What does the increase of Voice Search mean for your Mobile and Search Engine Optimisation strategy (SEO)? What is happening with keywords and longtail keywords? How many people use voice search?

A study from Northstar Research revealed that by late 2014, 55% of US teens and 41% of US adults used Google Voice Search at least once a day. That number doubled between 2013 and 2014, so if there was a new study coming out tomorrow I would expect a massive rise in those numbers. Having said that, a Moz article from May 2016 mentioned that Google’s Director of Conversational Search said that they have seen voice search growing much faster than text search in 2016, which confirms my assumption of how important voice search is!

Do you remember Knight Rider? Back then I was fascinated by how K.I.T.T. could be controlled via voice and had such a gigantic knowledge base so he could answer even the most obscure question. I wanted a car like that too, even though I was far too young to drive. Anyway, fact is, this vision is nearly a reality now. Thanks to software such as Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Now, Smartphones can almost completely be controlled by voice command and new features are added nearly every day.

This works because these functions have all more or less defined commands which do not differ on different devices. This kind of voice control is quite simple and has already existed with various telephone support hotlines for years (“If you would like to place an order, please press 1”).

However, it gets really complicated if there are no such orders: welcome to 21st century Voice Search. It´s not a new singing talent show; it’s the attempt from Google & Co. to teach a software “natural language” as well as get it to interpret the intent of the search and provide adequate results.

SEO is – especially for our MoreNiche affiliates – one of the most important ways to generate traffic. So how can Voice Search can affect your SEO?

Voice Search is up to 95% longtail

Consider first of all, a few general facts about voice search and how it differs from other searches :

  • Most queries are significantly longer than with text search. These searches are regarded as Longtail.
  • Many queries begin with W  – Where, What, When, Who etc. which are classified as more natural whilst we often use only 1 or 2 words with text search.
  • When using Voice Search we often have specific questions “What is Google´s Algorithm Secret?” or “How To Write Successful Copy?”.
  • Voice Search is happening almost exclusively on mobile devices.
  • It´s important to know that not every typo is one as some terms are difficult for the software to understand and for the user some terms are difficult to pronounce.
  • Natural language reveals intent more clearly.

Based on these facts there are some interesting insights about Voice search, independent of website or product:

  • Voice queries are on average twice as long as text search
  • Bear in mind that “question words – how, where, why etc. are important
  • Landing pages that answer a specific question in detail can rank well very quickly
  • Localized landing pages are extremely important
  • Could there be a difference in writing and pronouncing brand names or foreign products? Yes – hence it’s important to take possible problems (“typos”) into account and target those too.

Let’s put some of those findings into practice.

Answering Questions

Above I mentioned that W-words are most often used with Voice Search. They usually begin with:

  • Who is…
  • What is a…
  • Why is…
  • How do I…
  • How much is…
  • When was…
  • Where can I find…

The practical thing about these questions is that you know already how far the user has come in the decision making process.

What / Who / Why is…  is often only based on general interest and does not necessarily showcase the intention to buy something or visit a specific place.
How do you / does… goes a step further and allows you to reply to a specific question in detail.
When is …  are search queries looking for frequent holidays or major events.
Where can I find / get… goes closely towards a purchase intent. Often, people will add place names which affects local SEO (“Where can I buy in (country, city)?”).

Due to the fact that one user has not just a general interest, but also provides us an idea of which point he is at in the customer journey, deals can be adapted to websites in great detail, so this is definitely something every affiliate should take into account.

Local Search
Local SEO and Voice Search

You can assume that someone who makes a search including a place name from their mobile device, is most of the time already nearby or lives in the country and is ready to purchase whatever he is after. This opens up new possibilities in terms of targeting. For instance, you can use various standalone pages specifically devoted to one of the queries above and create a funnel linking to an eventual sales page.

Is keyword research and optimization still necessary now we have Voice Search?

Of course. It’s still very important to know the keywords for which your websites and pages rank for. On one hand it helps you to understand how search engines interpret your pages and how well they think you perform in terms of quality when it comes to those particular keywords. On the other hand, keyword research ensures that you are still ranking for relevant keywords and lets you know how search queries are changing around the chosen subject.

However, just the presence of a keyword phrase on your page won’t get you ranking high anymore. Nowadays, you need to think of different ways someone might make an inquiry. Which brings us back to voice search. Your page has to provide the best possible content related to a search query made via text or voice search.

Keywords still need to be in your content but what counts more than ever is relevant content and uniqueness. When you add your content ask yourself:

  • What question do I want my page to answer for visitors?
  • Does my page offer complete information?
  • Is my page ready for mobile search? And is my content easy to read?
  • Is my page relevant and good enough, so my visitors stick with the page?
  • Can a visitor scan my page and know immediately what the page is about?

Bottom line

Voice Search is changing the world of digital marketing for the better. Today, the user reigns more power than ever, so you have to deliver something unique and relevant and optimise for user behaviour above everything else.

The increase in Voice Search sets new challenges for affiliates but also offers new ways to reach users.

I think that especially detailed answers to specific questions offers small websites opportunities to rank high up in the SERP’s and be a step ahead of the game compared to big players.

To all our affiliates: Get on it and create more rich website content and structure it in a way that delivers explicit answers to search queries relevant for text search and voice search users. By doing that, I have no doubt that you will benefit and be well prepared for the future of search!