The concept of searching online has been around for decades now, with billions of connected people around the globe adept at getting online and hunting for information, goods, services and other pieces of information on the internet.
To date, the most prominent method to search has been to type a search term or keyword into Google.
Text search has formed the basis for a great proportion of digital marketing and SEO too – ensuring that site content and digital marketing campaigns lock into as many relevant keywords and phrases as possible has been the golden key for digital marketers, but things are changing, and changing fast.
As with mobile person-to-person communication where sending voice notes instead of typing long messages has become exponentially more popular as Smartphones dominate the market, searching online is following a similar trend.
Covid-19 – as with many other technology accelerations – made people both more aware of touchless technologies such as voice-activated assistants, helping online users become more comfortable and adept at describing what it is they needed. Additionally, in-home devices such as Amazon Echo (with its Alexa smart assistant) and phone-based assistants such as Apple’s Siri have made voice search more accessible and easy to activate whilst performing other activities such as driving, cooking in the kitchen, doing housework or simply relaxing in one’s lounge or bedroom.
As people become more familiar with both the function of the technology and its accessibility, Voice Search is fast becoming a way that people conduct all searches, including on search engines such as Google. In the USA, a recent report revealed that over 60% of online users used the voice-activated search function on their smart speaker, phone, home appliance or laptop in 2020.
In the UK it’s a similar pattern – voice search using smart speakers, for example, grew from 37% in 2020 to over 43% in 2021. Within this statistic, the number of people making use of voice-activated search daily (as opposed to once or twice a week) increased from 25% to 37% – a trend that continues to rise sharply as more and more consumers invest in multiple devices with voice-activated capability.
What does this mean for digital business and marketers?
Simply put, it means that you cannot ignore the trend or assume that your business doesn’t need to be optimised for voice search. Here is a quick stat attack to help convince you how important optimising for voice search is…
- 46% – how many UK consumers who regularly use voice search to find local businesses
- 85% – the number of people in the UK using voice search weekly (with around half using it daily)
- 76% – the number of people who have voice-activation capable devices in the UK
- 63% – the number of smart speaker users who use their device at least once a day
- 71% – the number of UK voice search users who search for general questions every day
What do you need to do?
HubSpot’s voice search optimisation best practice list suggests the following:
- Target questions and other long-tail key phrases.
- Use conversational language in your content.
- Prioritise local SEO.
- Try to capture Google featured snippets.
- Use schema markup.
- Optimise for mobile.
- Keep your site fast.
And actually, these are pretty similar tips for good SEO for text search too, so if you’re up to speed there, you’re pretty well placed.
Take into consideration the following:
- People using voice search will use more detailed, longer and more descriptive language to ask a question – does your site answer those questions comprehensively, including long-tail keywords? Test your answers by asking the who, what, why, how, when questions that replicate online users – if you’re answering those well, you’re in the ballpark.
- Voice searches are conversational, and your content should answer those questions, in the same way, using authentic, conversational language as you would if someone asked you a question in the real world.
- The predominant search is for local businesses, services and goods so make sure you’re well-optimised for your catchment area. Additionally, make sure your Google Business Profile is up to date – it’s oftentimes one of the results that pop up for a voice search.
- Try to capture Google featured snippets, as voice assistants will often default to these as answers to questions.
- And then make sure all your other Google ‘good books’ markers are in place:
- Be optimised for mobile
- Make sure your SEO is accurate and up to date
- Check your Schema Markup and make sure it’s up to date
- Make sure your page speed is good across all devices