One increasing trend in the search market over the past year or so has been the growth in the volume of searches using voice, either through a standard search device or through a home assistant. So what does this trend mean for search engine optimisation and what actions, if any, should be taken to cater for this market?
A recently quoted figure indicates that one in five mobile searches were made by voice search over the past year, compared to typing a query into the search bar. This may or may not be an accurate figure but it is certainly becoming an increasing trend by searchers, driven by the growth of ‘home assistant’ tools (or ‘smart speakers’) from the likes of Google, Amazon and Apple.
This is therefore a potential section of the search market that needs to be considered with any SEO or paid search campaign, with some limits in terms of targeting and the application of results. However, there can be a difference between a voice search on Google, which displays the standard set of results to the searcher, compared to the home assistant type search, where just one result will be delivered back by voice as well.
With the former type of search there’s very little difference between a spoken voice search and a regular typed search query. The searcher will be taken to a typical search engine results page whether they spoke their query or typed it. However, users searching for directions to a place using a mobile device may see a different set of results than a desktop user searching for the same information, based on their location.
These “near me” searches can be important for local businesses to make sure their My Business listing is set up as well as possible (as covered in a recent blog post). Other than that, general voice search queries often return similar – if not virtually identical – results as typed queries. For some users it’s just a lot easier and more convenient to speak their query rather than type it, and so from an optimisation sense, there is little difference to the approach taken.
Searches on ‘home assistant’ type devices are different, as these typical generate a single result and each tool uses a different system, although of course the Google product bases its responses on their search database. These systems are becoming more sophisticated and will constantly “learn” more about the searcher/s by analysing browsing habits, shopping preferences, and other online behaviour so that tailored, relevant search results are delivered.
Typically the top organic results will get the best chance to be served as a response, particularly information panels or local business listings. Paid ads from Google Ads will get less opportunity to be presented but Google may also serve up increasingly relevant search results to searchers based on a constantly growing volume of data unique to individual users.
Overall, there is very little difference between optimising for standard search and voice search, although the latter systems will become increasingly sophisticated as these are further developer in the future. Ensuring standard SEO practices like making relevant content prominent and indexable within online content will still be important and a good principle to follow or continue for any website content.
If you’d like to know more about voice search results and optimising your content for these, please get in touch.