Voice Search: The Definitive Guide

By Danni White - Last Updated on August 5, 2020
How to Optimize for Voice Search

The year of 2019 has come and gone, and we have just stepped in 2020. This year, the use of voice search is expected to be at an all-time high as more companies and consumers focus on mobility and automation. Many consumers are using voice to search for finding local businesses, making queries, buying decisions and so on.

A lot of large enterprises and small businesses are also using voice as a part of their customer service to improve the experience for their customers. You won’t be surprised at the fact that 65% of the millennials and Gen Z just use voice for any internet query at least once per day. Search by voice isn’t going to stop in the future. 71% of the people with smart devices have said that they would use their voices more for search rather than typing.

Voice search is picking up steam day by day just because the voice assistants have managed to succeed more than 93% of their users.

However, there are still some people who aren’t aware of what it is, its history and the reason why it’s growing quickly and is expected to grow even faster in the future.

Let’s start with what it is.

What Is Voice Search?

Voice-search is basically an approach of advanced technology that uses voice-enabled commands to carry out a search on the internet browser, your phone or on any application. It basically includes an open-domain short keyword query to fetch any information on the internet. Google Voice search, Siri and Alexa are some voice assistants that carry out voice searches.

It is basically a type of dialog system that involves rounds of interaction. You can even clarify the system about your search. This helps you to get more accurate results.

In other words, search by voice is an approach in which the technology uses audio recognition system to understand what the speaker is saying with appropriate precision.

It might sound like a brand-new tech but originally, it has been here for a while. Programs with text-to-speech options are perfect examples of voice search.

Any device that has a dialog system or a voice assistant can be optimized for voice search. However, voice assistants use search by voice capabilities and make your process even easier.

Voice Search History

The voice search tech or voice recognition tech came into existence when Bell laboratories designed the ‘Audrey’ in the year 1952. This device was capable of understanding the small selection of words in the English language. In addition to that, it could even recognize the digits from 0 to 9 with 90% accuracy.

After that, a large computer enterprise, IBM developed ‘The Shoebox’ in the year 1962. This device could understand 16 words of the English Language through the text-to-speech conversion approach.

After 1976, Harpy came into existence. This device, by DARPA, could recognize more than 1000 words of the English Language. At this time, voice recognition was progressing.

TANGORA, a technology was released by IBM that could recognize more than 20,000 spoken words of the English language.

The biggest achievement ever done in this area was by IBM who, in 1996 invented a device, MedSpeak, that could understand continuous speech from the speaker.

In 2002, voice recognition/ text-to-speech became so common that Microsoft even added it to its products.

This era was the rise of Artificial Intelligence, leading to personal voice assistants. Not any later, Google launched a voice search app and Apple company brought it and launched it on every product as a personal voice assistant, Siri.

Why Is Voice Search Growing So Quickly?

Search by voice is growing quickly, and you are not the only one noticing it. We all are embracing this trend and there are reasons for it. There are 3 drivers accountable for its quick success now and in the future as well.

The first reason is that it is 3.7 times faster than typing. The faster you would search, the faster you would have your answers.

Secondly, it is perfect for portable electronic devices like mobile phones, tablets and etc. in fact, 60% of mobile phone users search by voice most of the time.

Thirdly, it is more convenient. It’s better than typing on a keyboard. In short, the use of search by voice is not hyped anymore. It is a trend and it is here to stay. In fact, it has started affecting the SEO rankings on search engines as well.

In fact, it is included in the top 3 digital marketing trends of 2020.

Why Is Voice Search Important?

You might be looking for reasons to see how this trend has become important to most of the people. You might not use it now but look at the below-market statistics. These stats will make you realize how everybody is opting for it and its about time that you should start using it as well:

  • 50% of all the web queries would be search by voice in the year 2020.
  • 50% of people use search by voice on browsers and social media platforms while looking for products.
  • 40% of the adults in the global community use search by voice for regular internet queries.

What Does Voice Search Look Like?

If you type in the Google search bar, you would notice a microphone symbol just inside the bar. By clicking on this symbol, you can actually speak for your query with keywords. But let us explain further through one clear example.

After searching on the Google bar, you would see featured boxes. Google basically calls them as featured snippets.

Whenever you type a question, Google derives an appropriate answer from the articles through the keywords and places it in the snippets.

Featured snippets have three forms. One is just a one-word answer, second is the data set or a list and third is a paragraph. Google usually shows paragraphs and lists just because it’s very difficult to pull specific data out of the data set. This limits the user’s search and makes him unaware of the present data on the internet.

The greatest advantage of featured snippets is that you don’t have to be ranked first to have paragraphs from your website included. If you are among the top 10 positions, you can leapfrog other sites and be on top of them.

Many web experts call this area as the Position Zero.

How Does Voice Search Work?

Voice search working is pretty simple. It just reads the results from the data in the featured snippets pulled out from the articles. So, whenever you ask a question to your voice assistant, it gets you an answer from the information in the featured snippets.

It is pretty beneficial for a business to business companies. Once your website makes it to the featured snippets, its SEO ranking improves as mobile and desktop users are majorly using search by voice now.

There are many benefits of voice search if you have a website such as:

  • Brand visibility/awareness.
  • Increased traffic to the website.
  • Great click-through-rate.

How to Turn on Voice Search?

  • Turning on voice search and using it is pretty simple. If you have an Android tablet or phone, open the Google App.
  • At just the bottom right, you would see ‘More’. Click on it, select ‘settings’ and then Voice.
  • Turn on the voice match so that the assistance can access your microphone.

How to Turn Off Voice Search?

If you want to turn off voice search, do the following steps:

  • Navigate your way to ‘settings’ on Google App.
  • Click on the General tab.
  • Under the option, ‘Personal’, you would find the Input and Language option. Click on it.
  • After that, tap the ‘GOOGLE OK’ detection.
  • Move the slider to the left to turn it off.
  • You have successfully turned off for Android mobile or tablet.

Voice Search Optimization?

Voice search optimization is basically voice-based search engine optimization. It is now playing a major role in the SEO industry and affecting each website’s SEO rankings.

Voice engine optimization is an approach that entails optimizing your services, content, location, website and company information so that you can increase your SEO rankings through the search by voice results.

Search by voice optimization started to erupt in the year 2017. It is now being used for quick answers. It is like SEO but with more competition.

There are only 3 results, unlike traditional searches. So, if you are not among them, you are the last.

How to Optimize for Voice Search?

Search marketing is a broad one and to make the most out of it, optimizing voice search is very important. People are eager to find out about special on-going deals, packages, products, news or any sort of information quickly and luckily, they have found the way to find it. Through search by voice, of course.

Here are some 5 big changes that you might want to take under consideration in order to optimize for voice search:

  • Keyword Research for Voice Search

    The very first thing that you must know is that people speak differently. One might use the word that the other does not. People ask questions differently, especially when it’s verbal. So, you need to brainstorm all the related questions about your business or the product that people might be looking at the answers for.

    There are many tools that might help you in fetching the best brand-related question. Answer the Public is tools that help you create as many questions as you can using a particular keyword.

    People Also Ask is a great Google option that helps you get more question ideas.,

  • Site Structure and Content Development

    You need to be available at every stage of customer support through search by voice. People can ask anything about your company, and you should be able to answer them. Here are some points that you can focus on while developing and curating better content for voice search:

    • Awareness.
    • Evaluation.
    • Interest.
    • Customer Support.
    • Purchase
    • Loyalty.

    Try to organize your brainstormed queries and questions into various categories. This would help you to map your customer journey appropriately.

    The most effective solution to this problem is to add FAQs to every page of your website.

  • Structured Data Optimization

    The key to optimizing is to make your content as relevant as possible to the query. Ensure that Google can crawl easily into your site’s pages. For this, create a website map as soon as possible and submit it to the google console.

    The other thing you can focus on is bots. Use the schema markup approach to help Google bots understand your content in the best way possible.

    Provide relevant information to Google bots about your product, your brand, your location, your contact information and etc.

    You can also convey information on various content, articles, organizations, events seminars, recipes and reviews related to your business.

  • Consider Creating Alexa Skills

    To more your content more accessible to the personal voice assistants, you can design custom Alexa or Google assistant skills. You need to customize your software according to voice assistants so that Google’s actions can be even smoother.

    Make the experience better for voice command users by improving Google actions so that they can have back and forth conversations with your content or application.

  • Mobile-Friendly

    Search engine marketing focuses more on mobile-friendly content and searches rather than desktop-friendly. It is a fact that most of the voice searches come from mobile phones. So, if you optimize for a mobile-friendly search, you are actually optimizing for search by voice.

(Also Read: How to Optimize for Voice Search in 2020)

Voice Search Devices

Here are the top 6 devices:

  1. Google Home.
  2. Amazon Alexa/Echo.
  3. Siri for iPhone.
  4. Google assistant.
  5. Android phones and devices.
  6. Microsoft Cortana.

(Also Read: A Guide to the Best Voice Search Apps for Android)

Voice Search Statistics

Here are some statistics to highlight the importance and its uses in 2020:

  • 22%(1) of the people make purchases directly through search by voice.
  • 17%(2) of the people reorder products through search by voice.
  • 58%(3) of the voice search users use personal voice assistants to fetch information about a local business.
  • If you talk about the retention rate, the caller rate is 28%(4) higher than the web rate.
  • 52%(5) of people have voice-enabled devices in their living rooms.

Voice Search Vs. Web Search

Voice search is completely different from regular Google web searches. Web search basically entails typing your question in the search bar and scrolling through top search engine results. However, voice search entails asking questions verbally by using specific keywords. Modern search engines integrated with voice assistants understand what they are asking for and give them answers from featured snippets pulled from trustworthy websites.

Important Differences of Voice Search You Should Know

Here are the main differences between voice search and text search you should know:

  • Voice Search Users Query Differently

    Not all voice search users talk the same. They can ask questions about their personal voice assistant using different words and sentence structures. They query differently so; they get answers in a completely different way.

    They often expect one-word or one-line answers and that is what voice optimized search engines give them. The voice assistants use Google crawling, featured snippets and keywords to choose the best answer.

  • Location Matters More

    Location highly matters if you are a voice-search user. People usually use casually phrased questions. For instance, if you voice-search, ‘Tell me the best restaurant around here’, your voice assistant would carry out a location-based search and provide you with a relevant answer.

  • Mobile Dominates

    The mobile phone is the most prominent platform for voice search. This is very unlikely when it comes to text search. Text search usually came from desktop and now, a lot of mobile phone users carry out search by voice.

    The website needs to be voice-friendly and mobile-friendly both. If it isn’t, it does not qualify to be featured on the snippets.

  • Uses Natural Language

    When using a voice search for queries, you don’t speak computer language. You speak a natural language or more specifically, human language. This means that search by voice are much longer than text searches.

  • It Uses More Question Words

    Voice search uses more question words such as, ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘how’ and etc.

  • There’s Only One Answer in Voice Search

    In voice search, the voice assistants usually come up with one answer, unlike text search that displays top results.

How Voice Search Impacts You: What Should You Do Today?

It dramatically improves user experience and because of the convenience it delivers, half of the searches in 2020 are going to be voice-based.

Due to its high use, Google and other search engine are now focusing on becoming more and more voice optimized.

Search engine optimization or SEO is very important to the users while searching as the search engines rank them according to the best information available.

What we are trying to say is, SEO has a great impact on voice search. Voice-enabled search is dramatically improving the SEO rankings of websites.

This is how Search by voice impacts you:

  • There are now more natural language queries.
  • More questions are asked instead of text searches.
  • More local searches are being made.
  • People are making action searches more.
  • Here are 5 steps you should follow:
  • Try to make your content more voice-search friendly.
  • Target long-tail keywords as voice searches are long.
  • Target Google’s featured snippets.
  • Optimize for natural language.
  • Use meta and structured data to help search engines understand you better.

Voice Search Technology

Voice search technology is not new. It has been there since Audrey came out. But now, it is on the rise. People are using voice assistants and up till now, 420 million voice assistants have been sold.

This is growing quickly because artificial intelligence integrated with voice search technology is more accurate and quicker than text search.

According to Google, its accuracy has increased to 95%.

To be short, it is an old technology that is gaining popularity with the rise of voice assistants in mobile phones.

Voice Search Tips

Here are some tips that you could follow:

  • Make sure to add filler and question words.
  • Avoid fancy and jargon words and use 9th-grade reading level as most of the voice search result is written below or up to that level.
  • Improve your website speed.
  • Improve your domain authority.
  • The more content you have on the website, the more voice search traffic you are likely to get.
  • Optimize your content Search by voice. Add content that is location-based.
  • Rank your videos in the search engine results.

The Future of Voice Search

As voice technology is one the rise, it will be extremely important for large as well as small businesses to include a good voice search strategy in their digital marketing campaigns.

Along with the improvement in SEO, it is giving an opportunity for businesses to enhance their customer service.

Moreover, It would be a great tool for businesses to increase web traffic and brand awareness.

Frequently Asked Question about Voice Search

Q. How to Install Voice Search?

A. There’s no need to install voice search if you have an Apple or Android smart device. However, you can turn on voice assistance by navigating to settings on the Google app. Just tap on Voice Match to access your voice assistant.

Q. Free Voice Search List?

A. These are the following list

  • Cortana by Microsoft
  • Google Allo
  • AIVC
  • Prometheus Interactive
  • UX Apps
  • Bing
  • Magdalm
  • Hound Voice Search and Assistant
  • Vlingo
  • Bixby

Q. How to Delete Voice Search?

A. To delete voice search, simply uninstall the voice search app. However, for voice assistants in Android and Apple phones, you have to turn off voice search.

Q. Why Is Voice Search Not Working?

A. Your voice search might not be working due to two reasons. First, the internet might not be working and secondly, it might not be turned on.


Investing in voice search for businesses has proved to be gold as it’s proven to increase brand awareness, increase revenue and gain more and more customers.

Despite gaining such popularity, voice search is still on the rise. However, if you make your website voice optimized now, you’d be ahead of the competition.

Danni White | Danni White is the CEO of DW Creative Consulting Agency, a digital marketing firm specializing in elevating the visibility of small-to-midsize businesses and nonprofits. She is the author of 17 books and hosts the #Hashtags and Habits Podcast, which merges digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.

Danni White | Danni White is the CEO of DW Creative Consulting Agency, a digital marketing firm specializing in elevating the visibility of small-to-midsize busi...

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