Search engine optimisation (SEO)

Voice search optimisation


The popularity of smartphones and digital assistants means that it is increasingly important to consider voice search as part of your search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. 

What is voice search?

Speech recognition technology on smartphones and other devices allow users to search by saying terms out loud instead of typing their queries. The most commonly used examples of voice search applications include:

  • Siri (developed by Apple)
  • Alexa (developed by Amazon)
  • Cortana (developed by Windows)
  • Google Assistant (developed by Google)

These applications, also known as 'digital assistants', can be used on Smartphones or other digital devices such as smart speakers (eg Echo or Google Home). 

Voice search allows users to:

  • make search engine queries
  • request specific information such as weather forecasts or sports scores 
  • launch applications
  • search for audio and video content 
  • use voice dialling

How to optimise for voice search

One of the key ways to optimise for voice search is to create content that answers a user's question. This type of content often appears at the top of a search engine results page in the form of a 'featured snippet'. This is a block displaying a summary of an answer to a user's question extracted from a webpage. Digital assistants often use information from rich snippets to respond to voice search queries. 

You can create strategic content that aims to answer user queries by:

  • ensuring you have an effective keyword strategy
  • researching popular queries with online tools 
  • use a question and answer format when writing content - eg FAQ pages
  • answer questions concisely, within one paragraph 
  • use subheadings, lists and tables 

Long-tail keywords are effective for voice search as queries are more conversational. For example a user may type 'dog-friendly cafe in Bangor' but say out loud 'hey [assistant], where near me can I get a good coffee and bring my dog'. Think about how real people talk and ask questions verbally when developing your keyword strategy. 

As voice search is often used to find local businesses, make sure your address and contact information is listed prominently online.