By Lydia Barley
50% of all searches will use voice by 2020. With all the hype around voice search it may seem like a buzzword. But with statistics like that, voice search is clearly something much more. While seeming like a buzzword, voice search is actually rapidly growing in usage with google voice search queries in 2016 up 35x over 2008. With the rapidly increasing uptake of voice search, it’s important to get ahead of it quick and begin making changes to your business. In this blog post we will unpack voice search; what it is, who uses it, why people use it and what it means for your business and SEO efforts.
What is Voice Search?
Voice search is a speech recognition software that allows users to make searches by saying terms out loud as opposed to typing them into a search field.
Voice commands are not only used to make search engine queries but are also used to; launch programs or applications, search for content in audio or video files, make phone calls and compose and send text messages.
Who uses voice search?
1 in 5 adults, across a range of different ages have used voice search on their mobile. The younger age groups are the highest users of voice search, peaking in the age group 16-24 with 25% using voice search on their mobile. While usage does peak in the younger age groups and continues to decrease along with an increase in age, the older age groups do use voice search.
Why do people use voice search?
The greatest reason for using voice search is convenience. Voice search is quicker with people able to speak 150 words per minute vs being able to type 40 words per minute. With the increasing number of people being time poor it’s no surprise that people use voice search to save some time. In addition to speed, voice search can be used when someone cannot physically access their phone, such as when they’re driving, with 42% of people saying that use while driving is a reason for using voice search.
What does it mean for your business and SEO efforts?
–Focus on more long tail keywords in your SEO campaign. When people are talking as opposed to typing they tend to use longer keywords. When typing out a search we use short phrases to find information because it saves physical effort while when using voice search we try to be more specific. Text searches are more concentrated around 1-3 words while speech searches are longer through the tail, this is demonstrated in the graph below.
–Include conversational words into your SEO campaign and target keywords that mimic the way that people speak. Voice queries commonly contain conversational words. When using voice search people treat the search like an actual conversation with the virtual assistant and often pose questions rather than short phrases. For example when typing on a phone, someone looking for a salad bar will say something along the lines of ‘salad bar perth’ as opposed saying something along the lines of ‘where is the best salad bar near me’, which they are more likely to do when using voice search.
–Ensure that your business is optimized for local search. Mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local based than text searches. With searches commonly being location based including questions such as ‘where can I get dinner near me’ or ‘where is a car mechanic near me’. The importance of optimizing for local search is increasingly important.
Below are some resources for optimizing your business for local search:
- The Ultimate Guide to Local Citations: Driving Your Local SEO Success
- Improve Local Search: How to Set Up And Optimise A Listing For Google My Business
- Local SEO: Advanced Elements That Enhances a GMB Listing
- Online Reviews And What They Mean For Local SEO
–Ensure that your website is mobile friendly. Voice search is predominantly used on mobile to ensure that your website is mobile friendly. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test for a quick and easy way to test whether a page on your website is mobile-friendly. Simply submit the URL of the web page that you want to test. The results will show how the page looks to Google on a mobile device and a list of any mobile usability problems that are found.
–Use structured data on your website. Structured data will assist Google with understanding your pages and will make it easier for Google to figure out which voice queries match your pages. For more information on structured data and how to implement it read our blog post Structured data: What it is and Why You Should Implement It.
With voice search rapidly increasing in usage it’s becoming increasingly important to stay ahead of the trend and optimize your business for voice search. By now you should understand voice search and should be able to begin implementing changes that will assist with preparing your business for voice search take over. Doing so, will not only prepare you for the future, but will provide you with a competitive advantage.