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  • Writer's pictureKamran

SEO for Voice Searches

Voice searches have been increasing since their introduction by Google in 2002, although sometimes their growth stagnated due to various factors such as lack of adoption by users and technological limitations.

But what does this imply? In this article we will see how voice search has begun to interact with other forms of search technologies, and how it fits into the new SEO landscape of 2018.

What is voice search?

Voice searches are speech recognition technologies that allow users to search by uttering words out loud instead of typing them into a search bar. The proliferation of smartphones, and other mobile devices, has sparked interest in voice search.

Voice search applications are used to:

1. Make queries in search engines

2. Ask for specific information, such as the weather or a sporting result

3. Launch programs and / or applications

4. Search for content like audio or video files

5. Voice dialing

What is voice SEO?

The vocal SEO is the fact of optimizing its natural referencing by taking into account the vocal searches and by considering the intention of voice search like a criterion of important positioning. Natural referencing must therefore be based on spoken requests and not only on queries entered on Google.

With voice SEO, it is not a question of using new optimization methods, but of privileging and optimizing requests from the long tail. Indeed, with the rise of voice assistance, users' searches are based on more conversational approaches (longer queries) as well as on the principle of questioning (How, Where, What to do, When, ...) . Remember that Google is no longer a search engine or result but a response engine, and for this, it focuses on the content that best meets the demands of users.

We can ask ourselves a legitimate question: what change will vocal SEO bring to traditional SEO?

Traditional SEO

What would be the changes for the current SEO?

"Ok Google, call mom", "Says Kamran, what's the weather like today?"

Nowadays, we are used to hearing these phrases in the street, at the office and even at home.

With 33 million voice assistants in circulation in 2017, all major technology providers, not just Google, are investing in these virtual assistants. Google has Google Assistant, Apple has Siri, Amazon has Alexa, Microsoft has Cortana, Samsung has their new Bixby, and Yandex has launched Alice - the first voice assistant for the Russian market.

Voice Assistants

These voice assistants have some subtleties in their ways of working:

Google Assistant: As you might expect, it finds results through Google Search. Generally, the answers given will be among the first results of the SERP, be it a featured snippet, a local result or a traditional website. Google Home often reads the answers aloud, but can also send links to the related app on your smartphone or device.

Siri relies on Apple Maps when it comes to local results. Until recently, other queries were processed thanks to Bing's information, but in September 2017, Siri switched to Google. The important thing to remember here is that it is essential that your business is also included in Apple Maps for local searches.

Samsung's Bixby does not have the ability to search for information as its competitors do. Once this feature is added, we will need to determine where this voice wizard will find its source of data.

Alexa is not as good at Google Home when it comes to answering complicated questions. She mainly uses her own knowledge base, but also relies on Bing to answer questions.

Finally, Cortana's information is powered by Microsoft's search engine, Bing. While many users reject Bing (and therefore Cortana), it is always better to regularly check its results on both Google and Bing. Depending on your website and / or niche, a lot of the traffic could come from Bing, and therefore from Cortana.

Although virtual assistants have been around for a few years, this phenomenon is still in its infancy. But their rise in power requires the optimization of voice search on your sites, so that they benefit from an effective and optimal natural referencing right now.

It's hard to say exactly how many queries are based on voice, since unfortunately, Google does not publish this information regularly. We know that the general trend is on the rise, and soon, voice searches will account for the majority of total searches. According to Mary Meeker's Internet Trends report in 2016 , voice searches have increased more than 35 times between 2008 and 2016. According to Location World, over 40% of adults use voice search daily in 2016. Finally, according to one Comscore study, voice searches will account for 50% of total Google searches in 2020.

Why this evolution?

Notably thanks to the increased sophistication of voice recognition systems. For example, Microsoft's software now has an error rate of 5.1% , equal to that of its human counterparts. Digital assistants also facilitate the search process (speed, practicality) by inviting more and more people to use this system. The interconnection between these assistants and other devices also plays an important role in the evolution of their uses. For example, being able to connect your TV or phone to your voice assistant saves time and efficiency for users, who prefer to dictate their needs verbally while continuing their tasks rather than writing them down. As more and more people start using this search method and it becomes more "normal", the percentage of the population using voice search is also increasing.

Towards Only Oral Research?

It is clear that from now on, the questions are no longer typing but are oral, which implies changes in the world of natural referencing.

Since search engines appeared in the mid-1990s , users have learned to succinctly enter key phrases to find information on the Internet using a computer.

Why this Craze for Voice Search?

Because it's much easier to dictate our demands than to type them. Even the fastest of us are slower than they speak. On average, humans speak 150 words per minute while they put the same amount of time to type 40. Unlike keywords that you typically type into your computer during a written query, voice search is more conversational and natural.

It is also generally mobile and often concentrated locally.

For example, when you go to Lyon for a conference, your smartphone knows where you are physically. So, if you happen to search a restaurant, your phone knowing where you are (in Lyon, not Paris for example), the search results for restaurants will automatically all in Lyon.

Local SEO

Internet users do not have the same way to make a request in writing and orally on Google. These are more conversational, for example in oral we will no longer say: "Hairdresser Lyon" but "Where can I find a hairdresser for women in Lyon?". SEO experts will no longer have to place keywords on generic keywords (as is the case today for 90% of market players), but on long-tail keywords.

It is important to remember that the goal of these new technologies is that the device delivers the best results for people on the move. To do this, devices try to find easily identifiable, short and relevant content elements to meet the user. Here are some tips that can help you optimize your site for voice search.

Optimize Voice Search

How to optimize your site for voice search?

People use voice search for different types of searches. With a 22% estimate of search for local content and information , local businesses (and agencies that do local SEO) need to start developing strategies for local voice search.

Write your content for voice search

Write and format your content in the most natural way possible, close to the conversation. Our natural way of speaking is completely different from how we write. Voice searches do not have the same format as queries written on Google.

According to a backlinko study: "Google prefers brief and concise answers for voice search queries. The result of the typical voice search is only 29 words. " This point answers the problem of the user mentioned above: the user wants a quick answer.

In addition, these searches are informational long-form searches and expressions, unlike the more general, generic searches.

Another tip: find the questions of the most wanted users around your keyword. For that, feel free to use tools like AnswerThePublic .

Another advantage to developing short answers: You are more likely to see your content in zero position if the content is short enough.

How to write your content for voice search?

Build your content around questions. Do a search for the questions users ask most about the topic you want to talk about, using tools like AnswerThePublic, and have your content answer that question. You can also click on the "Other questions asked" section on Google, since by clicking on one of the suggested questions, other questions appear. It's a real gold mine for ideas of topics that users are interested in.

How to write content

Structured data

Structured data is the precise characteristics of a site, defined in specific tags. For example for the Allociné site, the structured data will be: "The title of the film", "the author", "the release date", "the director", ...

This is an essential element to provide information to Google. This will help the person identify your content to give relevant answers to voice searches. Structured Data is a standard format that provides information on a page to search engines. It marks all items such as products, services, reviews, etc ...

Structured data is crucial to your site because it defines more specific information and makes it easier for search engines to accurately analyze content and understand its context.

It is important to note that structured data is not exclusive to Google. Indeed, Google, Bing, Yahoo use them all as well as Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms.

Fundamentals of SEO

Despite the different approach of the research, the results of the vocal research are not different from a natural result.

For example, in the case of a search with a specific locality, local referencing is very important to meet the local purchase intention of the users. Make sure that the information on the contact page includes information such as: coordinates, the nearest landmark, business hours.

When it comes to voice searches, it's important to look after your local SEO. Indeed, we have seen the importance of mobile in our societies, and users will have more opportunity to use it on the go, for immediate research (search for a street, a restaurant, a trade, …).

Google My Business

If you have not yet claimed your Google My Business listing, it's time to do it.

Optimize Google My Business is a good way for Google to find more information about your business, such as the business category you're in, your address, your phone number, your business hours, and more. Because many voice searches are local in nature, having your Google My Business listing claimed and updated can increase your chances of appearing when a voice search is done for your business, location, or location. category of business.

Do not "Overoptimize"

It's important to adapt and optimize your content to work seamlessly with the Google Assistant, so an optimization for voice searches will negatively impact the quality of the content. Creating short content only to respond to voice searches is a bad sign of a website for Google. So, adopt a "balanced" approach instead.

An effective way to avoid over-optimization is to create a FAQ page that answers your customers' most frequently asked questions. By creating a FAQ page, or adding a FAQ section under each category of your website, you will help users as well as search engines understand your website.

Try to make the content more conversational to help Google extract information. Anticipate the more direct questions of Internet users. Searches like "best digital camera" will start to disappear, and very specific searches will become more popular. Example: "Alexa, where can I find a waterproof video camera that works with Facebook Live? Provide fast, succinct answers to questions users ask aloud.

This may seem like a long and tedious job, but creating these pages centered on specific semantic questions that people are asking can not only help your site appear in voice search results, but also increase your chances of appearing in position zero.

Avoid Excessive use of Tables or External Links

As we said earlier, your content should be as natural or conversational as possible. Excessive use of tables and the inclusion of external links make it difficult for the Google Assistant to explore and present information. The data in tables or charts would not be understandable in an audible format via the Google Assistant, so Google can not read them. In addition, Google Assistant can not click external links if you insert too many of them on your page.

Optimization for Google's Zero Position

Zero Position

The Google Assistant displays information from your website as an excerpt to position them in the zero position , if it believes that the content is relevant, of high quality and that it responds perfectly to the user's question. The zero position, is the result put forward on the SERP and placed between the natural results and the sponsored links. Promoted by a box, it responds clearly and accurately to the request of the user and is considered by Google as a premium result.

During a voice search, the Google assistant will read this excerpt aloud, hence the importance of reaching this position.

Mobile First Index

Today, 6 in 10 French have a mobile phone, and with the emergence of voice research, the smartphone is even more important in our lives. Mobile search accounts for more than half of all searches and many of these searches are done using a virtual assistant.

What do you do when you try to load a website on your phone and it takes more than a few seconds? Most of us will close it or return to the search results to load another page. This has an impact on your search results as your bounce rate increases (user engagement factor). A high bounce rate and little time spent on a web page tells Google that your web page does not give a relevant answer to the user's query.

In addition, your site will not appear in searches done via voice search if your site is neither mobile responsive nor fast.

Google has already started deploying mobile indexing first and says it only impacts mobile sites. Still, sites that are not mobile first still received a notification from Google Search Console. And do not forget that with mobile first, the speed of the page becomes more and more important.

Not sure if your website is optimized for mobile? Try the Google Mobile Friendly test to see if it's acceptable by the search engine.

Vocal SEO

Content with a high level of social engagement tends to work well in voice searches. This is a simple correlation. Indeed, Google does not use social shares as ranking criteria, however, a content widely shared on social networks, necessarily has a higher percentage of clicks, which significantly increases its reputation with Google.

How to prepare your SEO Strategy for Voice Searches?

Despite the lack of information on voice searches and what they imply, we can already implement SEO strategies.

Know your Audience

As part of your keyword search strategy for voice search, your company needs to know how someone can search for your product or service if they use voice search.

Remember that voice searches are more conversation-oriented and tend to focus on questions rather than two- or three-word queries that are often typed in written queries.

As part of your search, create a list of voice searches that you think will be used by users. Brainstorm with your team. Read social media, look at the forums. Make sure you put yourself in the shoes of your prospects in order to have a relevant search list.

Know your Results

It's great to do voice searches yourself about your brand, products, or services to see if they appear and how they appear.

Most companies do not take the time to search for products or services on a device that uses voice search. But, thanks to the previous step, you have a list of relevant keywords to let you see what your prospects are seeing.

Once you perform this real-time voice query search, if you find that your website is not showing, your web pages and content need to be optimized.

Know your Competition

As part of your SEO strategy, you need to know who is already on your voice search queries. If you are not in first place, identify your competitors, that is, those who are above you on the SERP.

On each key word or phrase, perform a page-by-page analysis of the top 10 rankings. Identifying the content of the results on the first page, can help you build a semantic cocoon for your own content, to do better than your competitors.

In conclusion, if you still do not take voice search seriously, you'd better start considering it. The phenomenon will grow even faster than the arrival of mobiles on the market. Not including voice SEO in your SEO as well as in your marketing plan could prove detrimental in the months and years to come since you will probably lose a lot of traffic in the long run.

Google, Amazon and Apple are the main players in voice search at the time of writing this article and Google and Amazon are clearly the leaders. If you have already used the services of one of these voice search giants, then their potential must be obvious to you.

In addition, you can be sure that social platforms such as Facebook or Twitter will add voice search capabilities in the future.

The only real question is when are you going to have to start thinking about voice SEO as part of your content marketing strategy? And the answer is: now.


For now, no one can say with certainty how much impact voice search will have on SEO. What is certain is the speed at which she is evolving and the impact she is already starting to have on local search and SEO. Another certainty: we will no longer count 10 results on the SERP during a search via a virtual assistant, but only one. You will no longer be competing to be on the first page, but to be the number one on this page.

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