Voice search has been in the mainstream media since Apple’s 2011 launch of their voice assistant Siri for the iPhone 4. Then, in 2015, Amazon announced the Amazon Echo and it, along with their voice assistant Alexa, became the name (or voice) for mainstream smart home devices.
Bit by bit, over the years, the voice search market has only grown bigger into the everyday lives of consumers. The growth in voice search, as you probably know, has led to a lot of opportunities for brands to connect with their users. This is incredibly relevant in eCommerce as 40% of smart-speaker users have used voice search to shop on their device in the last month or so.
Before we move on to why you should care about voice search for your company, let’s cover some basics about the technology and how it works.
What Is Voice Search?
To put it simply, voice search is searching the internet using your voice. It’s fairly self-explanatory.
But, for the official definition of voice search (from Google) is:
“The action of using your speech to ask questions or to give a command to a compatible device. These devices can be smartphones, tablets or smart speakers. You can speak to your device and the device will fulfil your command or answer the question you have given it.”
You can ask your smart devices to:
- Search the internet
- Make bookings online
- Set a timer
- Play music
- Turn lights on and off
- Read you the news
- Pretty much anything at this stage.
For the purpose of this blog post however, we are going to be focusing on question-based voice searches. This is what you should be focusing on when optimising your website for voice search.
How Does Voice Search Work?
Without getting too bogged down in the technical nooks and crannies of how voice search and digital voice assistants work, here’s a short guide on how they are able to do what they do:
- Process and transcribe human speech into text.
- Analyse the text so it can detect questions or commands.
- Connect to an external source of data like a search engine to locate the relevant information.
- Translate the information into a format the user can understand and use.
Voice search is obviously a lot more complex than what we’ve written. A lot of machine-learning goes into voice search as well as some beautiful algorithms and sophisticated pieces of code. These programs are always improving so they can better understand the natural language and true searcher intention.
Who Are The Major Players In The Voice Search Market?
The major smart speakers in the voice search market at this moment in time are:
- Amazon Echo
- Google Home
However, the majority of voice searches actually occur on mobile phones and not on smart speakers. When it comes to smartphone assistants the two main competitors on the market are:
- Apple (Siri)
Where Do Voice Assistants Get Their Information?
Voice assistants and smart speakers both take their information from multiple data sources. These sources can include search engines, Wikipedia and other major websites.
If you want to be able to optimise your content for voice search then it’s a good idea to understand where the various voice assistants source their information from.
Alexa gets its information from a number of various websites including:
- Independent websites
And, if a user decides to use one of the Alexa Skills, Alexa will purposely take data that is sourced from a database that is linked to that Skill.
As you might have guessed, Google gets its information from Google Search and its library of millions upon trillions of web pages.
Because Google uses its own index of pages your content will be able to be discovered via voice search if it’s discoverable by Google Search. So, if you think your website is lacking in its search rankings, then you might want to start investing in some decent SEO.
Siri also pulls most of its data from Google Search. It used to rely on Bing but switched to Google late in 2017. For local businesses, Siri relies heavily on Apple Maps data which in turn relies on review information from Yelp.
How Can You Optimise Your Website for Voice Search?
When optimising your website for voice search there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Focusing on long-tail keywords is key to optimising voice search for your website. Users will be typically asking for something a lot more specific than they would be with a basic text search.
Using keywords is necessary for a successful SEO strategy with or without a voice search. So, if you use keywords wisely and pack your content with useful and relevant information then your customers will be able to find you.
Remember, there isn’t any point in stuffing your content full of primary keywords just to get noticed. This will just get you in trouble with Google and make your site difficult to find (and painful for visitors to read).
Optimising your website for voice search doesn’t have to be difficult and one of the most important ways to do it is to incorporate natural language into your content.
Users of voice search will basically be having a relaxed conversation with their personal assistant device and your content should try fit in with this.
For example, let’s say you own a pet store, a common query might be; “Hey, Google what’s the best pet food for my dog?”
Using this query you can write your content around it and use a title like “What’s the best food for my dog?” This will answer the question perfectly and give you a better chance of being the first response to a voice search.
When you’re optimising for voice search you need to keep the user’s intent in mind. When people search for something on Google they aren’t actually planning on buying it (well, not straight away) however, when we think about voice search, people are probably already planning on making a purchase.
Understanding the intent of a user’s search is crucial when creating content for your website as it will help you answer the users’ search queries directly.
You can also use AI (Artificial intelligence) to track what type of queries people are searching for which allows you to help cater responses for your target audience.
Do you think your site is voice search ready?
If not, you better let us take a look at it.