Really. Even for technical information, voice search is on the rise, and developers, DevOps teams, and other IT professionals are using it. Don’t believe us? Believe Evans Data. Results from their 2019 Developer Marketing Survey reveal that developers commonly use voice-activated search or voice-recognition-based search to look for technical information.
How common is it? >60% said that this activity occurs at least a few times per week.
Start simple. There are some voice-activated search principles that translate into creating content across markets, including developers. The translational voice-activated search principles for technical content are common sense communication principles: brevity, topicality, and clarity.
It’s just what you think. Once you’ve done some research into phrases that developers might use to voice their technical question, edit the text of the technical content to ensure a brief answer to that question is included. How brief? Backlinko’s recent study suggests that the typical voice search result is only 29 words in length.
Again, here is where a technical editor can be helpful. Ensure that your content clearly answers a specific question, and that it answers it best. This is called — wait for it — the best answer strategy. Perhaps there are several specific questions that a deeply technical article might answer. (Even better.) Then your technical content has a shot at showing up in a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for different questions about that technical topic.
Clarity in technical content is helpful for several reasons. First, it will be easily understood and appreciated by your audience. And you will derive voice-activated search engine benefits. Keeping answers clear, concise, straightforward, and structured as a list is helpful to your readers. It also increases the likelihood of your content being selected by Google as a Google featured snippet (see image below).
This isn’t as contrived as it seems. Content featuring high-level “headline” lists with links to deeper dives aligns with how most developers prefer to receive information, according to the Evans Data 2019 Developer Marketing Survey. So, you can please developers and the search engine algorithm at the same time.
For the Road
Voice search principles are important to consider when producing technical content, because developers and other tech professionals use voice search to find answers to technical questions. However, optimizing for voice search isn’t going to hurt the quality of your technical content. Provided you have a good idea of the questions your content might answer, good technical editing will optimize your content for both human and algorithm consumption.