With the constant bombardment of the 24/7 news cycle, social media and the internet, in today’s world people are always on the go–and they want their answers fast. That's where voice search comes in.
With the rise of digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, an increasing number of people around the world are relying on voice search to find what they're looking for quickly and easily. According to a recent study by UpCity in 2022, half of the US population reported using voice search features daily, with more than one-third (34%) reporting using them at least once a week.
Voice search has provided a new way for people to search—and it’s changing the way people formulate their queries. But how is voice search changing SEO? In this blog, we’ll explore how voice search affects SEO, as well as how marketers implement a voice search SEO strategy to increase sales and traffic to their sites.
To explore how voice search affects SEO, it’s important to understand what voice search is. In a nutshell, voice search is a technology that allows users to search the internet using their voice instead of typing. Think of voice search as a personal assistant who can answer questions for you by recognising your voice query, pulling data from the internet, and then relaying that information back to you.
Although voice search may sound like a new phenomenon at first, the first ‘voice search and recognition technology’ actually appeared in the 1950s. Since then, however, voice search has grown to become a powerful piece of tech that is inbuilt into many devices we use daily: our phones, our laptops, our television, and our smart speakers.
Although smartphones remain the most popular tool for voice search, smart speakers are also on the rise. According to research by Ofcom, UK ownership of smart speakers almost doubled during the pandemic. Just under 22% had one of the devices from manufacturers including Amazon, Apple and Google in 2020, but by the end of 2022, the percentage had risen to 39%.
So, how is voice search used? What demographic uses voice search technology the most? And can these popular queries be used for voice search SEO?
Here’s a list of popular voice search commands:
Checking the weather: "Hey Siri, what's the weather like today?"
Finding a nearby restaurant: "Hey Google, show me Mexican restaurants near me."
Playing music: “Alexa, play my workout playlist."
Setting reminders: "Hey Siri, remind me to call my parents at 4PM”
Getting directions: "Hey Google, how do I get to the nearest petrol station?"
Searching for information: "Hey Alexa, what is the capital of Italy?"
Online shopping: “Hey Alexa, buy me a pair of headphones from Amazon”
The popular search queries above show that businesses that gain traffic from action-based commands, like e-commerce shops and local businesses, benefit the most from voice search SEO.
These examples also show that voice search commands are more likely to provide long-tail keyword queries. For example:
Traditional search: “Natural History Museum”
Voice search: “Give me directions to the Natural History Museum”.
As technology continues to advance, voice search is becoming an increasingly popular way for people to access information online. With the rise of smart home assistants and mobile voice search, it's more important than ever to ensure that your website is optimised for voice search.
One of the key aspects of optimising for voice search is staying up to date with the latest trends and current affairs. Voice search queries are constantly evolving as people become more comfortable using this technology and new devices and platforms are introduced. By staying on top of these trends and understanding how people are using voice search to access information, you can ensure that your content is optimised to meet their needs.
For example, if there is a new product launch or a major event happening in your industry, you should consider creating content that addresses these topics and includes relevant keywords that are likely to be used in voice search queries. By doing so, you increase the likelihood that your content will appear in voice search results, which can help drive more traffic to your website.
Optimising for voice search requires a different approach than traditional SEO. People tend to use longer, more conversational queries when using voice search, so it's also important to use natural language in your content and include questions and answers that align with these types of queries. By doing so, you can improve your chances of appearing in voice search results and increase your overall visibility on the search engine results page (SERP).
In summary, staying up to date with the latest trends and current affairs is crucial for optimising your content for voice search. Likewise, by understanding how people are using this technology to access information and tailoring your content accordingly, you can improve your voice search SEO strategy and increase your chances of ranking on the SERP.
It’s also important to consider who is using the technology the most to improve your voice search SEO strategy.
According to a 2018 study by BrightLocal, 58% of consumers have used voice search to find information on a local business in the past 12 months. Moreover, the data showed that smartphones are the most popular tool for voice searches for local businesses, with smart speakers being the least commonly used.
Interestingly, those aged 55 and above are least likely to have used voice search for local businesses, but 33% would consider doing so. And men are more likely to have used local voice searches than women.
Voice search has become increasingly popular over the years, with more and more people using voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa to find information online. As a result, optimising your content for voice search has become an important strategy for businesses looking to improve their visibility and attract more traffic to their website.
However, as with any marketing strategy, it's important to know your target audience and understand their behaviour when it comes to using voice search. According to recent data, businesses that target men aged 18-34 using a smartphone are likely to benefit the most from optimising their content for voice search SEO.
This demographic is particularly important because they are early adopters of technology and are more likely to use voice search as a way to find information. Additionally, this group tends to use voice search more frequently than other age groups and are more likely to use voice search to make purchases or access local business information.
By targeting this specific demographic and optimising your content for their voice search queries, you can increase your chances of appearing in voice search results and attracting more traffic to your website.
When voice search technology started to gain traction in the consumer market — around the mid-2010s — many claimed it would fundamentally change SEO and dramatically reduce organic clicks. Now, almost a decade later, the answer to how voice search has impacted SEO is somewhat more complicated.
While it has changed the ways digital marketers improve their SEO to some degree, the theory that voice search would dramatically reduce original clicks didn’t materialise.
We spoke to Oliver Sissons, our SEO Director, about this. He believes, when using voice search in the past, people tended to elaborate more on what they're searching, creating longer queries. However, in Oliver's opinion, voice search has leaned towards shorter instructions instead — particularly regarding everyday tasks.
"When using voice search you tend to elaborate more on what you’re searching. However, in my opinion, voice search has leaned towards queries with shorter instructions for everyday tasks – like putting the timer on, turning the heating on."
— Oliver Sissions, SEO Director at Reboot
While voice search has certainly gained a lot of attention and hype in recent years, the influence it’s had on SEO is somewhat mixed, Oliver suggests.
"If voice search gets adopted more widely, I suspect that will be the case — that search queries will tend to get longer. But for the time being, people seem to use it pretty succinctly."
— Oliver Sissions, SEO Director at Reboot
“Right now, the tasks we ask the voice to do are more action orientated — but there are elements of search to it. If you ask Siri to call your dad, it still has to search through the address book, but it’s not traditional SEO as the way people think of it.”
So, is it all hype? Not quite.
Voice search can be thought of as another string to the web of SEO strategy — an essential tool to add to your toolbox. However, voice search hasn’t reached the point of changing SEO entirely quite yet, and traditional SEO and content marketing strategies are just as important as ever.
So, what are the pros and cons of voice search? And why exactly is voice search on the rise?
|Convenience and ease of use, particularly for hands-free searches.
|Privacy concerns around voice data collection and storage.
|More natural and conversational language makes it easier for users to find the information they need.
|Limited accuracy and interpretation for certain accents and dialects.
|Faster search results, as users don't need to type out their queries.
|Potential for misinterpretation or misunderstandings due to homophones or unclear pronunciations.
|Increased accessibility for people with disabilities or mobility issues.
|Limited ability to browse or compare multiple search results at once.
|Improved accuracy and relevance of results, thanks to advances in natural language processing.
This technology has numerous advantages, however, arguably the most significant benefit is its convenience and ease of use. With voice search, users can conduct searches hands-free, which is particularly useful when they are driving, cooking, or performing other tasks.
Unlike traditional searching, which may go through multiple revisions, the natural and conversational language used in voice search also makes it easier for users to find the information they need quickly and easily. As mentioned above, voice search increases accessibility for people with disabilities or mobility issues too, helping those who may find it challenging to use a keyboard or mobile device.
On the other hand, it’s important to consider the drawbacks of voice search technology too. One of the most significant concerns regards the privacy of users. The collection and storage of voice data can be problematic, particularly if users are not aware of how their data is being used.
As of now, voice search technology just isn’t quite there yet – with the accuracy and interpretation of voice search limited for certain accents and dialects, which can result in incorrect or irrelevant search results. Due to unclear pronunciations and audio quality, misinterpretation or misunderstanding is also commonplace, giving traditional search a further edge.
An overarching negative of voice search, however, it’s an inability to browse or compare multiple searches at once. This is the major reason why voice search will never completely replace traditional searching techniques – especially for users who are wanting to conduct more than a straightforward and action-oriented query. For businesses who benefit from traditional SEO practises the most – like start-ups, blogs, and service providers – voice search should be lower on the priority list than keyword optimisation and ranking.
Despite its drawbacks, voice search optimisation is still an important skill for any digital PR and marketing strategy. One of the fundamental ways to optimise for voice search is to keep in mind the context and make sure you’re categorising your content correctly.
Voice search often has a crossover with featured snippets, where you want to make your content easy to understand by the companies that are crawling it. It goes without saying, to optimise for voice search, you want to keep your content short, concise and succinct – rather than waffle. Have a clear structure on your website and make sure you’re categorising your content correctly.
The limited range of results that voice searching provides might be a downside for the user, but for an SEO agency, it can be a blessing since it forces the user to think about what they want to ask, resulting in fixed queries and answers. “It forces the user to think about what they want to ask for – which means queries are quite direct, and the answers in return are direct too,” Oliver Sissons, Head of SEO at Reboot Online said.
As a result, marketers should analyse their target demographic and focus on improving voice search SEO if it's a common search action for their consumer base. For instance, if you're an e-commerce store selling on Amazon, you might want to focus on voice search SEO, given that Alexa is owned by Amazon and the probability of returning shopping-based results from Alexa users is high.
Likewise, it's essential to determine which business you're optimising for and prioritise the strategies that will have the most significant impact on your business. For instance, if you're optimising a service-based business, it's less likely that people will be searching by voice, so traditional SEO and content marketing would be more suitable, given the higher search volumes.
It's crucial to consider how voice search can enhance the accessibility of your content. For example, if someone is unable to use a computer for physical reasons, they may be more inclined to use voice search. Therefore, it's essential to perform accessibility checks on your website and content, such as optimising your web content for voice search in all contexts.
Accessibility is something that is important in both traditional SEO and voice search SEO, and it’s important to keep this in mind when developing your SEO strategy. Optimising your website for voice search can enhance its accessibility, which can only be beneficial for your site.
Ultimately, voice search and SEO are not just about optimising your website for search engines. It's also about understanding your target audience and their search behaviour. By knowing how people are using voice search, you can tailor your content strategy to meet their needs and provide a better user experience. This can lead to higher engagement, more conversions, and ultimately, more revenue for your business.
In the world of digital marketing, voice search has become one of the most important pieces of tech to understand. It’s far from a passing trend, and it doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Given the increasing popularity of virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, more and more people are using voice search to find what they are looking for on the internet. As a result, optimising your website for voice search is crucial if you want to stay ahead of the competition and attract more traffic to your site.
Although not as dramatic as what was once predicted, the role of voice search has also still impacted search engine optimisation (SEO) in a notable way. Traditional SEO practices like keyword research and content optimisation are still important, but they need to be adapted to cater to voice search queries – particularly for contexts where voice search is commonly used.
Overall, voice search is still a valuable tool for any business to improve its SEO strategy. As more people use voice assistants to perform searches, it's vital to ensure your website is optimised for voice search. To reap the benefits of this impressive technology, your content strategy should be optimised for long-tail keywords, natural language, and conversational content that answers specific questions and provides valuable information.
Reboot Online provides top-notch digital PR and SEO solutions, including voice search SEO. Our team of experts can help your business achieve higher rankings, improve user experience, and increase traffic to your website. When booking with us, we’ll work with you to identify the best keywords and create engaging content that is optimised for voice search and resonates with your audience. Don’t wait – get in touch today to hear how we can take your business to the next level.