The Rise of Voice Search & How it Affects Website Optimisation

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Think about your most recent online searches. Were you using your computer, did you ask your phone for help while you were driving or walking down the street, or did you use a smart-home voice control device?

Google initially launched voice search in 2012, but it’s really taken off in the past couple of years, especially with the release of personal assistants like Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Echo, and Google Home. In fact, ComScore suggests that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice searches. (This sounds a little high to me.)

For local businesses, voice search has grown exponentially. Google has reported a 900% increase in “near me / today” searches in the past two years – and they also found that searchers are three times more likely to use voice than text searches to find local businesses and ask for local directions.

Why the increase? For one, it’s easier and faster to ask for help out loud rather than typing a search term or request, especially when you’re on the go with mobile devices. You can ask your smartphone a question or get help no matter where you are.

So how does the rise in voice search affect marketing?

In short, if you’re offering products or services for sale directly to consumers (B2C), you need to consider how potential customers will use voice search to find you. While ALL businesses need to think about voice search, it’s critical for local retailers in particular because Google tracks users’ locations and offers results near them when they’re looking for lunch, a haircut, coffee, etc.

Tips on optimising for voice search 

With all that in mind, here are four tips for optimising your website content for voice search:

  1. Answer questions in your keyword phrases – Unlike text searches, when people type in a few words like ‘buy garden gloves,’ voice searchers tend to use complete, long-tail phrases and questions such as, “Where can I buy gardening gloves near me?” or “How much do gardening gloves cost?” Therefore, when deciding which keywords or phrases you want to include, think about what questions your potential customers have and how you can answer questions and solve problems within this context.
  2. Location, location, location – If you’re a local business, think about what major landmarks you’re near and which neighbourhood or district you’re in. These may be useful in helping people find you. Got a salon right near the University of Adelaide campus? Own a café near Victoria Square or in Parkside? Consider adding these terms to your meta descriptions or on your home page, contact page or FAQ page in order to help Google and local searchers find you.
  3. Check your Analytics and Ads results – Another good tip is to check your Google Analytics and Google Ads results. See which keywords or phrases searchers are using to find you. Unfortunately, Google Analytics won’t show you all the keywords used by searchers, but you can still get an idea of what’s bringing people to your site. Look at the search terms for help in crafting your content.
  4. Claim your Google My Business (GMB) listing – If you haven’t already set up a Google My Business listing, now is the time. In voice searches for local businesses, Google shows GMB listings first in response to enquiries. In fact, searchers may never get to your website at all, but if they see your phone number, hours, and address on a Google map (as well as some positive Google reviews), they’re much more likely to call or stop by.

Need help optimising your website or improving your content? Contact Breathe Marketing today.



Anna Nixon-Smith

All stories by: Anna Nixon-Smith