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Is ‘voice’ the future of search?

What’s the future for online search? Well, if you believe the findings of ComScore in an article published by Campaign, the world’s leading business media, advertising and marketing brand, then the future is voice. ComScore believes that by the year 2020, half of all internet searches will be voice searches. So, if you’re heavily into your SEO remember you heard it here: factor voice search into your SEO strategy right away or be left behind.

Why is voice search proving to be so popular? Well, there are a number of reasons really. Firstly, typing on mobile and handheld devices has proved to be a bit on the cumbersome and error-strewn side, secondly, personal assistant devices are now far more accessible and lastly, language processing has become far more sophisticated of late – hence the growth in voice-command devices like Echo, Cortana and Siri.

But how does the growth in voice search affect SEO? Well, the world has become increasingly mobile-orientated to account for the huge growth in mobile devices. Search engines have reflected this growth and now place greater and greater emphasis on mobile search. Keywords have also changed in the meantime. Using traditional search engines users learned to express themselves succinctly whilst searching for products and services. However, with the growth in long-tail keywords those finite parameters changed.

Now with voice activated search, users are looking for answers speedily and conveniently. Unfortunately, traditional search isn’t able to deliver this: even semantic search struggles to deliver this intimacy and immediacy when it comes to delivering search results quickly. Because search engines powering voice based search utilise the latest machine-based learning and combine all the latest AI technologies, they can analyse all the available data and geolocation signals, and combine these with your own data, using this as a signal of intent. What this means is that voice search not only understands what you are, what you’re doing and where you are, but it can then use this information contextually, delivering results based on your previous patterns of behaviour and preferences.

So what does this mean for SEO? Well, in a nutshell it means that search will have to adapt. Marketing strategies will need to change in order to be able to provide predictive answers across all formats from text search to voice search.

So what can do to harness the power of voice search?

  • Write content in a more natural, conversational manner to provide answers to customer queries. With the advent of voice search, traditional keywords are no longer as valuable. What matters more is semantic search and context.
  • Make greater use of long-tail keywords and optimise these for natural language enquiries. Group related long-tail keywords together in longer form blog posts and guides which target related queries.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing. Use semantic terminology and natural synonyms rather than using the same keywords over and over again.
  • Create a user-friendly FAQs page to provide answers to the most frequently asked questions about your products, services and brand.

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