[Google Voice Search] What it is, how it affects your SEO, and 4 keys to making the most of it


Let’s start with some important information:

The majority of Google searches will be done by voice in the near future.

In fact, we’re already seeing that trend. I bet you use Voice Search yourself, like when you’re in the car and need to find a parking lot fast. What do you do? Would you roll down your window and ask whoever happened to be there the way you use to back in the day?

No, of course not. You ask your phone and it tells you where to park. It’s that simple.
But that’s not all.
The growing importance of voice search has triggered changes to SEO, so you need to familiarize yourself and learn how to use it to your advantage. And that’s why today’s post is going to tell you:

  • What we mean by voice search (and its connection to SEO).
  • How to use it to your advantage to capture more organic traffic.

Get ready to take notes. 😉

What is Google Voice Search?

Let’s start at the beginning.
For as long as you can remember, you’ve used Google to search for stuff by typing in your browser’s search bar, right?
Then, Google analyzes the information and tracks down the most relevant results for your search before showing them to you.
We’re all familiar with this procedure.
In essence, voice search is the same as traditional search. The only difference is how you communicate with the search engine and how you tell it what you want.
Voice search is a technology that allows us to search the Internet by orally interacting with our smartphone, tablet, PC, or smart speaker.
We need a virtual assistant to establish communication. Nowadays, most devices have one, the most prominent of which are:

  • Siri: launched in 2011, it was the first virtual assistant to be integrated into (Apple) a smartphone. Even though there were assistants that dealt with simple tasks (like voice dialing or transcription), Siri was able to handle complex queries.
  • Cortana: Microsoft’s bet in the field of virtual assistants, which seems to be falling behind, as it’s to be removed from Android and iOS (although it’ll still be available in Windows 10).
  • Google Assistant: the assistant on every Android smartphone or Google Home device (smart speakers). Among other functionalities, you can install it at home to automate household chores.
  • Alexa: Amazon has broken into the field of virtual assistants and seems to be overtaking the others thanks to Alexa and its line of smart speakers, Echo.

In short, we’re integrating voice search into our lives. It’s changing (and will continue to change) the way we communicate with our devices and how we access information.

✅ Why it’s important to understand this change and make the most of it 

Some years ago, voice recognition technologies seemed like something for the distant future. However, they’ve now been fully adopted and are expected to undergo incredible development over the next few years.
Here come some figures: 42% of Internet users used voice search at least once in the first four months of 2019. 
That’s nearly half.
Also, 32% did so with their smartphones, which is by far the most widely used device. Why is that? Because this search method is: 

  • Simple
  • Convenient
  • Fast
  • Efficient

Voice search is growing exponentially year after year. It’s a trend to keep an eye on because it’s bound to change user search routines.

Why should you include voice search in your SEO strategy?

As we’ve said before, the number of voice searches is growing every day.
They’re expected to make up half of all Internet searches very soon. And you simply can’t stand by and watch because even if you’ve been optimizing your website’s SEO for some time now, voice search works a bit differently. 
Check this out.
After typing your search, Google shows you the 10 most relevant results on the first page.
Your SEO objective is to position your keyword to be in those first 10 – the higher up, the better. In any case, being on that list of organic results is a good result and gives you more chances to increase traffic to your shop
What about voice search? Imagine you’re walking or driving and want to search for something.

You can’t stop to analyze those ten results, so the assistant simplifies it for you and gives you just one.

Do you understand what that means?
There’s only one winner; all the others lose. This is a game changer. You should aim to be the first result and you must adjust your SEO strategy to do it.

✅ Featured Snippets (aka Position Zero)

Google places a featured result over the organic ones.
That and only that result is the one Google thinks best suits the user’s search intent and it is shown in the first position. That result is the Featured Snippet.
It’s placed first and on top of the rest of the results without moving them (that’s why it’s also known as “Position Zero”). It takes the prize and hogs all the clicks.

This is also the result that a voice assistant will provide you with.

Can you see how Google narrows it down to a single result?
I bet you’re wondering what you can do to earn that coveted spot and get all the clicks, but that’s a different issue. What’s important is that you’re now fully aware of the need to adjust your SEO strategy for voice search.

4 keys to a better voice search ranking

Falling behind is not an option, so the sooner you start optimizing for a better position in voice searches, the better.
Here are a few ideas to get you started.

✅ 1. Search intent and the importance of long tails

First of all, don’t forget that when we speak to a virtual assistant, we do it like it’s a natural “conversation”.
That is, we speak colloquially and with short sentences. It’s a relaxed way of communicating. For example:
Perhaps you would type, “Italian restaurant downtown Madrid” in the search engine.
But you’d ask your voice assistant something more like, “Where can I eat pizza nearby?
In fact, most searches are basic questions starting with:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • How

Why are we telling you all this? Because you need to know what the most popular questions among your sector’s users or clients are.
That’s why you should pay attention to keywords and even more so to long tails.
 “Normal” long tails are longer keywords, but in our case, long tails become “long key sentences” that sound much more natural in a conversation. On top of that, they give you clues to the user’s search intent.
When a user types the keyword “chocolate muffins”, we don’t get much information about their search intent. What is it they want to know exactly?
On the other hand, long tails do give some clues as to the search intent:

  • Where to buy chocolate muffins around here?
  • What are chocolate muffins?
  • Easy chocolate muffin recipe.
  • How many calories does a chocolate muffin contain?

And they’re phrased using the same kind of conversational language used in voice searches.
Therefore, your SEO strategy for voice search has to thoroughly analyze the user’s search intent and keep an eye on long tails to integrate them.

✅ 2. Optimize your content

We’ve already said that voice search users typically ask a lot of simple questions using natural language.
Well, then you should also aim to have your content (written following these SEO rules) answer those questions in a simple way using natural language. You’ll make things easier for Google and it’ll “read” you better.
Improving your FAQs is always a good idea. This page is ideal when it comes to answering all those “W” questions.
It’s also a good place to include all the long tails that address the user’s search intent.

✅ 3. Pay attention to your local SEO

A lot of voice searches happen on the fly while we’re walking down the street, driving, doing some shopping at the supermarket, etc.
On top of that, many of them have to do with local searches. The search results take the user’s location into account by using the “near me” button. 
That creates a great opportunity for small businesses. Here are two tips to improve your local SEO:

  • Create your business card on Google My Business: It’s aimed at local businesses and it lets you can interact with your customers. It facilitates searches on Google and Google Maps because it presents all the information about your business on the same site.
  • Enhance the information about your location as part of your complete on-page strategy: Include keywords with local references that might be of some use to someone that’s around at that particular moment. For example: “near the Cathedral”, or “next to the football stadium”.

If you own a physical business, you should use these tricks.

✅ 4. Your website’s loading speed

We all know that the loading speed of your website or e-commerce is a decisive factor for SEO.
But you must also bear this in mind when it comes to voice searches: 
Google prefers websites with faster loading speeds.
Take a look at this study analyzing the results of voice searches on Google:

  • The average load time of a website is 8.80 seconds.
  • Results for Google Voice Search are loaded in 4.60 seconds on average.

Loading time is an important ranking parameter, so optimizing your website to make it as fast as possible should be one of your priorities.

Are you ready to use Google Voice Search to improve your SEO?

You’ve just seen what voice search is and how important it is to adjust your SEO strategy to seize the opportunities it provides you, especially to find new clients for your e-commerce shop in local searches.
If you put an intelligent strategy into practice, you can gain some ground. We recommend that you read the following article on SEO for ecommerce for more info.
Search by voice is a great business opportunity and you should make the most of it. 😉