Voice Search has been cited amongst 2021 marketing trends. Some time has passed since the start of the year, and we can affirm with certainty that voice search's boom is non destined to settle, indeed.
In this article we explore Google's Voice Search world, an instrument that allows to conduct research on Google using a vocal input. More and more users use it changing their search behaviour. Read more and discover what it means and how you can use it for your website.
Google's voice search evolution
Introduced back in 2011, Voice Search was initially only available for Google.com. In October 2012 it has been added to mobile devices, where voice searching is more popular. Google was interested in its development to have a competitor for Apple's Siri. Voice search from a desktop pc (Chrome) was made possible for the first time in November 2013 with "Google Voice Search Hotword". Other companies like Alexa or Microsoft with Cortana followed the example.
What's behind this search functionality?
What's Voice Search and how does it work?
With Voice Search, searching in Google's search engine is done through voice input, which now works in many languages and on desktop PCs as well as mobile devices.
On desktop, it's necessary to instal an extension in the Chrome browser and activate the microphone. You can start your search clicking on the microphone symbol in the search field. On smartphone the search functionality works through the Google Search application. The function is activated by the OK Google keyword - what you say afterwards is used like a search query. This feature is also used for vocal assistants like Alexa, Siri and others.
How does the voice search work? Here are the various steps:
1. The microphone collects the sound of your spoken language which is then converted in a text string.
2. The text is divided in meaningful words and phrases.
3. The grammatical structure of these words and phrases are then analysed.
4. Depending on the context, the words are connected with their meaning (semantic analysis), for example to determine whether the word "bank" refers to a financial institution or an office of a bank.
5. The last step is to discover what you want to achieve with the request (pragmatic analysis). Is it a question that requires an answer? Are you searching for tips? Are you searching for products?
What are the advantages of voice search?
A simple reason that makes voice search so attractive for many users is its convenience. Typing search terms or phrases can be tedious, especially on the move on a smartphone screen. Saying a sentence, on the other hand, is done quickly - even with your hands full or while driving. And the answer to the question can also be listened, so it's not even necessary checking the display.
A second important reason is accessibility. The convenience of searching through voice recognition makes life even easier if you have problems in typing terms or watching a display.
How does voice search influence searching behaviour?
Voice search is different from the classic search on Google. When typing we tend to use less words to reduce the typing effort. With voice search, on the other hand, there's a tendency towards whole questions and sentences.
This suggests that long-tail searches (searches using whole sentences or phrases instead of a few words) will continue to increase in the future.
An example of a written search vs voice search:
Written search: Japanese course Milan
Voice Search: Which Japanese language courses are there in Milan?
Voice search is increasingly used for search queries with mobile devices - especially among young users (another sign that voice search will continue to gain importance in the future). That is why it makes sense to also include these developments in search engine optimisation.
Ricerca vocale e SEO: ottimizzare il proprio sito web
When it comes to voice search in the context of SEO, two other trends come into play: local and personal search results.
- Local search results. Slightly different search results are displayed depending on the location of the user (e.g. when searching for clubs, shops, doctors, etc.). These searches are often performed via voice search especially when on the move.
- Personal search results. Criteria that can be determined by voice analysis are included in the search results. For instance, when searching for trousers, women's or men's trousers are displayed in the results depending on the voice.
Semantic search plays an important role not only in classical search, but also in voice search. The goal is to be able to recognise the intention behind a search. To stay with the example just given: Does the user want to buy a pair of trousers? Does he want to know how to clean them? Does he/she want tips on how to recycle old trousers?
Voice search and homepage
The use of voice search is constantly increasing, especially when searching via mobile devices such as smartphones. A large proportion of these searches are for complete sentences or questions. For your homepage, this means that it must provide answers.
This means that you should think about what questions users and potential customers might ask about your products or topics related to your products. You can answer these questions on your website - clearly and easily understood. The advantage: this content will also be good for your website ranking - not only in terms of voice search.
We have put together some tips on how to optimise your website for voice search.
So how can you optimise your homepage for voice search?
- Optimise your content so that it answers questions.
- Use questions in headlines.
- If there are questions that your customers or stakeholders continually ask, create a FAQ page on your website where you address them. This question-answer structure is very relevant for voice search.
- Use long-tail keywords. This has the added advantage that these are used less at the moment and are therefore even easier to classify here.
- Voice search is used to save time. This makes the loading time of your website even more important (especially for mobile search).
- Observe the tips and rules for search engine optimisation and carry out local SEO optimisations.
- Build on featured snippets. These are results that are shown in position 0 in the search results. This content is output as an answer box that is read aloud during voice output.
- Use structured data: This shows the search engine what type of content it is and thus identifies it as suitable for voice search. Particularly suitable for this are the FAQ schema, definitions of technical terms and Local SEO data such as your address, telephone number, opening hours, etc.
- If you have not already done so: optimise your site for mobile use (keyword: Mobile First Index).
Voice search makes it even more important to pay attention to the wishes and preferences of users and potential customers when creating and optimising websites, especially in the case of content. What are they looking for? Why are they searching for certain things? What search result do they expect? What is needed to satisfy them with a result/answer?
The use of voice search will most likely continue to grow - in the United States, for example, it is already more common; in Italy, many young people are already using this function, an indication that voice search will also become established here.
Would you like to optimise your website but don't know where to start? Read our article on SEO Audit and discover our optimisation services here.