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  • Posted on 10 March 2016

The Power of Voice: Are You Ready for Voice Search?

Use speech instead of type! Every second, smartphone users operate their devices via voice.

This was revealed in a recent study by the digital association Bitkom. Voice search is particularly popular among young mobile phone users; it’s already used by 58% of users in the age group 14- 29.

Below, you can learn how Voice Search will impact Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and how you can be prepared.

What is Voice Search?

Simply put, most voice search technologies use a combination of Natural Language Processing and Text-to-Speech, in order to understand a user’s request when using voice to enter a query into a search engine, as opposed to a keyboard. The answer to the query is pulled from the website that the search engine deems most suited for the answer. The answer is then returned to the user directly without presenting a list of search results.  The type of search queries entered by voice, range from cooking tips and recipes, geographical directions, shopping and fact finding, to entertainment such as songs and videos.

When do people use voice search?

People use voice search regularly and the frequency in which it’s being used, continues to increase. However, most research suggests that search queries regarding local amenities are highly represented amongst voice searches. A local search query is usually something that returns results which are geographically close to the searcher. Example queries could be “Where is the nearest Italian Restaurant” or “How can I get to the closest train station”. This means that, even though there’s an increase in voice searches across the board, those performing voice searches are often on the go. They need information now and they plan to act on it within the very near future.

For local voice searches it is therefore generally fair to conclude that the searcher is in the lower part of the purchase funnel, and is intending to pull the trigger on booking a restaurant table, grabbing lunch, going into to a bookstore or acting on whatever they’re searching for.


 Voice-Search-Teaser-Final (1)

Example: searching for NetBooster Paris through Google Voice Search.


How will Voice Search impact SEO?

The rapidly increasing use of spoken search queries rather than written search queries has already begun impacting the search engine optimisation landscape. With it comes a more ‘natural’, conversational way of formulating search queries. This often entails using more words than you would when writing a search query. Search phrases are thus becoming increasingly long-tail, something that needs to be reflected when planning, creating and hosting website content. Also, local searches are often more direct. For example, search queries like “where can I find X”, “What is the fastest route to Y” are less dependent on context to be understood correctly by voice search assistants like Siri,Google Voice Search, Cortana and Amazon Echo.

Example of Google Voice Search.

Amazon Echo Super Bowl Advertisement 2016

That’s why, until voice search technology becomes more advanced, it is expected to have the largest impact on local SEO. In the longer perspective however, we can expect search queries in general to become longer and longer and increasingly resemble natural conversations rather than keywords. We are also expecting to see more rich website content being created and structured in a way to deliver explicit answers to search queries that are formulated as questions.

What’s the difference between keywords and conversations?

We all know there’s a difference between written and spoken language. The same way there are huge differences in how people formulate search queries depending on whether they write them or say them. For instance, if I were to use voice search technology to research ways to adapt my SEO to voice search, I would most likely formulate my query along the lines of “How do I do voice search SEO?” or “What are the best practices for adapting SEO to voice search?”. 

However, if I were to conduct the same searches using a keyboard, I would probably write something shorter like “Voice search SEO” or simply “Voice Search”. That is because I am using a “learned” search engine behaviour that stems from how search engine algorithms have worked in the past. That is matching words and phrases to website content without worrying too much about the actual meaning of those words and phrases nor the intent behind actually performing the searches.

To younger generations, as well as those of us not so young anymore, it will start to make less and less sense to use search engines the “keyword” way and more sense to use them the conversational way.
This is estimated to move search towards a more “natural” style of dialogue rather than simply writing keywords in a search box. 

What about factors such as pauses, emphasis, intonation and other contextual clues?

These factors are of course very important in defining the context of oral dialogue. To fully include them when determining which search results are the most relevant to a particular query, Google and the other search engines, still have some work to do. How these factors will impact SEO and how to optimize for them is an issue that we hope to return to in the future.


 About NetBooster Group | www.netbooster.com

NetBooster is a leading independent European agency in digital performance marketing that makes its comprehensive expertise of digital marketing available to its clients to achieve the best possible performance for their investments. The agency invests in technology and covers the entire chain of online marketing through its European network: search engine optimisation and marketing, data and analytics (DnA), GroundControl Technology, display, affiliation, online media, creation, eCRM and social networks, with a recognised expertise in tomorrow’s digital marketing (Social Media, Video, Ad Exchange, etc.).  Shares in NetBooster are traded on the NYSE Alternext Paris.

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Posted by NetBooster (Group)