While Google dominates online search, we’re at the start of a new wave, which is voice search. This is becoming more popular as the technology has evolved to allow it to be easier than having to type in your search terms. It can also affect your SEO ranking as well, but works in a different manner compared to traditional search.

We explore the concept and how you should prepare your business for the rise in voice search.

What is voice search?

There are numerous definitions, but what we usually follow is:

Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search by saying terms aloud rather than typing them into a search field. The proliferation of smart phones and other small, Web-enabled mobile devices has spurred interest in voice search.

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Voice search basically allows you to search the internet by saying the search term or phrase rather than typing it in a search bar. This kind of search is used with digital assistants such as Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana.

Increasing popularity explained

According to an internal Google study they estimate that 41 percent of adults and 55 percent of teens use voice search every day. These numbers are US-focused, but this often precedes the technology shift globally. This seems likely to be fueled by Google Assistant and Siri on iPhone.

The proliferation of smartphones and improving technology has helped with adoption and it is often seen as an easy hands-free way to search.

We explore the ‘why’

This is likely due to convenience and the ability to multi task. The same Google report, highlights that 38 percent use voice search while watching TV, and 23 percent report doing so while cooking. Other users do so when walking or driving.

white and gray Google smart speaker and two black speakers

The fact that tech giants have released different version of voice assistants such as Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana, is clear proof that there is demand. The convenience of being able to search for something without needing to stop what you’re doing or pause a chore, makes voice search an attractive option for many.

Voice search and eCommerce

One industry seeing a positive impact of voice search is eCommerce. The ability to utilise the technology when making purchases allows users to make purchases in an easy and efficient manner.

This has led to some companies start to optimise their sites towards voice search. As more people invest in digital assistants for their daily lives and grow comfortable with voice search on their phones, the eCommerce industry will adapt accordingly.

How does SEO and speech work?

The rise in speech queries actually has significant implications for SEO. The simple reason is that the way we speak and type is very different for many consumers. For example, while you might type out “best co-working space in Kuala Lumpur” in Google or search engine of choice, but you’re more likely to say “What are the best co-working spaces in Kuala Lumpur?”. This may vary to include qualifiers such as availability, location or even price.

To fully leverage the new search option, companies have to optimise their content to follow the changing language.

Here’s how you optimise

  • Make your writing a conversation: Whether you’re optimizing for written or speech queries, the best way to have your content rank well on Google is to use conversational language.
  • Short answers work best: To appeal to voice search queries is providing short answers to commonly asked questions. Typically these should be around 2 or 3 sentences long, however, this is subject to change.
  • Make your keywords the simplest: The best keywords are the most common—not the fanciest—way to search for a topic. For example, optimizing your website for “best phone case” will do better than choosing a keyword like “high-end phone case” because ‘best’ a more common search term.
  • Have an FAQ: Though search engines like Google will often pull speech queries from larger bodies of text like your ‘About Us’ or home page, it’s easiest to provide an answer within an excerpt or FAQ. The simpler it is to access the higher the likelihood that Google will rank your website first.
  • Write long-form: Google still rewards long-form content even with voice search, so do not only focus on snippets.
  • Use ‘local SEO’ or ‘near me’: One of the most popular uses of voice search is finding local or nearby businesses and services. This often includes a phrase such as “near me” or “local.” Make sure that your listings online are up to date: Google Business Listings and any other listing service.
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