General Manager


20 Sep 2019

If 10 years ago you’d told me I’d happily ‘have a conversation’ with an inert device (even it if did have a name) in front of my colleagues as part of my normal working day, I’d never have believed you. From Siri on our mobile to Alexa at home, our ‘ready to listen’ companions are here. “There are over one billion voice searches per month. (January 2018)” estimates Alpine.AI and, According to ComScore, “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020.”

But who’s really using voice to search, how are they using it and, most importantly, how can you best appeal to voice search with your digital marketing and SEO strategy?

Who’s using voice search?

Voice recognition has been part of many devices for a while now, whether free as part of Google or built into your iphone – which, be honest, you probably invested in for many reasons ahead of Siri’s dulcet tones. Digital personal assistants did initially take longer to gain traction but are gaining huge ground now: “The Echo Dot was the best-selling product on all of Amazon in the 2018 holiday season” via Techcrunch.

Despite the fact the majority of users are from the younger generation, where voice is different is that it’s a tech which has gained favour with older people too who a) enjoy the fact they don’t have to fiddle about with weeny keys and a tiny screen, b) aren’t excluded by cost so can invest in an Echo or Google Home c) come from a generation more used to talking interactions.

As Moz highlight in one of the very few studies published on the topic, Thrive Analytics showed a convincing number of people using digital personal assistants.

What have people been using voice for?

As well as using voice for activate calls, send texts, take dictation or help with homework, “Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products.” via Social Media Today. What is a consistent about them how is that voice searches are often question based. ‘Who’, Where’, ‘When’, ‘How’ featuring as common pre-fixes to search queries. This is because we tend to type statements but speak in questions, look at the rise in question search phrases:

We’ve seen a growth in question phrases year over year:

What is more as you’d expect voice searches tend to be longer than their typed counterparts… the average being 2 words for type versus 3 to 4 for voice.

How to appeal to voice search

Despite the huge rise of voice search, it’s still relatively early days in figuring out how best to capture voice related traffic. Given we know that questions are so key to how voice has been used so far it is fair to assume that questions… are the answer, well one of them anyway.

Consider how you can incorporate pertinent questions and answers into your content. FAQ pages are a great solution. Not only will they tap directly in the researching voice query – it’s also good business sense. Do you want more or less calls you your customer service team? Think about your customers’ journey. What do they really need to know to make a buying / conversion decision? A well-thought-out FAQ page which has clear and relevant answers could reduce costs to your business as well as raising its online profile via voice search. Remember though, your customers’ journey may evolve so ensure your content is reviewed and updated regularly to allow for this.

Test your key questions in your keyword list and target those most successful. Voice search can reveal intent in a way typed search queries often don’t. Those people asking ‘Where’ have a much stronger intent than those who are still in the research phase and asking ‘Who’. E.g. ‘Where is Big Group located?’ versus ‘Who is CEO of Big Group’.

Ensure your local listing is completely up to date. This is a quick fix given that mobile voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than text search.

It makes sense to consider the power of your local listing, particularly if your business has physical local presence. If users are asking ‘xxxxxxxxx… near me’ etc, get your business included and make sure your reviews are in good order. Remember, the nature of local listings means your potential customer doesn’t even have to visit the website to act.

The truth is, though, like every new technology, we’re still feeling our way, tech giants like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple are all investing more in voice but it remains to be seen who really uses it and how best to harness it. Like Alexa, Google and Siri keep listening out and if you’d like to understand more about developments in SEO, voice technology or how best to harness voice for your business, Get in touch – we’d be delighted to hear from you.

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