Voice search has been growing at a meteoric rate in recent years.
In fact, recent reports show that nearly 50% of the US population now uses voice search on a daily basis. That’s up from 20% in 2019—a 30% increase in just the last five years alone.
Whether looking for directions in the car, seeking some mid-cooking cooking tips, or simply needing to ask Alexa or another voice search device for the weather, voice search is a convenient partner to match our modern-day, on-the-go lifestyles.
Smart marketers are getting wise to this trend and making voice search marketing part of their digital marketing strategies. To explain the current landscape, this blog will:
- Define voice search & voice search marketing
- Differentiate between voice search and text search
- Explain reasons for increasing the use of voice search
- Show how people use voice search
- Explain how to optimize for voice search marketing
- Lay out other best practices to show up for voice search results
What Is Voice Search?
Voice search is a technology that allows users to perform searches on the internet by speaking into a device instead of typing. Instead of using a keyboard, users can ask questions or give commands to virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant.
Without getting too technical, voice search uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms to understand and interpret the user’s voice commands.
Voice Search vs. Text Search
The main difference between voice search and text search is how users search for information and the intent of the search. Here are some key differences:
- Uses natural language
- Focuses on long-tail keywords and questions
- User intent is often quick answers or to complete tasks
- Tends to be more conversational
- Uses shorter keywords and more to-the-point phrasing
- Provides more options for users to choose from
- User intent is often exploratory or research-based
- Tends to be more formal
What Is Voice Search Marketing?
Voice search marketing optimizes your website and digital content for voice search technology, making both easier to discover and access. Proper voice search SEO means tailoring your content and website structure to match the natural language queries and long-tail keywords people use in voice search.
The goal of voice search marketing is to boost your visibility and ranking in voice search results, driving more traffic and conversions to your website. With the exponential growth of voice search technology and the rise of smart speakers and virtual assistants, voice search marketing allows you to extract value from this nascent technology.
Why Do People Use Voice Search?
Convenience. It’s really that simple. We are suckers for convenience and voice search means that we don’t need to lift a single finger to find what we want. In fact, a PWC survey found that 89% of people find voice search more convenient than text searches.
Beyond the sheer convenience of voice search queries, let’s consider some other important variables that might account for the technology’s growing popularity.
Voice search technology has come a long way in recent years, and it’s now more accurate than ever. This means that users can rely on voice search to provide them with accurate and relevant information quickly.
Voice search benefits people with disabilities (physical, neurological, or learning-based) or those with injuries that make typing difficult or impossible. For visually impaired or blind individuals, voice search eliminates the need to read text on a screen, allowing them to listen to responses instead.
Voice search is much faster than traditional text-based search. That is to say that we talk faster than we type. Users can ask a question and get an answer within seconds. This is especially useful for users who are on the go and need information quickly.
Text searching while driving is downright dangerous. It’s also illegal in many states. With voice search, users can get the information they need without having to take their hands off the wheel or their eyes off the road. By using voice search, users can stay connected without sacrificing their safety or the safety of those around them.
Translation & Communication
With voice search, users can ask questions in their native language and receive answers in the same language—or translated to another language. This can be especially useful for travelers or those living in multilingual communities.
How Do People Use Voice Search?
The world at your fingertips was so yesterday. Today, the world is at your beck and call. While text-based search isn’t going anywhere, the evolution of voice search means information is always just one “Alexa” or “Hey Siri” away. Convenience wins again.
For example, here are some of the most common ways people use voice search:
- Searching for Information: Information seeking includes general questions, weather updates, news, and sports scores. A PwC survey found that 71% of consumers would rather use voice search than physically type a search query.
- Getting Directions: Getting lost is getting harder. Instead of the random passer-by, users now ask their virtual assistant to navigate to a particular address or location. Microsoft found that 65% of people use voice search to ask for directions.
- Shopping: Users can ask their voice assistant to order products or add items to their shopping cart for later. According to Capgemini, 70% of consumers expect to use voice assistants to do things like grocery shopping by 2025.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
Optimizing your content for voice search requires a slightly different approach than traditional search engine optimization (SEO).
Search Engine Journal conducted a survey among SEO professionals to determine the most important emerging factors in SEO. They found that 22.8% of respondents identified voice search as a key factor to watch. This placed voice search as the fifth most popular response to the question.
In theory, many of the ways to optimize for an effective voice search strategy apply to text search as well. That being said, here are some tips to help you optimize content for voice search:
- Use Natural Language
The main difference between voice search and text search is based on how users search. For voice search, most people will use natural language when framing their keywords. They use long-tail keywords and are often question-based. Text search is short, and search engines provide more options for users to choose from.
To optimize for voice search, you need to use natural language and conversational phrases. Use long-tail keywords that match the way people speak, and include common questions and phrases that your target audience is likely to use.
- Answer Frequently Asked Questions
People often use voice search to ask questions. By answering frequently asked questions on your website, you can improve your chances of showing up in voice search results. Identify the questions your target audience is likely to ask and create content that provides a clear and concise answer.
- Optimize for Local Search
Many voice searches are location-based. For example, a user might ask, “Where is the nearest coffee shop?” To optimize for a local SEO search, you need to include your location information on your website and in your content. Make sure your business information is accurate and up-to-date on local directories and review sites.
- Focus on Featured Snippets
A featured snippet is the highlighted result that appears at the top of a search engine results page (SERP) in response to a user’s query. These snippets are particularly important for voice search, as virtual assistants will often read the featured snippet out loud as the answer to a user’s question.
- Use Structured Data
Structured data helps search engines better understand the content on your website. By adding structured data markup to your website, you can improve your chances of showing up in voice search results. This helps virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant better understand the context of your content and provide more accurate search results.
- Improve Site Speed
Site speed is crucial for both voice and text-based search. However, it’s particularly important for voice search, as users expect fast and accurate responses to their queries. To improve your site speed, optimize images, compress files, and reduce page load times.
- Optimize For Mobile
Many voice searches are done on mobile devices. There are dozens of reasons to optimize your site for mobile. Now, you can add voice search optimization to the list. If you need to get your website up to speed, these experts can help.
- Test and Refine Your Strategy
As with any marketing strategy, you need to monitor your analytics to see how voice search is impacting your traffic and adjust your content accordingly. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and continue to provide relevant and valuable content to your audience via voice search.
People love voice search because it’s convenient, accurate, and fast. As this technology keeps improving, voice searches will continue to rise. Those brands that want to stay competitive and connect with more customers need to have a voice marketing strategy in place. Don’t find the trend!
By understanding the differences between voice search and text search, you can create a voice search marketing strategy that meets the needs of this growing user base.
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