I just want to get this out there: I got super psyched when I found out that Apple will start using Google as its search engine for Siri instead of Bing. As an android user, using voice search on an Apple device with Bing has been a bummer.

This decision is a great move from Apple. Now Apple can provide a consistent search experience to its users across mobile and desktop devices.

According to Google voice search already accounts for 20% of searches and that number is rising. After this move by Apple, you may have to rethink your search strategy – Organic and Paid Search.Starting with the most obvious question.

Is there a difference between how people use voice search versus text-based queries?

The short answer is: yes.

The most significant difference between voice and text search is the length and complexity of search queries.

I found a really insightful presentation on Voice Search that includes many wonderful insights and statistics. One of the being this; An average person can type 40 words per minute, but we can speak 150 words in the same time.

For certain queries search engines might bot be able to deliver relevant results due to the ambiguity of a text-based query.

Only a couple of days ago I was discussing this with one of my clients who operates a large e-commerce websites. For queries such as ‘iphone’ it’s challenging to determine intent without more context. The searcher might be interested in buying a new device, looking for information on one or just looking for an image.

Search algorithms have also become refined and better at processing voice queries. Did you know that Google AI read over 3000 romance novels to improve it’s conversational search abilities?

Voice Search can deliver more relevant results because the queries tend to include more information about searchers intent.

Who is using Voice Search and how are they using it?

According to Global Web Index, Voice Search is particularly popular between 16 – 24 year olds, followed closely by 25 – 34 year olds.

According to a trend report, people in the US cite ability to use search when their hands are occupied and getting faster results as the top reasons for using Voice Search with majority of people using it at home and while driving.

What do we know about how people use voice search?

According an article from Search Engine Land that cited a study by Chitka. The biggest category for voice search is news. Plus voice searches 3 times more likely to be location based than text.

How is this going to impact search marketing?

Optimising for voice search is the next frontier for content optimisation. This is especially critical since Google announced they will split their search index into Mobile and Desktop.

In practice this means that Google will index your mobile site separately from your desktop site. This will further increase the difference between search results for the same query on desktop versus mobile.

How to prepare for voice search?

  • Create and optimise content based on user intent. Think of micro-moments instead of keywords for mobile SEO.
  • Create and optimise content for longer (5 – 7 words) queries. Create content that resembles a question/answer format for voice search.
  • Optimise your mobile website for faster speeds and better user experience.
  • Do not underestimate the role of local SEO.

The age of chasing after keywords and the latest updates to Google’s algorithm is coming to an end. While there are still quirks, such as link building, that impact organic ranking, the biggest wins in the future will come from content created to target specific user intent.

Read more about this update and Apple & Google taking steps to improve user privacy on SearchEngine Land: Siri, Safari and Google Search: What does it mean for marketers?

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash