Voice technology – it is claimed to be the future of how we search for information, products and services, but what is it and how do marketers need to adapt in order to accommodate voice search as a part of their SEO strategies?

What is voice technology?

We as humans love to converse. We do it naturally! We tell stories, explain our lives, share our values and establish bonds using the simple power of our voice. We are now in what we call the new era: The Conversational Economy.

Meanwhile, technology has integrated with, and become a necessary component of, our daily lives. As a result, the attention of technology giants has turned to Voice Technology.

We all know about it. All of us at some point have asked a question to Siri, made Alexa stream music, asked Google Assistant to add milk to our shopping list or just asked the emotionless personality a ridiculous question to see what the answer would be. This did not happen overnight.

The rise of voice technology

It first began with a powerful voice recognition question-answer computer system called ‘Watson’ which stunned the world with its human-like intelligence, able to beat Trivia grandmasters on TV quiz shows.

Catching the attention of the tech-giants, the birth of the Personal Virtual Assistant was underway.   Between 2010 and 2016, Apple, Amazon and finally Google released their own versions, and visions, of voice search.

Today, voice technology has made its way to most of our daily devices, and our houses are quickly becoming an “Internet of Things” (IoT): a system of interconnected online devices, such as a smart TV or a refrigerator that tells you it’s time to restock on cucumbers (or does it for you!)

This interconnection of devices is still in its early days, and the impact on society has barely been seen. However, it has revolutionised the way we use our phones and the way we search for information.

The Significance of Voice Search

The biggest share of voice searches is currently being made on either a smartphone or a smart speaker and consumers are at the heart of this conversational economy.

How often is voice search being used?

Insights show that 31% of smartphone users use voice search at least once a week1, with Google’s mobile app & android devices showing the greatest usage – approximately 20% of all search queries were performed through voice.

Looking forwards, it is estimated that by 2023 the use of voice assistants will exceed eight billion2.

The shift in consumer behaviour around voice search is dominated by the younger generations with over half of teenagers are already using voice search on a daily basis.

But don’t let discount the older generations, 10% of people aged 55-64 also using mobile voice search3 – with 50% of the older population feeling empowered by its ability to provide answers to questions instantly4. There is still an opportunity to reach people of all ages.

So, while voice search may be the future, it is already here today – and the opportunity exists to be visible for your audience in a meaningful way.

Voice Search: The impact on SEO

Search Engine Optimization involves the analysis and implementation of various strategies and tactics with the aim to increase the position of a website or webpage in search engine result pages when people search for specific keywords and key-phrases.

However, voice search has changed the game significantly.

The intent and the manner in which voice searches are made differ drastically to a search query performed on voice, and that calls for a new voice search SEO strategy.

Today, voice search queries predominantly begin with “how”, “what” and “best,” there may also be more use of slang or localisms.

The types of questions that are being asked will also differ from regular typed search, voice search indicates people are looking for quick answers to questions – and may not be performing in-depth research or looking to review complex and detailed information.

In order to improve performance against these types of search queries, you will need to review your audience and your content strategy and understand what questions are being asked – and aren’t being answered.

How to optimise for voice search

Each business needs to consider its unique position and requirements for voice search. If you are looking to optimise your content for voice search, there are some specific ways to adapt your content.

Natural Language/Conversational Content

When a user utilises voice search, they tend to use more conversational keywords compared to desktop. Think about it; we don’t speak the same way as we communicate online.

For example, when we look for the “best pubs in Sydney” on a laptop, we just type it. When using voice search, we use more conversational language like “what are the best pubs in Sydney?”

Voice technology is well adapted to resemble an interaction with humans, just to activate voice technology you often have to ask for it by name.

Optimised search results will fit the conversational language that we use during a voice search, and content may be more differentiated by seasons and trends that we wouldn’t normally outline when typing a query. 

Keyword Length

 An average voice search is 29 words in length (long-tail), according to Backlinko. That is far longer than the three or four keyword searches common to a regular typed search.

We ask more detailed questions, specific to our actual intent when searching by voice. In comparison when typing our query, we expect to search through results and find the relevant results that meet our needs.

By creating conversational content targeting these keywords, we have a better chance of reaching targeted customers and generating the right traffic to the site. Hence, long-tail keywords play an even more important role than normal.

 They will also be best to gain market share of the featured snippet and show up in Google’s prime time spots. Tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs will help with the keyword search to help generate search volumes, keyword difficulty and other ranking metrics.

Local Content

Voice search is used more for local-related searches than generic search queries, and being the top of the local listing is the most important place to be when getting people to your store or venue is critical.

Local listings that are optimised will have a better chance of answering these queries and getting quicker conversions.

Hence local businesses should leverage the power of GMB listings and prepare as best as possible for voice search.

Mobile-Friendly & Site Speed

Given that the vast majority of voice searches are conducted on mobile phones, it is important that the website loads at an appropriate time and is optimised for mobile.

Google recognises whether a website is mobile-friendly, and this is one of the most important ranking factors.

Google Search Console has a mobile-friendly test that can help recognise if a website is good or needs room for improvement.

Another essential component in the mix is the site speed which goes hand in hand with the mobile experience.

Loading time not only benefits your search rankings but it also improves the conversion rates, which means more people complete a desired action on the site. It also provides a quality user experience and shows Google that the web page is user-friendly.

Voice search optimization employs multiple ranking strategies like accelerating site speed, improving content readability, creating more long-form content, as well as making your site more mobile responsive. Combining these voice search optimization tactics will place you in front of the competition.

Also, with voice search gaining rapid popularity, it will be the future of search engines, so implementing and planning your strategy to best adapt would be a wise move for businesses and marketers.

As the technology advances, there is never-ending potential for voice search as long as content and website are best suited to facilitate the new function needs.

Is voice search a priority for your business? Contact us today to speak with our team to understand how we can help you optimise your content and engage with this growing audience.

References

  1. Statista, 2019
    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1036727/global-voice-search-region-device/
  2. Juniper Research, 2018
    https://www.juniperresearch.com/press/press-releases/digital-voice-assistants-in-use-to-8-million-2023
  3. Global Web Index, 2016
    https://blog.globalwebindex.com/chart-of-the-day/25-of-16-24s-use-voice-search-on-mobile/
  4. Think With Google, 2017
    https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/data/voice-assistance-resonating-baby-boomers-empowers/
Divya Poojary

About Divya Poojary

It’s impossible to pigeonhole Divya. Having studied biotechnology, marketing and commerce; and with a background in athletics and dance; Divya is as unique as she is accomplished. Luckily for us, Divya chose MediaSmiths rather than the CSIRO. So her extensive skillset is regularly put to use for media planning and buying; as well as our digital and social media strategies. When Divya isn’t working all hours to get the best result for her clients, she’s working hard to get the top score on the latest Xbox game.