Voice search, What is it, and should I be optimising for it?

Its been said,

we’re in the middle of a voice search revolution

but is it true?

What is voice search?

 And is it worth optimising your website for it?

Middle of a voice revolution?

Let’s Look at some stats supporting that statement.

  • Google says that 41% of adults and 55% of teens use voice search daily.
  • According to google trends, Voice search itself has grown 35x since 2008.
  •  20% of all Google mobile queries are voice search.

The Stats don't end there....

  • According to Geomarketing 6 in 10 people believe that voice-activated devices are essential to their lives.
  • ComScore states that by the year 2020 50% of all searches will be by voice.

We don’t know if that prediction is accurate but it’s quite clear that voice is becoming a significant search method, and it’s quite easy to see why. Firstly, voice search is more convenient especially on mobile typing “the largest creator on the moon” on an iPhone is a huge pain. However, saying out loud is as easy as pie! Searching with voice is 3.7X faster than typing, faster searches = faster results. It’s perfect for mobile users in fact according to stone temple nearly 60% of mobile searchers use voice search at least “some of the time”. So, it’s quite clear that voice search is on its way up, but what exactly is it?

What is voice search?

According to Wikipedia;

Voice search, also called voice-enabled, allows the user to use a voice command to search the Internet or a portable device. Currently, voice search is commonly used in "directory assistance", or local search. Examples include Google 411, Tellme directory assistance and Yellowpages.com's 1-800-YellowPages.

How does this affect SEO?

Voice search is very different from typing, voice changes:

  • How
  • When
  • And What people search for


Voice searches are longer and more conversational; Bing has noticed that voice search Keywords are more extended than text-based searches. And it’s not just longer. Voice search is far more conversational, less computer talk, Google states that 70% of searches on their assistant use what they call “natural language.”

For example, if you wanted to search how to fix your shoes at home, you might type;

Searching on google is becoming more ad more voice activated
“Shoe Fixes”

However, you might say, when searching with voice

“Hey, Google, how can I fix my shoes at home?”


Being so handy voice search is being used more and morefrequently and therefore in more places than ever.

Google reports that “(Keyword) near me now” searches have grown by an incredible 150% over the last two years.

 For example, let’ssay you travelled to Dublin and wanted to find a shoe shop, a few years agoyou’d head to Wi-Fi area get out your phone and type

“Shoe Shop Dublin”

However, now thanks to new Location technology, Voice searchand LTE, you can do a voice search where ever you might be.

You’d say something like:  

“where’s the nearest shoe shop to me?”


Google is answering peoples searches in the SERP now

Google is changing slowly from a search engine to an “answerengine”.

Thanks to new features on SERPs such as Knowledge graph and structured snippets, the number of organic clicks have dropped by 37%. This is because you don’t have to visit a site to get your answer, it's right there at the top of the results page. Moreover, Google is using this same answer focused technology to provide voice search results.

For example, let’s say you wanted to find out what the soulsof shoes are made from.

Previously you’d have searched something like shoe solematerial and have to comb through numerous sites to find your answer.

 However, with voicesearch, you can get the answer read back to you within seconds.

You still do get the traditional ten blue links; however,this is becoming less common. Even when you get the blue links from a voicesearch, you still get the featured snippet read to you.

What does this mean for SEO content creators?

In short, the content will need to give people directanswers to their questions; otherwise, it’s going to get harder and harder toget your content in front of people.

OK so how do I do Keyword research for voice?

  1.  Firstly, you need to look for “natural Language” Keywords
    As I’ve said before Voice searches are more conversational than text-based searches, so robotic Keywords like Shoe Shop London are being replaced by Where’s a good shoe shop in London. And when you evaluate your Keywords, keep this in mind.  
  2. Target Question Keywords

    Question Keyword searches are up 61% year on year, and this is thanks to voice search. If you wanted to rank higher on google a few years ago, you’d probably have searched for something like “SEO”. However, now with voice, you’re going to ask a question “How do I get my site to rank Higher on Google?”
    Already question Keywords are appearing on Keyword research tools.
    It takes a bit of digging, but there are tools out there to help you Get your Question Keywords.  
  3. Don’t avoid really long Keywords!

    Most marketers avoid really long keywords, completely, very few people search for them so why would you want these? However, with voice, the “normal” keyword length is getting longer and longer. So, it would be a good idea to optimise your content for 5+ word phrases. If Google finds a Keyword anywhere in a bit of content, they will use it as a voice search, meaning you don’t have to optimise an entire page around these phrases. Just sprinkle them into your content.  

How to optimise content for voice search

The good news here is that you don’t have to overhaul yoursite completely, in fact, your website can be voice search ready in a fewsimple steps

Optimise for featured snippets

40.7% of voice search answers come from the featuredsnippet; it’s like a voice search cheat code

Forexample, if you do a voice search “is Smoking bad for you” the answer you get

According to the NHS, Coughs, colds, wheezing and asthma are just the start. Smoking can cause fatal diseases such as pneumonia, emphysema and lung cancer. Smoking causes 84% of deaths from lung cancer and 83% of deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

read to you.

Whereas if you type it into google, you can see the featured snippet is practically the same.

Optimising for Featured Snippets is a good way of preparing for Voice Search

Getting in the featured snippet is more important whenpeople are searching using a google home or amazon echo as they only get oneresult!

Include short, concise answers in your content

The average Voice search answer is 29 words, so for thatreason its important that your content answers the query in 30 words or less.Having said that don’t just write a 30-word blog post.

It might be a good Idea to…

Create FAQ pages to answer voice search

Creating FAQ pages are a great way of optimising for voice search

These are Perfect for voice search as the Question Keywordsthat are on the rise are optimised here and providing short, concise answers tothe questions will help optimise the featured snippet. Voice search answers are1.7x more likely to come from a FAQ page compared to desktop results.

Embed Long Tail Keywords into long-form content.

As we’ve discussed Voice searches are significantly longerthan typed searches, but this does not mean you have to write 1000 pages tooptimise for 1000 different voice search phrases. Google will pull the answerfrom a page, even if that only makes up a small part of the content, whichmeans it's not that important to have the exact Keyword in the title tag. So,it's important to embed lots of Longtail Keywords into your content, becauseevery time you do that page can rank for different voice search queries.   

Write content in ‘natural’ Language.

Voice searches are less robotic and more ‘natural’ thantyped searches. Therefore, you want to write your content in the same way.

That way when someone searches

how do you InMail on LinkedIn

Google will find a match in your content

Using Natural Language in your Content is a great way of optimising for Voice Search

In summary.

Yes, we are in the middle of a voice search revolution, yes,it’s important to optimise for it, otherwise like the businesses that didn’tget on the digital marketing train you’re going to get left behind. I havegiven you some useful tips to get started, but these are just the tip of theiceberg. Its hard work but VSO (Voice Search Optimisation) makes your contentmore human using natural language. Right now, it is a perfect time to optimiseand gain an edge on your competition. Is now a good time for you?

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