Hey Alexa, How Do I Optimise For Voice Search?

5 years ago, asking computers a question directly was the stuff of sci-fi. Today, there are 33 million voice-first devices in global circulation[1]. Voice search has the potential to have a huge affect on mobile and local search moving forward. Are you ready?

In this blog we will provide practical insights on how voice search affects user input, who uses voice search and what you can do to your site to optimise for it.

How do I optimise for voice search?

Voice search generates more conversational queries from users. As a result your content should follow suit. Structuring your content in a Q&A format will help you make sure you are providing answers to the questions your users are asking.

You are also going to need to put yourself in the shoes of the searcher and try to think about how people speak. Having framed your content in the right way you will also need to ensure it is easily accessible by optimising your page speed for mobile.

Want to optimise for voice search? Get in touch today.

How does voice search affect user input?

With voice and text being two drastically different methods of input, it stands to reason that users’ searches will change. Below we have listed three key things that change when people search by voice.

  • Searches Get Longer

When users switch to voice search query length increases dramatically[2].

Voice Search Query length

  • People Use Questions in Their Searches

Voice search is generally more query-based instead of a string of keywords. A good example of this would be:

Text search = “Lion King London”

Voice search = “What are the show times for the Lion King in London”

  • More Location-based Searches

Mobile voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than text search[3].

Who uses voice search?

According to research from Comscore, 40% of adults now use Voice search once per day. This figure is expected to rise with an estimated 50% of all searches being performed by voice in 2020.

As you can see from the table below the most frequent users of voice search are aged 18-43, with people aged 44 and upwards using voice search significantly less.

Users of Voice Search

What do people use voice search for?

Check out the stats below from a recent study[4] that breaks down the most common uses of voice search.

adult voice search

As you can see, teens not only use voice search to perform specific tasks normally associated with voice technology (dictation & direction), but also for content discovery. This is something that has traditionally taken place using a screen up until now.

Structured Data Mark Up

Voice search naturally tries to present more information directly in the SERPS through knowledge graphs as Google looks to provide an instant vocal response to your question straightaway as if it is simulating a conversation. This means getting featured on Google’s knowledge graph takes on a whole new level of importance. Correct schema markup is one of the few key ways you can influence the knowledge graph.

Schema is what’s known as a markup language. It allows webmasters and site owners to provide search engines with additional information about the information on their site – think of it like metadata, or data about data.

Schema allows you to more comprehensively “describe” what the data on your website means. This, in turn, makes it much easier for Google to “understand,” which can boost visibility. It’s also one of the most powerful, yet significantly underutilised, SEO practices. By simply implementing schema markup on your site, you’re already putting yourself way ahead of the curve.

Here is an example of how you can use schema markup to optimise for voice search

voice schema markup

Optimise for mobile

We are seeing more and more users turn to mobile for their web browsing, so your site should be mobile responsive already. But if you’re planning to optimise for voice search, optimising for mobile is essential. Google operates a “mobile-first” policy when it comes to mobile search. This means that sites already optimised for mobile are given priority over those who don’t. So before your start optimising for voice search, get optimised for mobile – both in responsiveness and speed.

Optimising for voice search will become more and more important as we move towards a screenless digital experience. While still in its infancy, voice search will become a more important element of search moving forward. If you’re looking to optimise your website for mobile or voice search, get in touch today.





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