Voice Search is Changing the Tone of SEO

Voice search, although originally introduced in 2002 by Google (yup, over 15 years ago!), has been gaining increased popularity, primarily due to the installation of AI assistants like Siri and Alexa on smartphone and smart speakers in homes. So what does that mean for SEO?

Google has predicted that by 2020, around 50% of search queries will be voice searches.

It’s a no-brainer that Google will continue to integrate voice search capabilities into its search engine, making it an increasingly more important feature in their algorithm, consequently ranking websites applying voice search knowledge to their SEO more favourably. With roughly 20% of searches in the USA being made using the Googles Android search function, who can blame them?

Voice search works in a very similar way to typed, keyword search. The voice command is fetched from the user, recognised and interpreted then converted into text, this text forms the keyword input and the search engine’s output is equivalent to that which you’d expect from a typed query. Just like standard SEO practises there are a range of techniques you can implement to help ensure your website will be best positioned for any relevant searches.


  • Think local – People, your consumers, are always looking for ways to make things more efficient and waste less time, hence why they are using voice search (because typing takes such a long time we know…) thus they want the upmost relevancy in their search queries, for you that means getting to grips with local terminology.


  • Go Conversational – Instead of the ‘to the point’ typed search phrases seen in typed queries, people are speaking to their phones/IOT devices like they would a person so you should phrase your content in a natural manner, answering queries based on the five w’s (plus the H!), that’s who, what, where, when, why and how. It’s also important to understand diction and how different words may be pronounced. Whilst Siri, Cortana and other search assistants are very good at understanding and identifying these different dictions it may be useful to look and analyse the data that search engines have from voice recognition tools to establish whether terms you’re targeted are being affected.


  • Aim for the Answer Box – Although we spoke about being conversational in nature, people want answers quickly. For exact and definitive answers to search queries try concisely answering questions within the first few sentences of your content and using easy-to-read lists and micro data mark-up to help appear in the answer box at the top of search results (the emboldened search result that is found as the first result of a search when looking at the answer of an exact query). It’s also worth noting that digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri, and Cortana retrieve their voice search results from these answer boxes.


  • Build Then Build Again – Instead of creating a whole host of new, voice-search friendly content for your website, look at your pre-existing content, with a few finishing touches you’ll be on your way to being voice search friendly in no time.


For larger sites, it’s definitely worth contacting an SEO agency to see how they can help you optimise for search, and keep your website future-proofed for changes to the Google algorithm, and advances in search technology.