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Voice search: Definition and SEO impact

Voice search is booming and revolutionising search engine optimisation (SEO). With the rise of voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa, more and more users are opting for voice search to find information.

This trend is having a significant impact on website SEO strategies. But why and how is voice search disrupting SEO?

We’ll explore in detail why voice search is having a real impact on SEO and how you can adapt your strategy to stay competitive through digital.

What optimisation strategies should be adopted?

From an SEO point of view, voice search has a major impact on the way users carry out their searches and on the results they obtain.

  • Focus on the long tail: Searches made up of just a few keywords are not going to disappear, but they will represent only a small proportion of total searches in the future.
  • The mark-up schema: The mark-up schema helps search engines to understand the context of your content, enabling you to rank higher in both traditional searches and specific queries made via voice search.
  • Optimize microdata: Microdata is used both by search engine spiders to understand content and by users who frequently search for this type of information.
  • Creating a FAQ: Internet users generally start their questions with “Who”, “What”, “When”, etc. This way you can anticipate their questions and kill two birds with one stone by offering them answers in a conversational tone to match voice search.
  • Identify keywords using voice queries: keyword research tools such as Rank Tracker can identify the queries typed by Internet users. As you can see, the future of search is conversational. You need to keep up with these changes in user behaviour and adapt your SEO strategy accordingly.

According to Behshad Behzadi, an engineer at Google Zurich, voice search is the fastest-growing type of search. 55% of teenagers and 41% of adults use it on a daily basis, and these percentages have been rising steadily in recent months (according to a study carried out in the United States). Voice search has a number of undeniable advantages over written search: it’s faster, it allows multi-tasking, and it’s considered trendy!

The reliability of voice search also continues to improve. The transcription error rate is less than 8%, compared with a rate that was still as high as 20% in 2015. According to Behshad, conversational search is the future. Not just voice recognition, but an understanding system capable of responding to sentences spoken in a natural way. Google aims to transform voice search into “the ultimate mobile assistant”.

Very few people write the way they speak in a traditional search engine. When we speak, we tend to ask the following question: “What’s the weather like in Paris?

What can voice search do?

In 2017, voice search is able to understand and/or respond to a number of situations:

What was misspelled

Ask Google’s voice assistant to present you with a photo of Wales (WALES in English), and you will be presented with an illustration of whales. You then have to spell out the letters one by one to finally see an image of the British country.

What has been said or researched previously

Do the following voice search: “Where is the Golden Gate Bridge?” and then say “I want to see its photos” and “Who built it?” Google is now able to identify additional searches based on your initial search.

If the tool can’t give you an answer straight away, you can contextualise your query. You probably won’t get an answer to the following question: “How high is Mont Blanc?”, but on the other hand, if you start by asking “What are the mountains in France?” and then go on to ask “How high is Mont Blanc?”, you’ll get your answers.


If you’re in a convention centre in Paris and you ask “How far is the airport from the convention centre”, Google will understand that “the convention centre” corresponds to your current location in the capital.

Context defined by the information exchanged in an application

If you’re discussing a specific restaurant in an application like Viber, you can ask Google to “Show me the map”. It will understand which establishment you are referring to.

Context defined by what you see on your smartphone

Are you on the Michael Jackson Wikipedia page? Use the voice search “Show me photos of Michael” to see illustrations of the legendary singer.

Context based on you

Ask Ok Google “What’s my work address?” and you’ll see your work address appear without having to clarify the “my”.

There are also signs that the dominant search engine is working on purchases made using voice search. For example: “I want to order a cheese pizza from Pizza Hut”.

Featured snippets are one of the consequences of this development. We’re going to have to get used to writing high value-added content in a conversational tone. We also need to take into account the different expectations of users. Internet users expect quick answers, while those who enter keywords in writing can put up with several searches. All these developments have consequences for natural search engine optimisation.

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