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Writing for Voice Search: Optimizing Content for AI Assistants

September 2023



Article by Herman Barnes

Article by Herman Barnes

Northeastern's Human Services program graduate, Herman Barnes contributes to our blog pro bono. He sees his mission in helping students prepare for academic careers by providing them with experience and skill-based background required for successful studying and research.

In recent years, AI-powered voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant have exploded in popularity. With voice search on the rise, brands must optimize their content for voice-first experiences. Voice assistants rely on speech recognition and natural language processing to interpret queries. This requires a different writing style compared to writing for web pages and apps. Though essay writers online focus on long-form articles, the rise of voice search means adapting a more conversational tone to connect with users through voice interfaces.

Focusing on Concise Wording

One of the biggest differences with voice search content is brevity. Written content can be scanned, allowing for more verbose text. But with voice, every additional word slows down the experience. This makes concise, direct phrasing essential.

Sentences should average around 15-20 words for voice search. Questions or commands work better than sentence statements. Removing unnecessary words improves interpretation by the voice assistant. Any terms or phrases that do not contribute directly to the meaning or intent should get cut.

You can test voice search wording by reading sentences out loud. If they sound lengthy or unnatural to speak, simplify further. Follow newspaper headline principles by sticking to subject-verb-object sentence structure.

Using Natural Language

The stilted, overly formal language sounds bizarre when spoken aloud. That’s why writing for voice search relies on natural language, similar to everyday human speech. Conversational words and phrasing help voice assistants grasp meaning and context.

Instead of saying, “Purchase a pizza,” use friendlier language like “Order me a pizza.” Voice search writing should be casual yet still professional. Popular slang can backfire, as voice assistants may not recognize these constantly evolving terms. Avoid industry jargon and niche acronyms unlikely to be widely understood


Adding Contextual Cues

The wording must supply those clues since voice search lacks visual and environmental context. Explicitly state needed details within voice content so the voice assistant can fully handle the request.

For example, with location-based queries, always specify the city or neighborhood rather than assuming the voice assistant will default to the user’s current area. Provide expanded forms of names rather than initials or abbreviations.

Use consistent contextual keywords relevant to your business to improve voice search discovery. For a pizzeria, always include terms like “order pizza” rather than just “order” or “get food.”

Formatting for Scannability

While voice content must be concise, complement it with long-form, scannable text for screen appearances. After interpreting a voice request, assistants display the most relevant web page results.

Optimizing these landing pages for quick visual scanning ensures users find the answer quickly. Use succinct headings, bullet points, bolded text, and other formatting to improve scannability.

Include questions and commands users may have spoken at the top of pages to indicate relevancy. Highlight key user actions like “order” or “book” to facilitate voice searchers in accomplishing their goals.

Consider How Response Will Sound

Keep in mind that voice assistants vocally read out content word-for-word to users. This means crafted responses must sound natural when spoken aloud. Use simple words and avoid long, complex sentences.

Test draft content by reading it out loud or feeding it through text-to-speech programs. Listen for awkward phrasing, confusing sentences, or difficult pronunciation terms. Spell out words rather than numeric digits to better comprehend numbers and addresses.

Writing for voice search remains an evolving art. As voice assistant adoption grows, brands must adapt content to be voice-friendly. Companies can connect with voice searchers and improve discoverability with the right mix of concise yet conversational wording and scannable page formatting.

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