In a world where almost any answer can be found by asking “Alexa it” or “Google it”, the meaning of SEO and online searching take on a new meaning.

Amazon’s new strategy, (which includes hardware development of 16 new devices), means that more and more options are available for voice search.
According to Voicebot.ai report ComScore’s predictions: “50% of all search would be by voice in 2020” has become a myth. However, a quarter of a trillion annual voice searches is a number that should command every brand’s attention.

Why Should Brands Think About Voice Search?

To better understand those using voice search, it is worth considering what makes them reach for this solution more and more often. Several benefits have been confirmed by statistics:

  • Voice search can provide custom results.
  • It saves time.
  • It can increase search efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Reduces advertising mess.

The results of research conducted in 2017 by HigherVisibility found some interesting information. Their first mandate was to isolate the main reasons for using Voice Search.

  • Over 29% of respondents believed that it was easier than searching for answers in a text.
  • 22% used voice search because they could not use the textual option.
  • 34% of participants said they mostly search by voice while driving.
  • Another 21% said they used it when they were busy with another activity.
  • Over 37% said it is faster than using mobile browsers. Most smartphones now have a built-in voice assistant.

I am not surprised by the result that over 37% said that it is faster than using mobile browsers. After all, most users have a built-in voice assistant for their phones.

Interface Differences Between Voice SEO and Voice Assistant SEO

There is a belief that optimizing for voice search is very similar to optimizing for text-based search. When we think about voice search, it is important to recognize that the whole search experience and results will often differ based on the interface.

According to the Voicebot.ai report— the voice interface inside of the search box on the web, or the Google mobile app, will deliver results differently from a smart display, smartphone, and smart speaker. Voice assistant based searches are particularly important to evaluate because they use different algorithms.

Nowadays, searches conducted through voice assistants usually finish up in Google’s or Bing’s knowledge graphs or hit one of the common knowledge databases such as Wikipedia, Yelp or Yext.

Wikipedia Accuracy in Voice Search

The number one resource for third-party knowledge used by voice search across all of the voice assistants is Wikipedia (Voicebot.ai 2019, Voice Search Report). Brands need to make sure the first sentence or two of their Wikipedia entry reflects their brand appropriately.

In the newest voice search report launched by Voicebot.ai, there’s a summary of the test: How many questions could be answered, if the voice assistant’s NLP could interpret it properly?

The study focused on asking the voice assistants a series of questions about ten consumer brands in twenty different product categories.

The questions were:

  • ”What is [BRAND]?”
  • “How do I contact [BRAND]?”
  • “Where can I buy [BRAND]?”

Below you can find the key findings of this test. Results for proper voice assistant search were from Wikipedia:

  • Google Home: 99.4% of the time (172 out of 173 answered successfully).
  • Google Assistant (phone): 98.8% of the time (169 out of 171 answered successfully).
  • Amazon Echo: 99.2% of the time (122 out of 123 answered successfully).
  • Apple HomePod: 99.3% of the time (161 out of 162 answered successfully).
  • Samsung Bixby (phone): 87.6% of the time (141 out of 161 answered successfully).

According to those results, it is worthwhile to put some thought into the first sentence of a brand’s description on Wikipedia.

SEO: How to Optimize for Voice Search?

It is important to understand that voice search tends to be more natural and conversational. Due to the less formal, spontaneous nature of voice search, they also tend to be longer than text-based queries.

This means there are some useful modifications to typical SEO activities:

  1. Use simple sentences, short paragraphs, and bold headers to ‘break up’ your content as much as possible.

  2. Read the official guides to voice search for each major platform (Google, Siri commands, Cortana).

  3. Target long-tail keywords, it means thinking about how consumers will ask about your product.

  4. Try to gather common questions on the same page, and group them into FAQ pages.

  5. Streamline your microdata such as price, directions to your physical location, store hours, address and phone number and then help Google to understand them.

When it comes to optimizing your content for voice search, it’s also important to remember that digital assistant devices only deliver one search result per request.- Christi Olson, Head of Evangelism for Search, Microsoft

PASO — Personal Assistant Search Optimization

The future of SEO in relation to voice technologies has lead to the development of — PASO — Personal Assistant Search Optimization. PASO was introduced at the beginning of 2017 in response to the growing popularity of virtual personal assistants.

When asking their assistant for information, most people ask in the form of a question. Therefore, the company’s website content should answer a primary question. Another issue is a way of thinking about how people would say things aloud as opposed to typing. And finally, think about which questions they would ask if they have an intent to purchase.

The advantages of PASO include providing customized results, delivering required information in a much more timely fashion and reducing distracting advertising.

Is There A Place For Voice Search In Branding Strategy?

There are several points on the customer journey where effective use of voice search could make a difference.

It can help to streamline the search for contact information, brand description, and price and personalization options. It’s worthwhile to keep in mind that every voice-first strategy should start with a simple experiments that will help familiarize customers with a voice interface.


Note: This article was published with a support of [Voice Tech Global](https://medium.com/voice-tech-global/how-does-voice-search-impact-seo-rankings-38f9b2597152 and edited by Aimee Reynolds.