Did you know that 30% of all searches are conducted without a screen?
Wonder how can that be? The answer is simple — voice search.
Voice-activated devices and smart search technologies are rapidly taking over the home.
With that comes the need for more Google voice search campaigns and integrations to properly optimize initiatives, ensuring brands get as much traffic to their website as possible. Information technology service companies are focusing on optimizing voice search to help brands capture this emerging market.
More and more people are performing voice searches daily to find local stores, answer questions and learn. While this is still a growing field, solidifying your position as a market leader can put your brand on the fast track to success.
But to better understand how to effectively optimize marketing campaigns for these innovative search techniques, brands, agencies, and marketers, with the assistance of an SEO agency, need to learn more about the intricacies of this new technology and how to leverage it to maximize their online visibility, reach the right audience, and drive meaningful engagement.
Table of Contents
- What Is Voice Search?
- Voice Search Best Practices
- How Does Voice Search Work?
- What Is Voice Search Optimization?
- Benefits of Voice Search
- Voice Search and Its Impact on eCommerce
- The Main Players in Voice Search Market
- Why Brands Need to Begin Optimizing for Voice Search
- What Is Voice Search: Key Takeaways
- Voice Search FAQs
What Is Voice Search?
Voice search is an innovative, assistive technology that allows users to perform verbal searches through an enabled device.
More and more consumers are turning to voice rather than traditional search methods because of the ease –of use these devices offer.
Some examples of voice search include:
- Asking Siri to find a local restaurant to eat at for dinner
- Asking Alexa to search for a product, service or brand online.
- Using Google smart devices about local shopping deals.
Voice-assistive devices include:
- Amazon Echo devices
- Google Home devices
- Cortana-enabled devices
- Siri-enabled devices and more.
Voice search differs from the traditional search for obvious reasons: it is a verbal act rather than a written one. In addition to this distinction, the way voice searches are conducted and the devices used add a level of complication that can be difficult for marketers attempting to rank first in search results for these queries.
Often, searches performed using smart devices are long, ending in questions instead of single keywords. That means the marketing and SEO approach must be different from traditional techniques.
But how did we get here?
The Rise of Voice Search
The invention of smartphones paved the way for voice search.
At first, these devices made it easier for the consumer to search wherever they were with a few finger swipes. But with the emergence of assistive voice technologies like Siri, more people began voicing their searches aloud instead of typing them.
Then came smart home devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo. These voice-activated devices required users to speak directly into them to work.
This conditioned users to turn to voice search devices first instead of typing in their queries.
As a result, the way Google and other search engines rank content has changed. Search engine success now, depends on very specific voice inquiries more so than ever before. And that messes with a brand’s overall SEO strategy.
Voice Search Best Practices
By 2026, the worldwide voice recognition market is predicted to reach $27.16 billion.
With this in mind, brands and agencies must be ready to tackle increasing requests for voice search optimization.
But what exactly does that entail? Below are some essential best practices brands and agencies should follow to ensure they get the most out of their voice search optimization.
Reoptimize for Long-Tail Keywords
For starters, you must perform a complete SEO audit, which will pinpoint the most relevant keywords — not just for traditional searches but also for voice searches.
The biggest difference between the keywords used for traditional and voice searches is length.
Voice search queries are now 35 times larger than in 2008, so brands must start including more long-tail keywords in their content.
Similarly, many key phrases climbing to the top of the list include questions. Therefore, the content must be more informative and enlightening to provide a solution that answers these questions.
Optimize Your Content for Local
Not only do brands need to infuse longer keywords, but they also need to maximize their local impact. 76% of smart home speaker users conduct local searches at least once a week — with 53% performing daily searches.
Need more convincing?
Mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text-related searches.
Users perform voice searches mainly to get quick answers to questions that affect them. These often include finding relevant stores, restaurants and products nearby so they can pick them up quickly and easily.
Therefore, brands need to research where these searches are taking place and what local identifiers are being searched for. This way, they can maximize their impact through local, related content.
Consider Adding an FAQ Page
The more content available on your site, the more likely it is to be picked up by a voice search, plain and simple. And with the increase in questions posed through these devices, it’s best to dedicate an entire page to these longer keyword phrases.
According to Activate, there was an estimated 21.4 million smart speakers in the US in 2020.
It’s important to ramp up the content on your website to ensure it’s impactful and valuable for voice search audiences.
You don’t want to mess with the balance you’ve gained through an effective SEO strategy. Trying to stuff your content with these keywords where it’s not relevant can do more harm than good to your ranking.
That’s why it’s better to start fresh and take the time to create new content that answers these questions fluidly and effectively.
Don’t Forget Mobile
20% of mobile searches are voice searches, with 1 in 5 adults using mobile voice searches at least once a month, according to Global Web Index.
Users aren’t just turning to their Amazon Echos to perform these voice searches. They’re using their phones too. That means you need to ensure you’re taking a mobile-first approach to your marketing, design and development projects.
User experience matters. If a user performs a voice search on their phone, search engine will take them to a website. But if that platform doesn’t look or act the part, then it will turn them away.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Voice search technology is complex. It uses a combination of advanced technologies that power artificial intelligence — speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) — to understand and interpret the queries users enter during the voice search.
When you speak into a device, whether it's a smartphone or a smart speaker, the microphone picks up the sound waves and converts them into digital signals. It also filters the sound, taking up only the voice command while ignoring background noise.
A speech recognition algorithm analyzes digital signals, identifies individual sounds and matches them to phonemes or units of sound in a language. The algorithm then combines these phonemes to form words and sentences.
Once the speech has been transcribed into text, NLP algorithms take over to understand the meaning behind the words. NLP algorithms analyze the context of the query, as well as the user's search history, location and other relevant data to provide accurate and helpful results from external information sources, such as Google.
The voice search process is complex and involves many different steps, but the result is a fast and practical way to search for information handsfree — using only your voice. Since more and more people rely on mobile devices and smart speakers to access information and control their homes, voice search will be increasingly popular in 2023 — and it will be in the years to come.
What Is Voice Search Optimization?
Voice search optimization, or voice SEO, is a strategy that aims to improve a website’s visibility in the voice search results.
It involves optimizing website content to be easily understood and accessible to voice assistants and provide clear and concise answers to common voice search queries.
The leading voice search optimization techniques are understanding conversational language and creating content enriched with keywords and key phrases that users frequently enter. Content that sounds natural and conversational will improve website visibility in voice searches.
For example, in a typical voice search, a user starts the search using phrases like "Hey Siri" or "Hey Alexa" to activate the program. It can then be followed by a question or statement such as, “Where is the best pizza in LA?” The device responds with a spoken answer or displays top results from a SERP if it has a screen (speakers don’t have it, for instance).
The goal of voice SEO is to optimize the website content to rank highly in voice search results.
Benefits of Voice Search
The use of voice assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant is increasingly popular and it is pretty understandable why. Voice technology allows users to search for information, make calls or send texts using their voice while their hands can be busy with other tasks.
Voice search opens many opportunities for businesses to connect with customers and improve their online presence. Let's take a look at some of the most prominent benefits of voice search:
1. Quick Responses to User Queries
Voice searching is 3.7 times faster than traditional typing, which means users can search and get responses in significantly less time if they perform a voice search. This feature is handy and saves time when users need to type a lot to enter the query — for example, when making a grocery list for shopping or having a descriptive question.
2. Seamless User Experience
Voice search provides a more natural and conversational user experience (UX), which can improve user engagement and retention. It also enables effortless hands-free operation, making it easy to use when typing or tapping on a device is impossible.
Another aspect of improved UX is multilingual search. Voice search technology can recognize multiple languages — for example, Google Assistant understands over 30 of the most spoken languages. This means that language is no longer a barrier to using voice search; users can conduct searches using the language they are most comfortable with.
3. Improved SEO
Optimizing for voice search can significantly contribute to local SEO since many searches have local characters. Since users look for local keywords, optimizing for "near me" or adding the name of the town or neighborhood to your keywords is crucial. Your business can grow to the next level by implementing localized voice search.
With the growing popularity of voice search, businesses that optimize their content for voice search are more likely to rank higher in search results because they make it easier for users to find relevant information. This can lead to increased website traffic, higher conversion rates and, in the end, increased revenue.
4. Competitive Advantage
Adopting voice search technology can provide a competitive advantage, enabling businesses to stay ahead of the competition and provide customers with new search channels. It can also help businesses to target specific niches and audiences, provide satisfying UX, build brand awareness and differentiate themselves from competitors.
Voice search relies on customer search history and can provide valuable insights, such as user intent and preferences, which businesses can use to improve products and services and enhance the overall customer experience, differentiating a brand from the competition.
5. Increased Accessibility
Voice search is especially helpful for seniors and people with partial disabilities who have difficulty typing due to physical limitations. With voice search, they can easily access various online services and get quick results without needing to type.
Voice search makes the Internet more accessible to a broader audience and can help businesses reach customers who were previously unable to use online services due to typing difficulties. Therefore, businesses should consider implementing voice search applications to expand their reach and make their brand more inclusive.
Voice Search and Its Impact on eCommerce
Voice commerce sales will reach $40 billion in 2023.
There’s ample opportunity for eCommerce brands to take advantage of the voice search market. Consumers turn to these devices to get answers, learn more about products and purchase.
5% of consumers use voice shopping, but that number could reach 50% by 2023.
And to add to that, 22% of U.S. smart speaker owners have already purchased something using their devices.
Imagine how drastically these numbers will change once brands start following voice search best practices like the ones outlined above.
Consumers want a well-rounded digital experience. They want consistency and cohesiveness across devices and channels. Soon, this will include Google voice search experiences. And if brands aren’t popping up in those searches, they’ll lose out.
The Main Players in Voice Search Market
By 2027 global smart speaker market volume is expected to reach approximately $309 million.
It isn't surprising that most voice searches happen on mobile devices rather than smart speakers since voice search is mainly used on the go.
Consequently, virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa hold an 82% market share as the most popular voice assets and right behind them are wireless speakers.
The leading players in the voice search market include Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, Baidu, Deutsche Telekom, Jam Audio, Lenovo and LG Electronics.
The most commonly owned smart speaker devices in the U.S. are:
- Amazon Echo (20.8%)
- Google Nest (8.1%)
- HomePod (2%)
- Other (5.2%)
The largest markets for smart speakers are China and the United States. China accounts for over 40% of global smart speaker shipments, while the United States accounts for 30%.
Why Brands Need to Begin Optimizing for Voice Search
13% of all U.S. households owned a smart speaker in 2017; this is expected to skyrocket to 55% by 2023.
These numbers matter because consumers slowly but surely integrate voice search technologies into their everyday lives.
72% of people who own voice-activated speakers say their devices are part of their daily routines.
With more and more devices flooding the market and consumers making these products a part of their homes, brands, agencies and marketers need to learn how to leverage opportunities.
By following the abovementioned best practices, brands can be sure they won’t miss out on all voice search opportunities.
What Is Voice Search: Key Takeaways
Voice search is rapidly taking over the digital marketing world and is offered as a service by digital marketing agencies, with more professionals turning towards voice search optimization to impact this growing market.
If you want to do the same, you must take the right approach to your strategy. Some critical voice search optimization best practices include:
- Conducting an additional keyword research for long-tail keywords
- Optimizing content for local searches
- Adding other content in the form of Q+A pages to answer all search questions
- Prioritizing mobile-friendly content, layout and design.
Voice Search FAQs
1. How do I use Google Voice search?
To use Google voice search, launch the app and follow the on-screen instructions to enable Voice Match, which allows Google Assistant to recognize when you say "Hey, Google." After that, you can enter any commands or quests you want.
2. How to turn on voice search?
To turn on Google Voice search on your smartphone or tablet, follow these steps:
- Open your Google mobile app.
- Tap your Profile picture or the initial Settings in the upper right corner.
- Select Voice Match from the "Voice Match" menu.
- Activate with "Hey Google."