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Answering Your Questions on Conversational SEO

Tamara Wilhite is a technical writer, industrial engineer, mother of two, and published sci-fi and horror author.


Conversational search engine optimization involves answering the questions people ask whether through Cortana, Siri, or Amazon’s Echo, their infotainment systems in their cars, or the digital assistants on their phones. But how can you turn common questions into content that promotes your business? Which conversational queries can you use to improve your SEO and conversions from visitors to customers?


  • Who makes X?

If they are talking about your product, your content needs to include this statement. If it is a general question about who in the area makes a product, it needs to include your product and local references.

  • Who does X?

This question is perfect for local SEO for a service provider. They want to know who performs this service, and it should be capitalized on by any service provider who does it.

  • Who is X?

If the query is about a lead person in the organization, it should ideally reference the company or brand if the association is positive. If it is a question on a famous person, most businesses shouldn’t try to compete with online encyclopedias that have higher domain authority with search engines.

  • Who did X?

Unless your company is famous for being the first to do something or its founder invented something, JavaScript’s invention by Firefox’s founder, for example, you aren’t going to rank well for these queries.

"Who makes this?" is an excellent lead in for the manufacturer.

"Who makes this?" is an excellent lead in for the manufacturer.


  • When does X open?

Your business hours need sufficient conversational SEO to land in the top spots in response to this query about your business, and instant answer hCards should include your business’ hours of operations, as well.

  • When does it close? / When did X close?

This is another case of having instant answers answer the question in addition to business hours in business directories. Another factor to consider is explaining when a location closed and where its closest open branch is located or where the business relocated to.

  • When do I need to have X done?
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When should you get your first mammogram? If you’re a doctor who offers this service, this is a query you can try to answer and reference your business in the process. When should I get tires replaced? There are many auto mechanics who receive business answering this, especially when they refer to specific brands of tires or queries related to wheel damage.

  • When does it need maintenance?

When do I really have to get that expensive car serviced? How often does the oil really need to be changed? If you can refer to a specific brand and / or issue in this query, you’ll land visitors who probably need the service and will appreciate an answer other than “come in every few months regardless of actual need”.

  • When does X happen?

Queries like this regarding common events like Easter or a town parade won’t rank well when answered by a business. The few exceptions will include a company’s annual picnic, sales or charitable activities like attending a charitable fun run. Make sure to include backlinks to the website and reference the company and brand by name in such content.

  • When is X on sale?

This type of query comes from someone interested in buying your product. Make certain you explain when the item is on sale and offer coupon codes, discounts or tips on how to save money even if it isn’t on sale to rank well in these queries.


  • Where is X?

If this query is on a landmark, you shouldn’t bother with the content on it unless you’re the restaurant in said convention center or a hotel next to the venue. In every other case, such as when they want to know where your company is located, the answer to the conversational query should be consistent formatting and complete business directories, map capsules, and location references in SEO.

  • Where are X service providers?

Where is a hospital near me? Where is a dry cleaner near here? This is another situation where local SEO puts your information front and center in front of people ready to give you money to solve their problem. Good reviews will help push your business to the top few results.

  • Where can I find X?

This is another case where information on landmarks is rarely something a business can capitalize on unless you’re intimately related, such as a business offering walking tours of the French Quarter of New Orleans talking about the local historical attractions.


  • What is X?

You must rank at the top of any search for your brand, products, or company name. Don’t forget to include Wikipedia entries if you can get them set up, given the authority of that domain. Otherwise, building brand recognition through social media outreach helps you rank well with these queries.

  • What does X mean?

If this is a standard definition, you’ll lose out to higher authority domains. If you are a translation service, you can try to link the answer to your service in case others have similar questions. If you are a tutoring company, you can use academic versions of this question as a lead into your service. If it is an error message, your content should discuss how to clear the error and when the user needs to call for service like with your company.

  • What is X error?

The content focused on this conversational query should explain what the error means, how someone can fix it themselves if possible, and when to call for service with you such as when the error re-occurs or if other error messages show up.

  • What should I do?

If this is a personal question, anyone from a life coach to a counselor could capitalize on it. It can also be used for troubleshooting guides, such as “what should I do when my car does X?” Then refer to your business as the best resource if the do it yourself advice wasn’t good enough or the problem should only be tackled by a professional.

  • What are the problems with X?

This is a question that comes up when someone either needs X repaired or is researching the negative information about X looking for reasons not to buy it. In the first case, it is an excellent lead-in for service providers who fix it. In the latter case, it is a good way to promote your rival product or the later version of your product that solved the problems with the earlier version. In some cases, it can be a lead into the accessories that do what the main product does not.

Unless the query is "What is X title?" or "Who wrote X?", it is hard to use "what' questions for voice SEO to market items.

Unless the query is "What is X title?" or "Who wrote X?", it is hard to use "what' questions for voice SEO to market items.


  • Why is it doing X?

This is a good lead into the content on troubleshooting a problem and referring to when the person needs an expert’s help, yours.

  • Why does X happen?

If this is a purely informational query, you’ll usually lose out to higher domain authority sites, such as “why does the Electoral College meet?” or “Why do cicadas only come out every few decades?” There are cases where well written and widely shared content can dominate, such as pest control companies writing about why termites swarm and what one should do when they see it—call that pest control company.

  • Why should I do X?

In some cases, you can rank well with this query by writing a pros and cons list that refers to your company positively. Or at least explain why they should do X with your product or service.

Most people can't use conversational queries like "Why is the sky blue?" for SEO because they lost to Wikipedia.

Most people can't use conversational queries like "Why is the sky blue?" for SEO because they lost to Wikipedia.


  • How do I X?

This is an excellent query you can dominate with high-quality how-to content and then show how your product helps them do it. You can win with videos on sites like Youtube that show people how to do it with verbal plugs for your product that can’t be edited out by ad blockers. And you can use these types of how-to videos or text to refer to your service when they need a professional, such as when they can’t do it right or additional problems are found. Even text-based how-to content can be search engine optimized, while pictures of your product and professionals in uniform build brand awareness without affecting the SEO capabilities of the text.

  • How should I X?

This is another case where you write the pros and cons that favor your product or service and don’t help your rival.

  • How is X made?

You should use brand heavy SEO to rank well in similar queries for your own product or service. Engaging videos and content could help you rank well for general queries about the product or service, like “How is oatmeal made?”


  • Which X is better?

“Which” is the start of a comparison query invaluable to someone’s marketing content. These queries come when someone is comparing products or services and is very close to buying. Your content needs to state why you are better than your competitor without referring to the competitor so much by the name they see it as challenging them on their brand SEO and so that you don’t rank too high in their brand-specific SEO since the bounces off page will hurt the rankings

  • Which ABC should I use?

This question is a comparison between service providers. Your content to answer this query needs to say why they should use you versus your rivals. Don’t forget the value of ratings and reviews to improve your status

  • Which X did Y?

In some cases, this query is asking which company had a negative event – and you want to make certain you aren’t lumped in with the negative publicity. Is your car lineup not affected by the Takata airbag recall? Was it your rival that had health code violations? Clarify in your content that it wasn’t you, or if it was you, that you’ve solved it, like Chipotle changing procedures after foodborne illness outbreaks.

Did your company come out as the first in the area to do X? Did you invent a process? Say so in your content so you come up at the top of these queries.

  • Which stores sell X?

This is a question answered by a mix of good local SEO, perfect classification in business directories and good SEO related to products. Are you one of the few businesses in the area that sell X? Your home page should say this, and ideally, so should the descriptions in your business directory.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

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