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How Voice Search Could Change The Future Of SEO

By philip on May 6, 2016

voice search

Do you own a smartphone or maybe some other mobile devices? Most probably you do. It may sound obvious but the amount of people owning a smartphone is increasing.

Surveys conducted by Pew Research Center shows smartphone ownership in America has significantly increased compared to the previous years. The increase in smartphone usage will surely affect SEO in the future especially with the rising trend of voice search usage.

Why Mobile Search is going to be more important

Mobilegeddon prioritize mobile-friendly websites in ranking mobile search results. Source: Search Engine Land

Mobilegeddon prioritize mobile-friendly websites in ranking mobile search results. Source: Search Engine Land

On April 21, 2015, Google released a new mobile-friendly algorithm update which gives priority to mobile-friendly websites in the Google’s mobile search results. The name of the update was Google Mobile-Friendly Update or also known as Mobilegeddon.

An article by Google titled “Helping users find mobile-friendly pages,” these are the criteria detected by the Google to consider a page as mobile-friendly:

  1. Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
  2. Uses text that is readable without zooming
  3. Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
  4. Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Head over to Google Mobile-Friendly Test to check whether your website meets the criteria. Do not stop there but check your website and find the percentage of traffic who are mobile users. Most likely your mobile users are using voice search and you are not reaching to them yet.

Let’s move on to my main topic for today.

What is voice search?

voice search

Google Voice on desktop. Source: SteamFeed

Voice search allows a user to speak a smartphone and generate searches by speaking. If you own an Apple, Microsoft, or Android smartphone, you are either familiar with the voice search function or not. Siri, Cortana, or Google Now are the intelligent personal assistant to answer queries, do a task, open application(s) and so on based on their capabilities.

You might be wondering, what’s the big deal with voice search if I could type as fast as a bullet train, to do the same task, tap on my application(s)? Well, I believe that voice search is the future where typing is not needed and all you have to do is say the command. These are some of the popular voice search apps on these devices:

  1. Apple – Siri,Hound
  2. Microsoft – Cortana
  3. Android – Google, Hound
voice search

Apple (Siri), Microsoft (Cortana), and Android (Google Now). Source: Softpedia

How people use voice search

Now, are you holding your smartphone and testing voice search? If yes, this research could help you to get started in your everyday life. Google commissioned a study, conducted by Northstar Research on who and where do people use voice search. The survey surveyed 1,400 Americans across all ages.

voice search mobile

You can see above that teens and adults are already using voice search in a wide range of their daily activities. The activity and the timing has a role to play with using voice search too. Voice search have already made things easier and efficient but it will only grow more in the future.

In my opinion, voice search can break through the barrier of just being a “geek thing” rather it will be just another common way to use the smartphone.

How voice search will change SEO?

The current SEO techniques are based on text search. There are three ways of how people type in search queries. The first is navigational search queries. Navigational search query is intended to find a particular website or webpage. For example, you will just enter youtube into the search box rather than typing the URL.

The second search query is informational search queries. Wikipedia defines informational search queries as “queries that cover broad topic for which there may be thousands or relevant results.” Informational searches are most likely searched by users who would like to gain information regarding something without approaching a specific website or webpage.

The third search query is transactional search queries. Transactional search query where users has the intent to make a purchase of a product. Users will input words like “buy,” purchase,” or “order” with a brand name or generic item searches.

Voice search will be very different from the current SEO techniques because typing will not be necessary anymore, thus changing the way of keywords being used. The amount of time to type is longer than voice search. This is because the accuracy of speech recognition continues to improve. This allows more keywords to be taken in for one search.

Here are the two how-tos to change your current SEO techniques and adapt them for voice search:

1. Long-tailed keywords

long-tailed keywords

Use long-tailed keywords instead of short-tailed keywords. Source: The Money Expert

Long-tailed keywords are longer and very specific keyword phrases which will be likely used by visitors who are closer to the point of purchasing something. For example, I would love to have a “burger” for lunch. My search text would be just “burger. On the other hand, long-tailed keywords would be “delicious barbecue grill burger” as the search text. This in turns will do a very specific search for “delicious barbecue grill burger” and show me results of those restaurants.

Advantages of Long-tailed keywords

Describe your product features/benefits as detailed as possible. Long-tailed keywords works well with voice search because users speak in proper phrases or sentences instead of uttering a single word without a specific purpose.

2. Optimizing keywords to natural speech patterns

natural speech pattern

Make it sound human and not a robot. Source: Slideshare

Humanize your content to which it reflects a conversational tone. Natural phrases and sentences are adopted into your long-tailed keywords. Throwing in some slangs could boost your local SEO strategies or even make your page a little “homey” feeling among your readers depending on their origin.

Advantages of natural speech patterns

You can enhance the search engine experience quicker by helping the search engine to find quick answers to popular questions. Coming up with direct answers to respond to the “who, what, where, why and how” queries means you know someone would ask those kind of questions. Your answer might be rank top and selected to reply their query.


Are you prepared for voice search? Source: Grade Us

In conclusion, voice search is going to change SEO and it’s better to start preparing for it now. Voice search also can open the opportunity for illiterate users to access information on the internet and allowing you to reach a wider range of audiences.

Updated: 12 August 2020

About Philip Gooi

Philip is a newcomer to the world of SEO and inbound marketing. He enjoys reading when it comes to learning about new things.

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