What’s the Difference Between Voice Search and Regular Search?

Girl using voice search with headphones.

What’s the Difference Between Voice Search and Regular Search?

The way people make a voice search is different than regular Google searches. After all, humans talk differently when speaking versus typing. Instead of having to choose specific keywords, users can just ask normal questions. Modern search engines understand what they’re looking for and give them answers from trustworthy web pages.

It’s important for online marketers to understand how this new technology works because it’s growing in popularity. There are roughly 1 billion voice searches each month. By 2020 it’s predicted that, 50% of all online searches will be voice searches. To take advantage of this huge potential audience, SEO professionals have to use new marketing strategies.

There are a lot of devices with artificial-intelligence capabilities:

  • Smartphones
  • Smart speakers
  • Digital home assistants
  • Smart appliances
  • Tablets
  • Smart TVs

The goal of Google Home, Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana is to make you feel like you’re having a normal conversation with a human being. Staying up to date with modern search engines means changing the way you create content.

 

Why Voice Search Is So Popular?

Over 70% of people have used voice search at least once. Why is it so popular? For one thing, it’s convenient. With voice, people can drive and make hands-free phone calls and internet searches at the same time. Moms and dads on the way home from work can look for “the best Mexican restaurants near me” and grab something quick for supper.

Another reason this style of searching is popular is the freedom it gives. Instead of sitting in front of a computer to look at web pages, you can multitask. For example, if you want to make homemade pizza, you can look for a recipe online while taking ingredients out of the fridge. Just put your tablet on the kitchen counter and watch how-to videos for pizza dough as you measure the ingredients.

The more popular mobile devices become, the more people use voice searches. Many smartphone users prefer voice searches to typing because they’re faster and easier. Over 80% of Americans own a smartphone, so businesses have a powerful incentive to optimize websites for mobile and voice search. Compared to traditional SEO marketing, there are five differences with voice searches you need to remember.

 

1. Voice Searches Use Questions

Most people use questions when making a voice search. They may ask about store hours, directions or specific products. Forget about searching for short phrases such as “black cocktail dresses.” Instead, women may ask Siri “What are the most popular black dresses for an informal party?” or “What should I wear to a black-tie event?”

Consumers want to know who, what, when, where, why and how on many different topics. This changes the type of keywords you need to use. With a traditional web search, homeowners may type “how to install bathroom door.” In voice searches, this topic turns into the question “How do I install a bathroom door?”

Great SEO means building content around questions. For example, a piece about laptops would probably include several questions: “What is the best laptop in 2019?” and “What are the best gaming laptops?”

 

2. Local SEO Is a Huge Part of Voice Searches

Over 50% of American consumers use voice searches to find out information about local companies. They ask about directions, phone numbers, products and store locations in other cities. In fact, drivers may be on their way to your store while they’re searching!

Questions using the words “near me” are very popular with mobile users. For example, homeowners needing help with a project may ask “Who is the best general contractor near me?” People who are on vacation may want to know “Are there any Chick-fil-A restaurants near me?” During their morning commute, office workers may search for “Where can I get chai tea near me?”

This emphasis on location-based keywords means that your business benefits from local SEO. You want to give search engines location information about your company in every piece of content. When customers search for “the best dentist near me,” good local SEO helps you appear.

3. People Speak Naturally When Talking to Siri and Alexa

A big difference between traditional searches and voice searches is the way keywords appear. With normal Google searches, users focus on short keywords such as “spring fashion ideas” or “men’s dress shoes.” However, voice searches use a language style that is more natural.

Instead of typing “LED light bulbs advantages,” people using voice search may ask “What are the pros and cons of LED light bulbs?” or “What are the best LED light bulbs for a Toyota Camry?” The same thing applies to restaurant searches. Regular searches would use a stiff phrase such as “NYC restaurant near me,” but voice search is more flexible. Users may say “Alexa, what are some great restaurants in New York?”

To appeal to your audience, you need to use a writing style that matches their search queries. It’s OK to include regular keywords, but you should also add questions that sound natural for voice search. Try to write how a real person would talk, not like a robot.

 

4. Long Tail Keywords Are Everything

There is a major difference in the length of search terms when it comes to voice search. Traditional keyword searches may use only two or three words, such as “new Apple iPhone.” In contrast, people searching for products with mobile devices often use phrases that have six words or more. They may ask “What’s the differences between the Apple iPhone 11 and 11 Pro?” or “How many gigabytes of memory does the Apple iPhone 11 have?”

To reach these customers, your SEO campaigns need to target the right keywords. Long tail keywords are very effective for voice searches. They can improve your conversion rates since many people using voice searches have a strong intent to purchase. This is especially true with questions about price or where to buy something.

 

5. Google SERPs Give Voice Users a Single Answer

With regular Google searches, the search engine results page often shows several websites. Getting to the first position is awesome, but coming in second or third can still deliver excellent ROI for your company.

Voice searches are different. When someone asks a question using voice search, Siri only chooses one answer. On Google, this answer is often the Featured Snippet. This highlights the importance of following good SEO practices for your target audience. You need to reach the first spot on page one.

 

What Traditional SEO and Voice Search Have in Common

Voice searches have many unique characteristics, but they also share things with traditional SEO. This is good because it lets you focus on the widest audience possible, from people searching on a computer to families asking Alexa a question.

One thing both types of searches have in common is the importance of great content. Google looks beyond keywords to understand the questions people ask. One person may search for “Where are the best tropical beaches?” and another may ask “What vacation spots have white sand beaches?”

For these questions, Google gives priority to long-form articles on the best Caribbean beaches for 2019. In addition to smart keywords, they contain excellent content, including images, lists, price info, things to do and travel tips. Blog posts that are clear, helpful and convincing give you a better chance of appearing on page one for any kind of search.

Other SEO best practices also influence Google SERPs for voice searches, such as title tags and meta descriptions. Using high-quality links can give your website a trustworthy reputation, which has a major impact on search rankings.

 

How To Optimize Your Website for Voice Search

Now that you understand what makes voice searches different than regular searches, how can you optimize your website to attract more customers? Here are some goals:

  • Create featured snippets. Google Featured Snippets help more people notice your business. Since Featured Snippets are usually the best answer to a search query, if your content makes it there, it becomes Siri’s answer.
  • Write for your customers. Great web content for voice searches should answer your customers’ questions. When creating blogs, social media posts and web pages, start by thinking about your audience. What questions do they have about the topic? Understanding how to help your readers lets you write content that is more attractive.
  • Add FAQs to every web page. A great way to enhance your website for voice searches is to add FAQs to all pages. For example, clothing products may have FAQs about fabrics, washing instructions and shipping options. Service pages may answer questions about your team, processes or equipment. These sections make it easier for your customers to find the information they need.
  • Write naturally in content. People can tell the difference between a casual tone and artificial writing. Keywords are important, but they should never sound forced. You want your readers to see you as a friend providing helpful advice. You can do this by using everyday language that your audience understands.
  • Keep it simple. Search engines prefer simple explanations. They usually choose answers for voice searches that are short and direct. It’s a good idea to write your content for a ninth-grade reading level. Even if you’re answering complex questions about finances or car repairs, try to explain ideas using regular terms.
  • Get voice keyword search ideas. How can you figure out what questions are popular for specific topics? You need to do some searching of your own. One helpful (and free) app for research is Answer the Public. You type in a keyword phrase and the app shows you related questions that people are searching for. For example, “wool sweaters” provides questions such as “How do I wash wool sweaters?” and “Can wool sweaters go in the dryer?”
  • Think mobile. Voice searches go hand in hand with smartphones. Optimizing your website for Siri also means making it attractive for mobile users. Scrolling pages are more enjoyable to read, and having a clean sitemap makes navigation much easier. Don’t forget to include bullet points and short paragraphs to spice things up visually.
  • Focus on local SEO. You don’t have to actually include the words “near me” as part of your keywords. Instead, you need to make it easy for Google, Siri, Alexa and Cortana to find your business’s location information. Make sure your company address and phone number are accurate in Google My Business, Apple Maps and Yelp.

 

Voice Search: The Future of SEO

The speed, convenience and flexibility that voice searches offer are a logical step forward for SEO. This technology isn’t a fad; it’s the future. To reach customers effectively, it’s important to optimize your website for regular searches and voice searches at the same time. This may mean making changes to your website, but the growing interest in smart devices make voice search an excellent investment.

If you’re not sure what steps to take next, we can help. At Boostability, our SEO experts stay up to date with the latest industry trends. Get started right away with a free marketing consultation about voice search optimization.

Kristine Pratt
[email protected]

Kristine is the Content Marketing Manager with Boostability. She brings a decade's worth of communications strategy work to the company. In addition to being a part of the marketing team, Kristine enjoys traveling, sports, and all things nerdy.