Voice search: a quick guide

Sanina Kaur

SK Copy Co

Voice search marketing, also known as voice search optimisation, does exactly what it says on the tin โ€“ provides online search results based on voice queries.

Voice searches are carried out using voice recognition technology, such asย Google Assistant,ย Amazon Alexa and Echo,ย Microsoft Cortanaย and, of course, good oldย Apple Siri. And Iโ€™m sure in another two to three years, there will be many more options for people to choose from other than the original contenders weโ€™re using right now.

Interestingly, the answers that are provided very much depend on the digital assistant being used, as theyโ€™re all powered using different data sources. For example, Siriโ€™s answers are based onย Bingย data whileย Google Homeย usesย Googleย insight.

Voice search isnโ€™t the only way people can use the internet to find information. Up until recently, the most common way of doing it was to type what youโ€™re after into your keyboard or mobile phone. And it was a perfectly acceptable way of finding what you needed online.

But as people have become busier and are using their mobile phones more on the move โ€“ from checking train times, the weather and news headlines and updating their never-ending โ€˜to doโ€™ lists, to getting directions and chatting hands-free or listening to podcasts while driving โ€“ the way they search for information online has evolved.

Why demand for voice search has grown

The rise of hands-free technology has fuelled the behaviour shift, and this, coupled with peopleโ€™s need for more convenient technology, has seen voice search rocket in popularity in recent years.

In fact, itโ€™s so major that itโ€™s anticipated to account for half of all online searches by 2020 (comScore). For more interesting voice search stats like this one, check outย this WordStream article.

While voice assistants may have seemed unnecessary not so long ago, theyโ€™re fast becoming a common feature within peopleโ€™s everyday lives. According to a report by PwCย 71% of respondents would rather use a voice assistant to search for something rather than physically typing their queries.

The difference between typed and voice search

From a userโ€™s perspective, voice search does the same as typed searches, provides them with information. But behind-the-scenes, voice search marketing couldnโ€™t be more different. This is because the search terms peopleย typeย andย sayย arenโ€™t the same.

Keywords and key phrases, which are rarely used in full sentences, are different from voice search phrases, which are more conversational.

For instance, if youโ€™re looking for sushi restaurants in Birmingham, you may well type,ย โ€˜Sushi restaurants Birmingham.โ€™ย Whereas, if youโ€™re asking Siri, then youโ€™ll most probably say something chattier like,ย โ€™Siri, tell me where there are sushi restaurants in Birmingham.โ€™

How to optimise content for voice search

This means that content has to be optimised differently for voice search. Thereโ€™s all sorts of best practice guidance available out there about how you do it and, having read a lot of it, the main overarching content-writing key takeaways, include:

โ€ข using natural language
โ€ข optimising for broader topics
โ€ข using long-tail keywords
โ€ข answering specific questions

Q&A blogs are a great way of ticking this box or you could choose to turn a key question into a headline and use the rest of the blog post to answer it.

However, you need to focus on peopleโ€™s most burning questions. Tools such as Answer the Public, Google Suggest and Quora can help you identify the most frequently asked questions.

This article provides a useful guide to SEO for voice search and so does this Search Engine Watch post. SEO has found its voice and itโ€™s getting louder by the day. Voice search is a whole different beast to typed search and is widely reported as being the future of search.

Whereโ€™s your voice search volume at right now?

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