What is voice search? 

Voice search uses speech recognition technology and combines it with search engine queries to allow users to speak questions or commands, instead of typing them.

The voice search software then digests what it hears from the users and presents them with a relevant answer.  

Why is voice search becoming so popular? 

Voice search initially became popular in smartphones and similar devices, where typing search queries can sometimes be time-consuming or inconvenient.  

In recent years, voice search has become increasingly popular in other smart devices too. In fact, it’s predicted that by the end of 2020, almost 50% of all searches will come from voice search.

Users are finding many different uses for their voice search assistant; from discovering the local weather forecast, learning answers to random questions, scheduling calendars, and more.  

And the list will keep expanding as new voice assistant technology is developed and users understand how to refine their queries for even better results. 

Users of modern technology want answers, and they want them quickly.  

With the average person able to type around 40 words per minute, but speak around 150 words per minute, voice search allows users to be more specific with their search queries with less effort. It’s no wonder voice search is becoming more popular!  

Voice search statistics 

1. 58% of people have used voice search to find information about a local business 

2. Voice search queries are longer compared to traditional text queries. They are usually 3-5 words in length. 

3. 20% of searches on mobile devices are voice-based. 

4. More than 20% of voice search queries are made up from a combination of just 25 keywords. Popular keywords in voice search include: 

  • Where 
  • What 
  • How 
  • Best 
  • Define 
  • Why 

5. Voice-based searches using a mobile phone are 3x more likely to be location-specific. 

How is Google embracing voice search?

Today’s voice search technology has become more advanced in understanding the natural language.  

Voice search technology relies on Natural Language Processing to grasp the meaning of words, recognise voice textures and behaviours.  

It started in 2013, when Google introduced a major algorithm update called the Google Hummingbird. The purpose of the update was to allow Google to consider the user intent and the meaning behind search queries, to help improve user experience. 

With time, Google has learnt our language, accents, and intentions by the way we speak. 

For example, when a user asks “is it going to rain next weekend?”, Google knows to produce results for the local weather forecast for the Saturday-Sunday period of next week. 

How to start optimising for voice search? 

1. Use structured data

Structured data, also known as Schema Markup, allows search engines to understand what the data on your website means. 

Essentially, it’s a type of metadata about the information on your site. Visitors do not see this data, but it does help search engines to organise the content on your site. 

It’s a very powerful (and underused) tool that is not only great for SEO, but for voice search optimisation too. 

2. Make the most of your Google My Business listing

The more up to date your Google My Business listing is, the more relevant (and useful) your site will be to potential customers. 

When users search for information on a local business, they’ll often be looking for opening hours, contact information, or directions. 

There are a couple of ways that a user might search for a local business:

1. “Digital agency in Hampshire” - If your site is optimised for local keywords, you’ll have a higher chance to appear in search results. 

2. “Digital agency near me” - For these types of queries, Google turns to users’ location and relies on Google My Business listings. 

That’s why it’s super important to make sure your Google My Business listing is always up to date with the correct information. 

Top GMB listings include business name, address, phone number, as well as a few high-quality photos of your business. Even simple information such as whether parking is available at your business could be enough to persuade a potential customer. 

With 22% of voice queries searching for local content, updating your GMB listing is the easiest place to start optimising for voice search. 

3. Target long-tail keywords

People speak in a different way than the type. Spoken voice searches are typically longer and more conversational.

Long-tail keywords are search phrases that are, unsurprisingly, longer than the usual search query and are quite specific. 

Longer queries are typically overlooked in favour of shorter search queries, but they are still very important. By targeting long-tail phrases and answering questions, you’ll have a much better chance of appearing higher in search results. 

It’s important to carefully analyse the words people use when searching for your business. Once you have enough data to understand common phrases and questions people ask, you can begin to create relevant content for them to boost your optimisation efforts. 

You can also optimise existing written content, such as your blog, to optimise for your newly found long-tail keywords.  

Why your brand needs a voice search strategy 

The future of voice search isn’t certain, but it will become more relevant, intelligent and accurate in the coming years.  

Now is the time for brands to start optimising their content for voice search and gain an edge over their competition.  

If you’re looking for a digital agency to introduce a voice search strategy into your marketing plans, then get in touch. Visit our digital agency in Basingstoke, Hampshire. We’d love to help your brand.

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