, reflect those answers in your content. Keep it concise, conversational, and relevant. Consider adding FAQs with more specific questions, and reinforce this with schema markup, whether it's FAQ schema, reviews schema, or video schema. This helps give more structure to your content and ensures Google can easily understand it.

Make sure the content you're creating fills a need or solves a pain point. Create valuable tools and downloads that provide something useful and fulfill search intent. Be sure you're also using multimedia, like infographics and video, to make your content engaging and shareable.

Also, if there are specific issues, problems, or trends that are impacting your customers, cover them in your content. For example, if most of your customers are in California and feeling the effect of wildfires there, be sure to mention it. Bottom line: If they're talking about it, you should be, too.

Find a Professional SEO Consultant

The way we search is changing. We want clear, concise answers, and we want them yesterday. Flowery, long-form content might be great for your existing desktop audience, but if you want to capture new visitors through voice search, you need to optimize and adapt your SEO strategy. A professional SEO consultant can help you implement all the tips above and a lot more, like technical and on-page SEO.

You want to grow in 2022, right? Who doesn't? But if you haven't jumped on the voice search bandwagon yet, you're putting your brand at a disadvantage. If you want to be the brand everyone (or at least, Alexa and Siri) is talking about, make sure voice search optimization is part of your 2022 SEO strategy.