Voice search optimisation

The Last Hurdle

1st June 2019


The Last Hurdle

VOICE Search Optimisation is the term used to describe the activity of ensuring that when a digital assistant like Siri, Amazon's Alexa or Google Home is used to search the internet, your website details are returned in the results. Voice search is growing, fast!

Typing in a few search terms has become part and parcel of our everyday lives. According to SEO Tribunal, there are 5.6 billion search queries carried out per day on Google. By 2020 it is estimated 50 per cent of all searches will be voice.

Voice Search is faster

Digital assistants have changed the way we search. It's much easier and faster to pick up your phone and ask Siri a question, or call out to Alexa and Google Home, than type a search on a keyboard. The average person types about 40 words per minute, however, the average word per minute whilst talking is around 150 words. Voice search is much more convenient.

What is the difference between voice and typed search?

When typing into a search engine we all now know we don't need to use whole sentences to get to our desired search result, keyboard generated searches tend to be three to four words.

With voice, the searches are more 'natural', people search in the style they normally communicate. The differences between the two can be seen in this example:

Typed search term: "Italian Restaurant Northampton"

Voice search: "Where is an Italian Restaurant in Northampton?"

Voice search tends to be question orientated. If you think about the reason why we make a search, regardless of how, it is generally orchestrated to find out information we don't already have. With voice search we are dealing with a different medium and the AI that drives it is a lot more nuanced.

Businesses and marketers need to optimise their websites not only for standard searches but for voice-controlled devices. And that means putting together a whole new range of keyword combinations.

Build your new voice keyword list

The first thing you need to look at is your current keyword successes, reviewing Google Analytics and Search Console will give you this data. What are you already being found for? Now think about how these terms could be communicated verbally. These are usually going to be much longer keyword combinations and most likely in question form.

Use a service like Wordtracker's Scout App which will give you list of high-performing keywords you can add to your list - all you have to do is pick out the ones that appear most likely to be from voice searches.

Another option is to keep an eye on Google's autocomplete for manual searches to further build a list of terms. You can add in modifiers or words that will often be used in voice searches. These include what, when, how, does and will. You can also use a simple tool like Answer the Public for more insight into the best keyword combinations for your website.

Remove negative keywords

By the time you have completed all this, you should have a lot of keyword combinations to choose from. As with normal keyword research, some of these might be negative. These are the keywords that you don't really want to be associated with your brand and, at this stage, you should be filtering them out.

Measuring performance

Once you have your list of voice optimising keywords, the next step is to place them on your website and see how they perform. As voice search terms tend to be questions, creating blog articles that ask and answer these questions is one of the most obvious voice search optimisation techniques. Alternatively, consider adding an FAQ page which once again answers the most relevant questions.

Analysing the results from this activity can take some time but it should give you a clear idea of which keyword string combinations work and which don't. You can use the top performing words and phrases to come up with similar combinations to further improve engagement.