How voice search is impacting SEO?

June 9, 2016 - 3  min reading time - by Julie Quintard
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The number of users adopting voice search has been consistently increasing for the past few years and it has even been confirmed by Sundar Pichai, Google CEO. He announced recently that today, 20 percent of mobile queries are voice searches. As the technology to understand users is getting more and more advanced, it is critical for digital marketers and professionals to take voice search assistants into account in their search engine strategies.

What is voice search?

Voice search is a specific technology that is based on speech recognition. It allows its users to search by saying terms out loud instead of typing them into a search bar. After a thorough analysis of its expansive database, the technology will return the matching answer in the form of a direct result rather than a search result page.

In order to make the users interact with voice search, several digital assistants were designed.
Siri, Cortana, Google Now, Alexa or even Google Assistant are the main voice search assistants that are being used on a regular basis by people. Users are thus asking more conversational questions to their voice search assistant than when they are typing requests on their keyboards. It is a whole new way of asking requests for users.

With mobile and tablet devices now accounting for 60% of the whole online traffic and the recent news announced by Google’s CEO, it is certain that there are some content and SEO consequences.

How voice search is changing SEO?

The rise of mobile search

As voice search represents a much easier process than typing a request, its number of users has been consistently on the rise for the past few years. This effect is coupled with the increasing number of people owning a smartphone hence an increase in mobile search. Indeed, people are now more likely to use their mobile device instead of their laptop or desktop when requesting information. A study from Northstar Research revealed that 55 percent of teenagers are using voice search every day and that 56% of adults use voice search because it makes them “feel tech-savvy”. These same adults tend to use voice search to mainly ask for directions.

The appearance of conversational queries

This phenomenon is not that surprising knowing that voice search is clearly easier than text input. Indeed, the search becomes more natural when it is spoken out loud. It is compatible and essential to our pursuit of an efficient multi-tasking life. Most of us are looking for quick ways to fix and know things. And digital assistants and voice search in general are the perfect tools to do so.

The opportunities for local SEO

Moreover, mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local than text as mobile users are regularly looking for information with location enabled. There is thus a huge opportunity for businesses and site owners in terms of ranking for local voice searches. Some quick SEO mobile optimisations can be performed by local businesses in order to stay competitive.

How to adapt your SEO strategy to voice search?

Adjust your content for natural language

As voice search queries are more conversational than typed ones, it is important to find ways to adapt to it. Mobile devices users will now not simply ask for ‘classy green dress’ for example but ‘find an affordable green dress suitable for a wedding’. Queries are thus longer but also more informal than usual. Try to create content that can match this informal and conversational tone.

Use voice search yourself

A simple yet very efficient way to understand the impact of voice search on your strategy is to use it yourself. There is no better way to see the kind of results it delivers for your website. If you look for the different questions that might bring users towards your website, you will see where it ranks compared to the top and decide eventually on a specific strategy for voice search.

A recent study from ComScore revealed that up to 50 percent of search may be driven by voice in 2020 so it is only a matter of time before voice search catches up with text input. More money is invested in voice recognition technology so it is important for businesses to prioritise its impact.

Julie Quintard See all their articles
Julie worked for many years as a Marketing Manager at Oncrawl. Passionate about the digital world and about marketing, she regularly wrote articles about SEO and Oncrawl news. You can reach her on Twitter.
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