If you've been paying attention to recent developments in SEO or consumer electronics trends, you know about the importance of voice search.
Voice search is the technology that allows you to talk to your smartphone or smart speaker and have it look up information and talk back to you.
Whether you're optimizing for Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana, here's what you need to know to prepare effectively for this in your business. Here's a round-up.
Google Voice Search History
1. Wikipedia's not our favorite research tool but this entry does a great job of charting the evolution of voice search, especially if you take the time to read the linked references.
The article explains how voice search allows someone to enter a search query orally and tracks how the feature has evolved from a mobile only tool and has gradually been introduced to a number of Google products, including Google Home.
2. Google tackled the importance of voice search back in 2014 on their blog.
In an infographic, they released a tantalizing sliver of data on search trends in relation to voice search. Stats like 55% of teens and 41% of adults are searching with voice.
There’s also details on what we’re using search for. Definitely worth exploring. (Link)
Voice Search Commands
3. An article on Use My Droid shows some of the commands that people were able to use in earlier iterations of voice commands on Android mobile phones. Being able to give a verbal command to make a call was not new, but being able to send emails and navigate represented a major advance.
4. The Wordstream blog does a good job of explaining the difference between Google Voice (used for phone calls) and Google voice search (used for entering search queries on mobile devices). It also outlines some of the many commands you can use to search for information.
5. One important feature of the latest iteration of voice search is that it can answer your questions in several languages. While this is currently only available to mobile users, it will no doubt make it into the main Voice Search product soon.
Voice Search and SEO
6. The Search Discovery blog looks at some of the effects of voice search on SEO. It points out that conversational search changes the way users find information and gets rid of the previous reliance on keywords. While the article says that it is currently difficult to do complex queries via voice search it is clear that this is how the tool will develop.
7. The Customer Paradigms blog looks at the implications of voice search for both local stores and global enterprises. It points out that voice search attempts to translate a spoken query into something meaningful and also improves local search. It advises that businesses start to target more natural language and long tail keywords to provide a better user experience for customers.
8. Similarly, Social Media Today says that with voice search people will use longer queries. That this is something that Google will take into account in future iterations of its search engine.
9. Neil Patel, the content and SEO marketing guru, produced a short cheat sheet with everything you need to know about search. While it’s not really everything you need to know (it’s only three pages long) it’s a great way to get a rough idea of what you need to do and how you need to do to get your site voice-search compatible with structured data, schema and XML markups (Link).
10. Yoast, who we’ve mentioned on the blog before for their great SEO WordPress plugin, wrote a piece on how you can understand what people are searching for with voice.
Basically, people search the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where and Why.
Producing content that answers those questions (e.g. an FAQ) is a good way to rank for voice-based search queries. (Link)
11. Search Engine Land weighs in with a critical SEO strategy for how to rank for questions people are asking around your niche for a local business. Voice search will often use spatial context to serve results.
For example, you’re more likely to say: ‘OK Google, where’s the best craft beer near me?’ Compared to: ‘OK google, where’s the best craft beer in Waterloo?’ when you’re in Toronto.
This article will help local businesses rank for relevant searches when they happen nearby. (Link)
Content Production for Voice Search
12. CyberMark provides several tips on content production for voice search. It suggests that businesses should create content in an FAQ style to make it obvious that it answers users' questions. And because of the tie-in with local search keeping local profiles up-to-date is another great idea.
13. Copyblogger examines many of the implications of Hummingbird, looking at how voice search works with the Knowledge Graph and highlighting the importance of user intent in search. The article points out that the Google Now digital assistant product will be a part of the mix, helping Google to almost read users' minds.
With more mobile device users than ever, the introduction of voice search to global users means that businesses will have to pay more attention to mobile content optimization.
14. If you’re still a little bewildered on how you’re going to turn voice search into the next big thing for your company, Moz’s blog is great place to visit. They’ve produced resources around what voice search is, who’s using it (and what for), and how it differs from typed searches.
They’ve also gone one step further with a step-by-step guide for how to use PPC to not just build but optimize your search content over time.
15. The Amazon Echo Show is the latest addition to Alexa’s family.
If you’re not already, start producing video content that answers questions.
Third party integrations are going to be a big part of the Show, just like with the rest of the Echo family. If you’ve got an app that benefits from video functionality, make sure you’re working on integration capabilities.
16. Finally, we get to future proofing. If you’re already optimizing for voice search, you’re testing new keywords with PPC ads, and you’re ready to integrate with the Echo Show at a moment’s notice, what’s next?
Search Engine Land tries to answer that exact question, detailing the challenges of ad space on digital assistants, the role VR will likely play, and what marketers need to be ready for. It’s worth a read if you feel like you’re already on top of everything else.
Voice search, via mobile search, in-home, and personal digital assistants like Alexa and Google Asisstant, is on the rise.
It’s going to be an increasingly relevant part of our lives as devices move out of the early adopter phase and into the hands of the public at large, and as the market stratifies to offer a range of price points (just like smartphones did).
The result will be more voice driven search traffic.
What’s more, it’s going to increasingly become the default way people search, rather than an auxiliary to typed queries.
People may soon expect that they should be able to get information from your website without having to look at a screen.
To keep a step ahead of consumer demands, businesses will need to embrace voice search, and use these resources to keep their websites voice search friendly.