Voice Search Strategy FAQs

Each month, connected and mobile devices process over a billion voice search queries by U.S. consumers alone and in the space between 2008 and 2016. Google voice search queries increased by 35 times, clearly, voice search has surpassed its critical mass and become ubiquitous.

How can multi-location and enterprise brands incorporate this consumer preference for search using voice commands into your local marketing strategy? Explore this quick reference question-and-answer guide to find out.

What is voice search optimization?

Optimization is the action of making the best or most effective use of a situation or resource. Voice search optimization applies to all of your brand’s content and can improve your ability to rank in search results for voice queries.

Start by adding local and location-based terms to your content strategy. You’ll need to shift to conversational content, which affects every aspect of your content planning and creation from planning conversational formats like How-Tos and FAQ to incorporating a friendly, approachable tone of voice throughout your content.

How popular is it?

More than 40% of US adults use voice search daily and 25% of 16-24-year-olds use voice search on their mobile devices. Further, 95% of mobile users have at least tried out their voice-activated mobile device personal assistants, while about ⅓ use them regularly.

Last year (2017) was a banner year for voice-first devices with 25 million units shipped. This brought the total number in circulation to about 33 million.

What will voice search look like in the future?

Comscore estimates that 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice by 2020, just a few short years from now. In other terms, this translates to an estimated 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020, and a projected $601 million voice recognition industry by 2019.

Pew Internet Research predicts that by 2025, AI technology aided by personal assistants will be integrated into nearly every aspect of our daily lives.

When do people use voice search?

Understanding why people use voice search and what they’re searching for are important first steps in crafting your brand’s voice strategy.

Voice searches conducted on a mobile device are 3 times more likely to have local intent than searches conducted using text. Forty percent of Amazon Echo users listen to music on the device, while ⅓ use it as an information provider, to answer their questions. Almost 50% of people use voice search when researching products to buy, and 42% say voice-activated devices have become “essential” to their lives.

What do voice search users want from brands?

According to Think with Google, voice activated speaker owners would like to receive the following from brands: deals, sales and promos (52%), personalized tips and info (48%), events and activity information (42%), business information such as store location (39%) and customer service support (38%). You can learn more about the 7 types of content brands need to appeal to voice searchers here.

How do voice queries differ from other types?

People tend to use different phrases and terms, using more natural language, when searching by voice as opposed to typing their question into a search box. Voice queries are typically longer, for example, and include more natural-sounding questions or statements.

optimize for voice search queries

How do we optimize for it?

The best way to initially optimize for voice search is to apply traditional local SEO strategies. A well-developed website that has fast download speeds, full meta tag optimization, detailed structured data (schema) and custom hyperlocal content will stand the best chance ranking high organically. Use these 15 Expert Voice Search & Local Content Optimization Tips to get you started.

How does schema markup help us optimize for voice search?

Schema can improve the possibility of achieving a featured snippet in the SERP results. Commonly known as Google Answer Boxes, these often appear in “position zero” above all other content, giving them great visibility.

In addition to that prominent placement for text-based searches, voice search results pull from these featured snippets. Using structured data to optimize your on-page content is critical if you want to be the information provider featured in Google Answer Boxes and subsequently in responses to voice queries.

Does Google rank voice search results differently?

Yes and no. Google doesn’t have a particular algorithm for voice queries but they do hire human voice search raters, who evaluate voice search results based on information satisfaction and speech quality. Remember that just 20% of search volume cover anchor or core search terms. Meanwhile 80% of search volume lies with long-tailed keywords and search phrases. Dig into those longer-tail queries to find your opportunities. Then create content that will appeal to Google, its quality raters, and consumers alike.

What is a good content strategy for Voice Search Optimization?

Voice queries appear often as long tail and structured as a question (e.g. “does this (brand) furniture store offer discounts on labor day”). So one voice optimization strategy is to create a detailed FAQ page about your brands products and services.  Make sure to apply thorough optimization (using H1 tags, schema, etc.) to this detailed FAQ page. This custom content structure also improve the probability of obtaining a Google Answer Box for a user’s question.

How can we make search results more compelling?

Although you want to provide the best information, optimizing for voice search shouldn’t make your content dry or boring. Use strategies like incorporating UGC to keep it light and conversational, while also providing that social validation consumers love to see (and hear!) as they’re making their purchasing decisions. You can learn more about this in our recent POV, 7 Types of Content You Need in a Voice Search World.

What are the risks?

As with traditional search, the greatest risk is that consumers might receive inaccurate or outdated information about your brand and its locations. When this happens, it could mean driving a consumer to the wrong location or a closed store. Even worse: delivering them directly to a competitor.

Google compiles information from a vast number of resources. These include your website, data aggregators, directories, social media networks, review sites and more. Brands must be vigilant in maintaining and optimizing business listings for each location across the local search ecosystem. Learn more about the importance of Local Listings here.

How can we get our voice search strategy off on the right foot?

Your company’s search presence and local listings accuracy make up a critical first step in shifting to a voice-optimized mindset. Determine your greatest challenges and opportunities with a free Local Presence Audit. You’ll receive expert insight for optimizations across your local listings, location rankings, reviews and more. Get started here with our local SEO tools today.