Voice Search (also called voice search) is a feature found on a wide range of digital devices that allows users to retrieve information by speaking to the device instead of searching for keywords in Google using the keyboard. While this may seem like a brand new feature, it is actually something that Google already introduced back in 2002.
However, at the time, the technology was so poor that, unfortunately, good results were not often found with Voice Search, and many people therefore associated it with frustration. It wasn't until 2011, when Apple chose to integrate the digital assistant Siri into their iPhone 4S, that interest in Voice Search picked up again. But here too, a number of problems arose in the form of voice recognition and semantic decoding.
Fast forward to today and things look very different. Several of the biggest tech companies, including Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, have their own digital assistants that users interact with by voice. Today, there are more providers on the market, but beyond that, the quality of the voice search experience is also significantly better.
How to search engine optimize for voice search
We shouldn't expect it to be long before more and more businesses are waking up to Voice Search, if they aren't already implementing it into their SEO strategy. A number of experts and media such as Forbes and Searchmetrics predicts that in the near future we will be more and more likely to find information using Google Assistant, Siri, Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa.
With Voice Search, users don't have to take their mobile out of their pocket, then pull up Google, type questions or keywords into Google and browse. Instead, users can skip all these elements and let Google Assistant or Siri do the work for them.
What can you do to optimise your website for Voice Search? One of the things you need to focus on is mobile optimisation, as most voice searches are made on mobile. This is even though Voice Search is available on a wide range of digital devices such as smart home systems and desktops. Read more in our guide on mobile-friendliness.
- Find out if you have "Crawl Errors" or 404 error on the website
- Check your "Mobile usability report" in Google Search Console
- Run a "Fetch and Render" test in Google Search Console
- Check your most important pages with the "Page speed insight tool"
- Check how fast your website loads in WebPageTest.org
- Make your own tests on different devices and in different browsers
- Test your video content for Flash
Local Search Results
Users looking for answers to questions with Voice Search are often interested in local search results. Local results are displayed for users searching for places or businesses near where they are. It's therefore beneficial to improve or update your business's local tang by using Google My Business. For a guide to Google My Business here.
- Provide complete and accurate information about your company
- Confirm your locations with company addresses
- Interact with customers by responding to their reviews of your business
- Add relevant and engaging images that showcase the products you sell
Search engine optimisation (SEO)
There is a big semantic difference between how users search on the keyboard and by voice. When searching on the keyboard, users tend to search for a few specific words, whereas with Voice Search they speak in whole sentences consisting of several words. Therefore, when optimising keywords for Voice Search, think in terms of complete sentences and concrete questions. We've created an SEO guide that goes through how to find your company's most relevant keywords and search phrases in the article on keyword analysis.
- Think about what your target audience is looking for to find your products or services
- Use Google's own search function to find relevant keywords and search phrases
- Find variations of your relevant keywords with "Google Keyword Planning"
- Get inspired by the keywords your competitors use
- Find the questions your potential customers are asking on Google, where your keywords are included with "Answer The Public".