The History

One of the latest digital marketing trends to get people talking, no pun intended, is voice search optimisation. This is the concept of optimising your online content and keywords for those who use voice rather than traditional text search to find products, services and information.

Why Now?

Over the last couple of years, a whole new range of products from industry giants like Google and Amazon has hit the market, raising the profile of voice search exponentially. Millions more people around the world are now utilising the voice command feature on their smart devices, and not just to laugh at the robotic response but to navigate their device and search the internet. However, voice search isn’t actually all that new, it’s just become more mainstream. As many as three years ago, Google was already picking up on the voice search trend, remarking that  voice search had more than doubled in popularity between 2013-14.

More than half of adults also currently use voice searches, which illustrates just how much the market is growing. Devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home mean that people can interact with their voice-activated search engine without even needing a phone or tablet.

Mobile is also driving the voice search revolution, with the Mary Meeker State of the Internet 2017 report calculating that 20% of all mobile search queries are voice-based.

What is voice search used for?

The Mary Meeker State of the Internet 2017 report identified a number of instances when search users were more likely to choose voice search over traditional queries. Knowing and understanding what these factors and triggers are is the first stage in getting your site optimised for those users who increasingly turn to voice when searching for products, services or information.

  • 61% of users turn to voice search when their hands and eyes are needed elsewhere, commonly when driving
  • 30% believe voice search is faster
  • 24% use voice because it’s easier than typing on some devices
  • 22% use voice search because they say it is cool / fun
  • It’s easier than confusing menus say 12% of users

Knowing these considerations make users more likely to turn to search means you can begin to think about how your site should be optimised.

Optimising your website for voice search

If you’re keen to build your brand and drive more traffic to your site, you need to be present when and how your users search for your product and service. This underpins all digital marketing. When it comes to voice search, consumers typically prefer taking to typing when they are in need of general information and to source local information (such as when they are conducting a mobile search while out). It’s also called upon for entertainment purposes and to act as a personal assistant.

The way you approach voice search should differ to your standard SEO strategy. The reason for this is simple – the language of voice search is different. Voice queries tend to be more colloquial and conversational, while modern search habits tell us that we can truncate words and phrases on Google and input brief terms. We have learned that text searches can be performed quickly with abbreviated language and Google will still come up trumps.

A large percentage of people using voice search will often be looking for specific products or services using a conversational-style phrase. This means you need to look closely at the types of phrases and combinations of keywords that relate specifically to your business, brand or website. For example if you run a Chinese food establishment in Bath and you don’t offer in-house dining, your traditional SEO strategy may well be built around keywords such as ‘Chinese takeaway Bath’.

Voice search is more conversational and often based on ‘near me’ searches, due to the prevalence of mobile search when looking for local services. So, when you are optimising for voice, your search string may be much longer and might not include your location. The same person looking for “Chinese takeaway Bath” on their computer at home would be more likely to say “where is the nearest Chinese takeaway near me” when using voice search. This means your voice optimisation strategy would need to factor in those different search constructions.

The popularity of near me searches on voice means many devices will use Google listings to identify relevant results. It’s very important to make sure all of your relevant business information, such as address and opening times, is referenced on your site, in your Google My Business profile and in full on your local citations.

Remember, voice search is built on natural speech patterns and conversational style keywords. Using voice search is much easier and quicker than typing out queries, which is why more conversational phrases are key. This means you need to think past singular keywords and account for phrases that include words like ‘where’ ‘when’ and ‘who’ in order to maximise effectiveness.

A good way to naturally integrate conversational language into your web content is by using more Q&A style copy. Most websites will only publish question-based content on their ‘about’ page, which can limit the potential of your site when it comes to voice search. Use more query-style content in other areas of your website, such as on your blog page, in order to integrate common voice search phrases naturally into your domain.

The vast majority of people carrying out a voice search will do so using a mobile device, which means your mobile site also has a role to play. It’s worth differentiating your mobile site content from your main desktop site and factoring more voice search considerations into this version of your web presence.

Checklist of things to do:

As you get started on your voice search optimisation, you’ll want to integrate all of the above strategies and thought processes. To help make this journey easier, use the following check list of things to do:

  1. Accounting for near me searches is crucial for voice search success. Check your Google My Business profile to be certain your full address including post code is listed. Make sure the same address and postcode appears on your site and throughout all of your local citations, including directory listings and your Facebook Business Page.
  2. Review your mobile site content and check all key landing pages. You’ll need to build a target list of more conversational search terms and phrases and ensure this language is used throughout your site. Consider creating question and answer style blog posts and landing pages as needed.
  3. Carry out a thorough mobile SEO audit including optimising page loading times, introducing AMP and removing any barriers to conversion such as fiddly forms and too much text.

If you don’t want to carry out voice search engine optimisation yourself, contact Adrac’s SEO team today to find out how we can help.