Learn How to Optimize for Voice Search NOW: More than Half of Queries will be Voice Search Queries by 2020

By 2020, there will be 200 billion voice search queries per month and more than half of searches will come from voice search, according to comScore research. Digital marketers need to invest in strategies that target voice searchers. Read on to get tips on optimizing for voice search with perspectives from a search agency (with Bing’s Purna Virji), a publisher (The SEM Post’s Jennifer Slegg), and an SEO (Elite SEM’s Tony Edward).

From left: Tony Edwards, Purna Virji, and Jennifer Slegg

Bing’s Purna Virji on the Evolution of Voice Search

Purna Virji, the senior training manager at Microsoft, talked about how voice search is shaping our world. Everything from television remotes to hotel rooms can be powered by voice. By 2017, all Ford vehicles will come with Apple CarPlay.

Reasons People Use Voice Search

Slide of mobile use statistics

Jennifer Slegg on Content for the Voice Search Generation

Like Virji, the founder and editor of The SEM Post, Jennifer Slegg, believes the time to optimize for voice search is now.

Consider the fact that more than half of U.S. teens and 41% of adults use voice search on a daily basis, or that there are 30 times more action queries on voice search.

How Feature Snippets Work with Voice Search

Voice search has a higher percentage of featured snippets. Slegg says 43.3% for voice queries have featured snippets, compared to 40.6% for text queries.

Moreover, Google reads the featured snippets aloud to users beginning with “According to (site)” or “We found this information on (site).” Google reinforces your brand in voice search. (Learn how to earn featured snippets in 2016.)

Use Moz and SEMRush to track your own and your competitors’ featured snippets.

RankBrain and Voice Search

  • Stronger influence on 15% of search queries Google has never seen before, and they tend to be voice searches.
  • You’re able to better rank conversational search queries with keywords.
  • It’s the third most important ranking signal, behind content and links.

How do you optimize for RankBrain? By optimizing for conversational search.

How to Optimize for Voice Search

Voice search queries are longer than text search queries. The average query length for voice is 4.2 words, and the average query length for text is 3.2 words.

Long-tail queries are less competitive and have higher intent. While they’re searched for less, they’re more likely to convert.

Use your content to answer questions. There is a 61% growth in queries starting with who, what, where and how. Furthermore, almost 10% of voice search queries start with who, what, when, where, why, how – as opposed to only 3.7% of text queries. “How” begins 3.6% of all voice search queries and “What” begins 3.5% of all voice search queries.

Tony Edward on How Humans Speak

Tony Edward, the senior SEO manager at Elite SEM, reminded digital marketers that optimizing for voice search begins with standard SEO best practices.

  • Build in-depth content that answers commonly asked questions around your brand, services, products, etc., including content that answers who, what, when, where, why, and how.
  • Leverage Structured Data Markup depending on the content type.
  • Work to get your brand in the Knowledge Graph.
  • Ensure content is structured well using headers and bulleted or numbered lists.

Edward shared his tips on coming up with content strategy:

  • Mine call center, live chat and email data to find commonly asked questions surrounding your product, service or brand.
  • Use third-party tools to get auto search suggestion topics, such as AnswerThePublic.com or UberSuggest.io.

By implementing the above best practices and creating useful content, Edward has been able to earn branded Knowledge Graphs and Featured Snippets. As noted earlier, getting a branded Knowledge Graph entry or Featured Snippet makes your result more voice search ready.


Want to learn more about Voice Search Optimization?
See our How to Optimize for Voice Search post for powerful tips!

Bruce Clay, Inc. is a global digital marketing agency specializing in SEO services, SEM PPC, content development and social media marketing. Looking for a partner to grow your online business presence? Let’s talk.

Kristi Kellogg is a journalist, news hound, professional copywriter, and social (media) butterfly. Currently, she is a senior SEO content writer for Conde Nast. Her articles appear in newspapers, magazines, across the Internet and in books such as "Content Marketing Strategies for Professionals" and "The Media Relations Guidebook." Formerly, she was the social media editor at Bruce Clay Inc.

See Kristi's author page for links to connect on social media.

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17 Replies to “Learn How to Optimize for Voice Search NOW: More than Half of Queries will be Voice Search Queries by 2020”

Thank you for sharing this most needed solution. Appreciate your research on this blog.

I will agree with you, seems like long tail will be crucial. It was really great post you have shared with us. Thank you!

Watching what I can do hands free in my car while I’m driving is mind blowing. Calling, texting, searching only with voice commands. Definitely this post can help so many people to get better idea how to optimize for voice search.

Thank you for sharing this article… I learned new things today. I have questions. Can google really read voice searches?

For future digital marketing its been the biggest changes as now we used to types, but as per research in future voice search will be going to take place, so we need to prepare from now. Great post, thanks

It was really great post you have shared with us. Thanks for this. I am very new in SEO. Keep sharing these type of content with us :)

Mean from now on bloggers have to work on optimization of their blog with voice search. But what about the people who don’t understand English or speak English..

Paula Allen

Nawazish: Super question. Voice search is not limited to English, but increasingly works in languages globally. Bloggers don’t need to worry about changing if they’re writing in the language of their audience.

Thank you for sharing this article… I learned new things today. I have questions. Can google really read voice searches?

Paula Allen

Mark: The digital search assistants can understand speech better and better all the time. And Google leads the pack; just look at the promos for their Google Home product for examples. (By the way, we’ve just posted an opinion piece about how Google Home will impact SEO here: http://www.bruceclay.com/blog/optimize-for-google-home-seo-voice-search/)

Thank you for putting these excellent tips into language that we all can understand. Sounds like Google Now, Siri and their counterparts will continue to evolve and we as marketers must evolve with them too. Voice searches are definitely on the rise these days & it would be good idea to be at the forefront of this new technology by learning their mechanism.

This is very interesting. Optimizing a voice search keywords will take a long process but once it’s done, it will be more convenient than typing.

I will agree with you. Really it gonna happen in the upcoming years. Many webmasters should concentrate on it. Many people don’t know about it and they gonna miss all the search traffic from the Voice search. This article might help many people i would like to share this on my Fb wall. So many webmaster may know about it.

Seems like long tail will be crucial, must be good for me but let’s see if it will be so.

Completely agree with you that RankBrain update will play the major part when we will have to optimize sites for voice search. Though I would also like to hear about if hummingbird update will have anything to do about voice search?

After seeing statics given above. I am worrying about SEO. I guess we should be well prepared for voice search SEO.

Thanks Krishti for this post and i am sure it will be more popular before 2020.

Interesting that it seems like long tail will be crucial


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