OK Google: “What Is Voice Search?”

We’re sure that you have already used voice search at a certain point in your life. By using the hands-free function in the car to call home or asking what tomorrow’s weather will be like to Siri, the Google Home Assistant or Alexa. Voice search is constantly evolving and it’s becoming a more important way of quickly searching for information. Just as social media was a trend to embrace while mobile devices were getting more popular, so will voice search change our day to day habits. It is gaining more momentum and it will change the way people look for information, services, and products in the near future.

Why would people switch from typing to voice search?

We all know the struggle of autocorrect changing words into random other words, having to take off your gloves when it’s freezing to answer a message, and keeping to type wrong letters because the keyboard is just too small for your fingers. But did you know that at the same time we can type 40 words, we can speak 150 words? Typing has been the only solution for a long time, but it has a lot of flaws and recently people start to get annoyed by that. It is clumsy, unnatural, and slow while the world around us keeps getting faster. Voice search is ready to offer a solution introducing a fast, personal, and hands-free way of searching and commanding. It is just like asking for advice from a friend. It’s easy in the car, when you are busy doing important or fun things around the house, or when you just want to keep on your gloves. 

What is Voice Search?

What can you do with Voice Search?

Voice search
What do we use voice search for mostly?

Are you still confused about what you can do with Voice Search? Let us sum up some examples

  • General online search
  • Get direction
  • Schedule reminders/set alarms
  • Get sports scores
  • Check e-mail or schedule
  • Call or text someone
  • Turn on/off apps and devices

This is just a selection of what you can do with voice search, but the possibilities are endless.

Voice Search Assistants

To use voice search, you’ll need a Voice Search Assistant. Voice Search Assistants come in many forms. Either use your smartphone, tablet, or computer and say ‘OK Google’ (Android) or ‘hello Siri’ (iOS) to it to start searching. Or buy a virtual Home Assistant such as Amazon Echo (also known as Alexa), Cortana (Windows), or Google Home to help you with your daily tasks and questions.

What do voice searches look like?

Voice search will have a huge impact on our search behavior and on what we expect from search results. As a website owner, it is very important to understand how voice searches will look like in order to keep up and optimize the content of your website.

Voice searches are mainly done on a mobile phone. Phones have a small screen, so the searcher will see fewer search results compared to on a laptop or desktop. This is already an issue for typed searches, but since voice search is mainly done on phones, the issue will become more significant as voice searches will increase over time.  

When do we use voice search
When do we use voice search?

Besides, the searcher will not always see a search result page. Often, Google voice search or Siri simply read the answer to a voice search query out loud. If the searcher is happy with the answer, he won’t even bother to look at his screen to consult the other search results.

The popularity of virtual home assistants is growing at a rapid pace, the estimated number of people using smart home assistants such as Amazon Echo or Google Home is projected to reach 1.8 billion by 2021. Because these popular devices are screenless, there isn’t even an option to look at other search results. As the trend of having a virtual assistant is rising, Gartner predicts that by 2020 nearly a third of all searches will happen without a screen.

Typed searches offer you a page full of answers, while voice search results choose one answer to read out loud. In other words, the stakes are really high: if you’re number three or four in the search results, you are as good as invisible. Only position one or two counts when it comes to voice search.

Voice search - gender
Likely to buy something using voice search by gender
Likely to buy something using voice search by age

How to streamline your SEO strategy for voice search?

If you want to be the first search result on a search result page, your SEO should be optimized for voice. What should you keep in mind?

Keep it human

Voice search devices are designed to simulate a natural conversation. When we use our voice to search, we often use long-tail keywords and questions. It is important to understand how people speak about your business instead of how they search the web for information on your business.

  • Use long-tail keywords & conversational content. Write in-depth blog posts using long-tail keywords and start your heading with a question.
  • Short descriptions. Create clear product descriptions and summarize your valuable services in the FAQ.
  • Question keywords are on the rise. Voice searches are often questions. Use questions and answers to optimize for SEO.

Optimize pages for featured snippets

Google or Siri often use the featured snippet as the best answer to read out loud. Optimize to appear as a featured snippet is, in other words, the way to go if you want to connect with voice searchers. There are three types, but paragraph snippet is the most common type. They are mostly 40 to 60 words long.

Think local

‘Near me’-searches are the most popular among voice searches. Make it a #1 priority to keep your information on Google My Business, Bing Places for Business and other websites up to date.

Be as mobile-friendly as possible

Voice searches are mostly done on mobile phones. Make sure your mobile website is instinctive, fast, and good-looking.

When putting together an SEO campaign, great content is still king, but discovering natural language keywords that come through voice search could position you above your competition.

The impact of voice search on SEA

Although audio advertising is still niche, we expect it to expand rapidly in the next years.

Audio ads are already on the rise, we can find them on Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora, Google Play, etc. Another type of voice SEA is custom chatbots integrated into a Google Home or Amazon Echo. The Dutch supermarket Albert Heijn created a chatbot to help users find recipes. Simply say ‘talk to Albert Heijn, what can I do with ham and tomatoes?’ to your Google Home to find a delicious recipe. These commandos are called ‘Actions’ at Google. Google Actions have already been used by Disney, Starbucks, Spotify, eBay, Albert Heijn, etc. It is not easy to develop a ‘voice-bot’ and get it through Google’s tests to get it published. But once you have your own voice-bot integrated into a home assistant, the advantages are endless. Your brand is literally where your users are: in their kitchen, living room, car, etc.

Audio SEA integration in-home devices is still new but already exists within music stream services. Custom chatbots are currently the best option to reach your customers in a new way.

Fill in this form to receive an email with a presentation about the impact of Voice Search on SEO & SEA

You like what you read? Let's get the collaboration started!

We're all ears when it comes to your needs and ready ask the right questions - just enough to see your project come to life. Tell us more, so we can put your plan into action - from A to Z!

Request a quote