Everything you need to know about voice search and what it means for your website

23 March 2021

Firstly, what is voice search?

Voice search is the action of using conversational speech to ask questions, give commands and also make transactions via compatible devices such as smart speakers (Alexa, Google Home) or smartphones (Siri, Google).

How does voice search work?

Voice search has the capability to process and transcribe human speech into text, sort of like the dictation feature on your iPhone. The digital voice assistant then analyses the text to detect the intent. Once complete, the digital voice assistant then connects to external data sources such as search engines like Google to find the relevant information. Finally, the digital voice assistant translates the information into a more digestible and user-friendly delivery to fulfil the user’s initial intent.

For example: Try asking your voice search on your phone or home device “How do I make pancakes?”

The device recognises that you want the ingredients or method, connects to a data source such as BBC Good Food, and then delivers the information back to you in a way you can understand.

Voice search is definitely a lot more complex than this process, but on a very high level, this is how it works.

So, who holds the market share in voice search?

According to a study completed by Comscore, more than half of smartphone users will engage with using voice search at least once per day.

So, who really owns the market share?

Well, it’s no surprise that Google and Amazon account for 94% of the overall voice search market according to Strategy Analytics, with the Google Assistant now available on more than 400 million devices.

How do you optimise for voice search?

With the monumental growth in voice search, it’s imperative that you’re creating content that’s optimised for voice search users. By not considering voice search, you will ultimately find it very difficult to gain organic traffic in the long run. Voice search is the easier and most convenient search form for a user as it requires no typing and it’s accurate and fast, and this should be capitalised upon. Here are some areas to consider when optimising for voice search:

Keyword research for voice search

  • You should target question keywords. Voice search queries heavily revolve around question words, such as who, what, where, when, how.
  • Consider more long-tail keywords as these complete questions.
  • Include “filler words” within your keyword research as these make the query more conversational and human, which is the whole point in voice search! Some examples of filler words include of, I, on the, of the, for, to.

Optimise for rich results

SEMrush Voice search study found that 70% of all answers returned from voice searches occupied a SERP feature (with 60% of those returning a Featured Snippet Result). A SERP feature is any result on a Google search engine results page that is not a traditional organic result. The most common SERP Features are Rich Snippets that add a visual layer to an existing result.

Restructure your content

As voice search is more conversational than traditionally search, you’ll need to analyse your content’s structure. You should aim to include concise questions and answers to improve the layout and make your content more voice search-friendly.

According to Backlinko’s study, Google prefers short, concise answers and the SEMRush voice search study for Google Assistant found that the text length of answers returned was around 41 words on average.

Top tip: Always include frequently-asked questions (FAQs) on your blogs and pages and keep your answers short and sweet.

Use conversational language

This is a primary characteristic for a voice search query. If you want to appear for voice search results, you must include conversational language and reduce the more robotic language that is being used.

A great way to introduce conversational language is to follow these steps:

  • What questions are people asking? Use a tool such as Answer The Public to find this out.
  • What’s the conversation style within your industry/specific topic area?
  • What types of questions are being asked the most? I.e., what, who, how.
  • What answers are most appropriate for these questions? I.e., short and sweet, bullet point list etc.
  • Who and what is performing well already?

Some other areas to consider are:

  • Improving the load time of your site – look to compress images and videos, use “async” to reduce JavaScript parsing, minify style sheets and reduce the number of plugins and redirects you use. You should also ensure that there’s no duplicate schema across your site.
  • Mobile-first – ensure that your mobile site is responsive and load time is low. Also, ensure that it’s 100% crawlable.
  • Make use of your Google My Business listing for “near me” searches.

So, do you think you’re ready? Utilise the tools above to test and try some voice search optimisations on your website.

Or maybe you’re already engaging in voice search? If so, get in touch and let us know what has worked for you in the past.

If you’d like to find out more about how Wagada can help you with voice search optimisation, then get in touch with our team today.