Voice search: what it is and how to use it

Voice search is more popular than ever. Last May Google said it made up 20% of mobile search queries: a huge and ever increasing amount. Here we take a look at how you can make sure your site is prepared for voice search.

What is voice search?

It’s when you say a query out loud rather than typing it in, and your phone’s software – either Siri, Cortana or OK Google – answers it for you.

Talking is much easier than typing when you are on the move or busy multitasking; it’s also quite novel just simply asking your smartphone for information and it telling you – much less hassle than having to read content!

How do I use voice search?

Voice search, although increasing in popularity, does require a change in the content on your site if you not already optimising for it. When people use voice search they will obviously use terms such as who what where why and when therefore, you need to optimise your content to answer these types of inquiries in a way that will be picked up by the search engines when they are attempting to pair up questions with answers.

These new search formats use much more natural language – conversational even. This is when content writing for semantic search really comes into play. In many instances, having content on your site that is optimised for crawling search engine bots and heavily keyword stuffed is outdated and not in the best interests for your site visitor conversion rates (although we’re sure you knew that anyway ???? ).

One potential problem is how to maintain your brand ‘tone of voice’ while having content that is portraying a more natural speech pattern. If your brand is already quite informal and conversational in style then it will not be as tricky as it may be for more formal registers or sites that carry a lot of technical data and subject specific jargon. There are of course many strategies to tackle these problems:

  • Use long tail keywords. Questions are posed in a longer format in voice search so a longer tail is necessary. When you traditionally search you are given a choice on SERPs of maybe a homepage or contact details for example, with voice search, users will ask a specific questions such as, ‘ How do I get to…?’ The voice search app then finds directions because it understands what has been asked- but only if the long tail keyword content was there to be found!
  • Have a FAQ strategy; address the who? where? what? questions in your web pages, blog posts and social media posts
  • Write content in a natural voice; more conversational, but still using the language used by your searchers

What are the benefits of voice search?

Results of a recent study conducted by ‘small biz trends’ in December 2016 found that 55% of teenagers use voice search daily and 56% of adults stated they also enjoy using voice search. That is a lot of potential traffic coming to your site – optimising for voice search will improve the likelihood of these searches ending up at your site rather than a competitors.

Post-Panda, digital marketers know how valuable better content is for improved rankings and site visibility. Websites with a more ‘helpful’ or ‘instructional’ content in blogs, guides and video content are more likely to benefit the most from voice search optimisation.

Now is the time to start making changes to your SEO strategy. If you have any questions, get in touch and we’ll tell you all about it.