Ever noticed how you’ve started talking to your devices more often? From asking Siri about the weather to ordering Alexa to play your favorite song, voice search has become a part of our daily lives. And guess what? This trend is also changing the game in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Now, you might be wondering, “Why should I care about this?” Well, it’s simple. As businesses, we want to be where our customers are. If they’re using voice search, we need to make sure our brand is heard (pun intended!).
In fact, voice search optimization is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ – it’s a must! We need to optimize our websites for voice search to ensure we’re not left behind in this digital race.
But don’t worry, it’s not as challenging as it sounds. By understanding how your customers speak, what questions they ask, and optimizing your content accordingly, you can stay ahead of the curve.
In the words of Bob Dylan, “The times they are a-changin'”, and SEO is no exception. So, are you ready to embrace this change and let your brand’s voice be heard? Let’s get chatting…err…optimizing!
Understanding the Basics of Voice Search
Voice search is a technology that allows users to make a search query by speaking aloud rather than typing into a search engine.
You can use it on all kinds of gadgets that can understand your voice, like your mobile devices, computer, or smart speaker. You can use it to find info, ask questions, jam to your favorite tunes, buy stuff online, and even boss around other smart devices in your home. Pretty neat, huh?
Around 71% of people would rather chat with their mobile devices than type when they’re looking for something. Can you blame them?
With the rising popularity of handy-dandy virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, or Google’s Assistant, it’s easier than ever before. It’s like they’re the middleman, connecting us and the digital world. It’s all about getting things done in a more friendly and chill way.
Wondering about how voice search does its cool stuff? Well, it’s all thanks to something called automatic speech recognition, or ASR for short.
Here’s the lowdown on how it handles a voice search:
- First, the voice search feature detects the speech or voice.
- Then, speech recognition techniques are used to convert the spoken words into text.
- Subsequently, natural language processing (NLP) recognizes the query’s structure and purpose.
- After that, it performs the necessary actions, such as initiating a search query or executing a command on the device.
- Finally, it provides an answer verbally by using text-to-speech technology.
Guess what? Voice search is totally winning hearts everywhere, from those hip and cool tech whizzes (yeah, looking at you, millennials) to our awesome elder pals who might see typing as a bit of a thumb-twister. I mean, it’s super friendly and easy! No wonder everyone’s loving it.
Why Should You Care About Voice Search?
Voice search is totally having a moment now. As our tech world keeps rolling ahead, voice search is really catching on. With smart speakers and virtual assistants, it seems like everybody is getting in on this voice-controlled gadget game.
And why are more and more people jumping on the bandwagon? Well, there are some pretty cool reasons:
Voice search is significantly faster than typing a query, as speaking is much more natural and efficient than typing. On average, people talk at a rate of 150 words per minute, while they only type around 40 words per minute. The increased speed allows users to obtain information or complete tasks more quickly and efficiently, improving their overall experience.
Moreover, voice search algorithms are becoming more sophisticated in interpreting human speech, enabling them to provide relevant results rapidly. As a result, users can save time and effort by employing voice search to find information instead of typing in queries and scanning through multiple search engine results.
One of the main advantages of voice search is the hands-free convenience it provides. This feature significantly improves user experience and safety in situations where it’s essential to keep hands occupied or focus on other tasks:
- While driving: With voice search, drivers can access information, make phone calls, or send text messages without taking their hands off the wheel, reducing the risk of accidents caused by distractions.
- During cooking: Voice search allows users to search recipes, set timers, or control smart appliances without touching their devices or disrupting cooking activities.
- Multitasking: Voice search enables users to retrieve information, control smart devices, or execute commands while performing other tasks, enhancing their productivity.
Voice search is crucial in improving digital accessibility for people with disabilities. It serves as an essential tool for facilitating independence and empowering individuals through technology:
- Visual impairments: People with vision loss can employ voice search to perform tasks that typically rely on visual input, such as scouring the web or executing device commands. By providing voice-based interaction, virtual assistants enable users with visual impairments to navigate digital environments effectively.
- Physical disabilities: Some individuals may struggle with typing or touch-based interfaces due to physical limitations. Voice search allows these users to access information and interact with devices by bypassing physical barriers.
- Cognitive challenges: Voice search can also assist users with mental challenges or learning disabilities by enabling them to engage with technologies using natural language, which is often more intuitive and more accessible for these users to understand.
Fostering accessibility through voice search technology creates a more inclusive digital experience, enabling users of all abilities to engage with the digital world independently and confidently.
How Voice Search is Changing SEO?
Think about it: when was the last time you used formal language with your digital assistant? Exactly. We’re more likely to say, “Hey Google, where’s the nearest coffee shop?” than “Find coffee shops in my vicinity.” Our searches are becoming more conversational, and if your SEO isn’t keeping up, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity.
According to a survey by SkyQuest, the speech and voice recognition market continues to expand as more users utilize voice assistants on their devices. With the rise of voice searches, the dynamics of internet queries are changing rapidly.
Instead of traditional keyword-focused searches, people make more precise queries using complete sentences, often in a more conversational language. This is changing the landscape of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as it has to adapt to focus on how users verbally search and what phrases or keywords they use.
This requires websites to incorporate a natural, conversational tone in their content, focusing on semantics and context rather than simply integrating keywords.
Voice search has remarkable implications for local SEO, with consumers being three times more likely to search locally when using voice search. Research reveals that 58% of consumers have explored voice search to acquire local business information.
This demonstrates that businesses need to optimize their online presence to cater to ‘near me’ queries, targeting local searches and ensuring their local SEO is robust enough to appear prominently in users’ voice searches.
Emphasis on Featured Snippets
Google uses featured snippets to respond to voice search queries. This means highly ranked content is not enough; the content must also be selected as a featured snippet. Including a brief, concise answer to a potential search query at the start of a page and then fleshing it out in more detail is an effective technique for achieving this.
The presentation of search results for voice searches considerably impacts SEO. Voice searches are predominantly made by people who are on the go, illustrating the convenience it offers.
Users typically receive a single, direct answer instead of a list of results from traditional searches. Therefore, businesses must aim for the coveted ‘position zero’ or the featured snippet on search engine result pages.
Position zero is the information that appears at the very top of the Google search result, even above organic results. Gaining this spot can massively boost a website’s visibility.
Increased Website Traffic
A study by Backlinko, which analyzed 10,000 Google Home search results, found that businesses could tap into this emerging trend by optimizing their content for voice search.
Digital assistants typically read out the top result when a user performs a voice search. By optimizing content for voice search, you can ensure their websites rank higher in search engines, attracting more visitors.
This surge in website visitors, a positive outcome of effective SEO practices, can potentially lead to more conversions, which refers to visitors taking the desired action on your website, such as making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a contact form. More conversions ultimately mean higher revenue for businesses.
7 Tips to Boost Your Online Visibility with Voice Search
With the rise of voice search, you must adapt your SEO strategies to remain competitive in today’s market. Here are some essential tips for optimizing your business website for voice search:
- Use Long-tail Keywords
According to Hitwise, nearly 60% of all searches are long-tail keywords consisting of three or more words. These keywords are not as competitive as one or two-word phrases and are often more successful in driving relevant traffic due to their specificity.
They are highly valuable in voice search engines because users who employ voice-activated assistants tend to use more detailed queries, resembling naturally spoken language, than traditional, typed searches.
Using more specific, long-tail, and context-rich keywords in voice search optimization is more likely to match the user’s intent and result in higher-quality search results.
How to do this?
- Use keyword research tools to identify your industry-specific long-tail keywords.
- Incorporate them naturally into your website content and blog posts.
- Use these keywords in headings, URLs, meta descriptions, and image titles.
- Target Question Keywords
Since voice search queries typically take the form of questions, embedding question keywords into your content enhances its discoverability. This means structuring some of your content to answer common questions your target audience may ask directly.
For example, if you run a cooking blog, don’t just have content titled “Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe,” but consider including content titled “How do I make chocolate chip cookies?” to better align with voice search queries.
BrightLocal’s Voice Search for Local Business Study 2018 found that 56% of voice search users look for local business information daily, and many of their queries are question-based.
How to do this?
- Identify commonly asked questions in your industry.
- Create dedicated pages that answer these questions in detail.
- Use tools like Answer the Public to find popular question-based queries.
- Optimize for Featured Snippets and Quick Answers
Google often populates voice search results using featured snippets–the short excerpts that show up at the top of Google’s search results. In fact, more than 40% of voice search results are taken from featured snippets. Hence, if your content is optimized to appear in these snippets, your visibility in voice search can considerably be elevated.
How to do this?
- Write clear, concise answers to common questions in your content.
- Use structured data markup.
- Aim to answer more specific or long-tail keyword questions.
- Enhance Your Local SEO
Voice search frequently caters to users looking for local information, making it vital to keep your local SEO tactics robust. Local SEO helps your business appear in local search results. This means when potential customers search for the products or services you offer in your area, your business will show up, increasing the chance they will choose you over a competitor.
According to Google, 30% of all mobile searches are related to location, and 76% of people who search for something nearby on a smartphone visit a related business within a day.
How to do this?
- Make sure your Google My Business profile is complete and updated.
- Use local keywords in your meta tags and content.
- Include the name of your location in the website title, heading tags, and body content.
- Use Conversational Keywords
Voice searches tend to mirror human conversation patterns more than typed queries. Therefore, integrating conversational phrases and natural language into your content is beneficial for visibility in voice search results. Try predicting the colloquial idioms or phrases your target audience might use in casual conversation and incorporate those into your content.
Nearly 70% of requests to Google Assistant are expressed in natural language, not the typical keywords users type in search engines.
How to do this?
- Transcribe and analyze conversations your sales and customer service teams have with your customers.
- Adjust your website’s copy to reflect the phrases used by your customers.
- Incorporate voice-optimized FAQs into your site.
- Create Web Pages that Answer FAQs
Many users find it convenient to use voice search to find quick answers to their frequently asked questions. Therefore, forming pages that concisely answer these questions can enhance your chances of appearing in voice search results. Plus, these FAQ pages can also serve as a rich source of content for featured snippets or quick answers on Google.
Google reported in a study that voice queries are 30 times more likely to be action-oriented than typed queries.
How to do this?
- Create a dedicated FAQ page on your website.
- Use natural language and questions in your keywords.
- Make sure the answers to these questions are clear and concise.
- Focus on Topic Clusters Instead of Keywords
Topic clusters, groupings of interlinked web pages that revolve around a central topic, can help you delve deep into a subject, increasing the chances of providing a detailed response to a voice search query.
By creating comprehensive content around a core topic instead of anchoring your content on singular keywords, you stand a better chance of catering to the wide variety of phrases someone might use in a voice search.
How to do this?
- Identify key topics in your industry and create clusters of content around these topics.
- Interlink these pieces of content to improve internal linking and enhance the overall user experience.
As more people use digital assistants and smart speakers, businesses must adapt their strategies to stay competitive. This shift towards voice search has raised a number of questions about its impact on SEO strategies, its importance in voice recognition, the future of voice search in SEO, and how it affects marketing. The following FAQs aim to provide insights into these pertinent topics to help you navigate voice search optimization.
Finally, with all the digital advancements in voice search, you need to focus on SEO and how to use it to your advantage. Take the time to review your current online presence and ensure you’re taking full advantage of this powerful tool. By incorporating these seven tips into your SEO strategy, new customers will discover your brand more easily than ever before.
Start implementing these strategies today to stay ahead of the competition and increase your visibility online! Don’t let this critical opportunity pass you by – start using voice search to drive more customers to your business.
Brian Shelton is an entrepreneur, marketer, and life-long learner committed to helping businesses achieve impactful results. He founded Grow Predictably to provide tailored marketing strategies to generate predictable, profitable growth. With over a decade of experience in the industry, Brian has helped businesses, large and small. reach their goals and drive positive change in the world.