Understanding voice search technology and using it for online marketing
People search online. A trade association survey at the end of 2021 showed that most shoppers prefer to get information on Google. 76 percent of respondents take a look at Google first when searching for a product. But Google searches can be different. Quite classically, search queries (keywords) can be typed into the search engine, but innovations such as voice assistants (Siri, Alexa, etc.) mean that searches can also be conducted via voice search. This type of search is called Voice Search referred to.
What is Voice Search?
Voice Search is a technology that allows users to search the Internet for information by voice. Voice assistants enable users to find answers to their questions quickly and easily. Voice assistants are not only available on mobile devices (smartphone), but also on computers or other smart devices as for example Amazon Alexa.
Voice search is nothing new; the technology has basically been around since 2011, when Google publicly communicated that voice search was possible. Of course, the technology has developed a lot since 2011. Currently, Google achieves an accuracy of 95% for queries.
How does Voice Search technology work?
The task of the technology behind Voice Search is to transfer natural language into a machine-readable format. This is done using methods such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) . In this context, the focus of NLP is on the interaction between humans and machines. In voice search, NLP is considered a subarea of artificial intelligence, because human speech is decomposed into individual words in order to subsequently generate a semantic context to recognize. The purpose of this is that very complex search queries can be understood and also correctly classified.
For those who want to know exactly - these analyses are taken into account:
- Speech recognition: The spoken text is transmitted to the device (mobile, computer, etc.) via the microphone and transformed into a text string.
- Lexical analysis: The text chain is broken down into meaningful words and sentences.
- Morphological analysis: The text is examined for grammatical structure.
- Semantic analysis: The context of the text is grasped and thus acquires meaning.
- Pragmatic analysis: The function of the text is determined, for example whether it is a statement or a question.
This analysis makes it possible for search engines to display appropriate search results for voice queries.
Like the search engine itself, voice search takes into account local and personal preferences. Depending on where the user is located, the search results for one and the same search term can vary. By evaluating the voice, a new possibility arises in the selection of suitable search results for the respective user. Through Voice analyses Google takes into account criteria that enable highly personalized search results. For example, if a user searches for the keyword "shoes" using voice search, the voice analysis enables the voice to be classified as female or male. Through this analysis, the search engine delivers personally suitable search results for the respective user.
What voice providers are there?
Siri from Apple was the pioneer of voice providers in 2011, so to speak. As with all new technologies, there were initial difficulties, but the technology has improved enormously. Siri is available on Apple products like MacBooks, iPads, iPhones, iWatch, etc.
Google Assistant answers questions and executes commands. It is a simple way to operate smartphones and also other apps via voice command. Google Voice Search was released in 2011. Since 2012, there is also an app for mobile devices.
We know from Amazon that they always want to be at the forefront quickly. Thus, Amazon has also quickly found a connection to voice technology: The smart device Alexa for your own 4 walls. In the meantime, the Echo speaker is the market leader among smart speakers.
Of course, Microsoft also wanted to be in on the action - the voice assistant Cortana is included by default starting with Windows 10.
How is search behavior changed by voice search?
Users search differently via voice than via text-based search. Spoken search queries are usually longer because searchers formulate complete sentences instead of individual search terms. The use of mobile devices is increasing more and more, and so is the use of voice search.
Let's think carefully about when we use a voice assistant. Most of us probably give our smart home devices direct instructions like "Hey Alexa, play something by the Red Hot Chili Peppers" - and then the device does its job. The fact that we use voice search to buy products is rather a rarity via such smart devices. However, this may change in the future, which is why companies should also keep voice search in mind when planning their marketing.
What impact does voice search have on online marketing?
If you want to advertise online, you have to follow the trends. Every year, new apps, tools and devices appear that offer new digital opportunities for users and advertising companies. One of these digital options that have been constantly present for a long time is the voice search. While voice search simplifies users' daily lives, it poses challenges for companies. Considering that voice assistants are mainly used to find information, the challenge for companies is obvious. How should they make their products or services visible or "audible"?
New marketing opportunity for companies
Voice search technology and all the associated tools, devices and smart devices offer a host of new ways to market products and convey information. For companies, this offers a New touchpoint in the customer journey - personal and direct contact through language. What does it take? Content that really interests users. Companies need to understand how their target group searches and what they want to find, what questions users ask and what answers they want to get. The elaboration of a Marketing strategy is therefore the be-all and end-all when optimizing for voice search.
The focus of a voice search marketing strategy is on search engine optimization. This is not a completely new type of SEO, it is and remains important to recognize the needs of users and to meet their expectations. Where the goal of SEO is often to position a website on the first search results page, the goal of Voice Search SEO is different: The first position, and really only the first. Why? Those who search by voice get only one result, and that is the first. The measures of Voice Search SEO complement conventional SEO standards with important optimizations that are important for good results in Voice Search. Therefore, in the next point we will not go into general SEO measures, which you can read about in our article "What is SEO?" read about it. The next point is about the measures that you need to take into account for voice search to achieve success.
Voice Search SEO
In search engine optimization, there is a clear goal: to reach the first place in search engines. The development of voice search has made it more important than ever to land in the first position. Voice assistants don't look far to find an answer - they choose the top one! Especially when searching for common information, it is common for the answer to be displayed directly on the search results page. This view is called "Featured Snippet".
These features snippets are highly coveted by voice assistants - it is quite clear that they provide the answer to the original question. And that is exactly the purpose of voice assistants - to find quick answers to questions.
Voice Search SEO: focus on textual optimization
In search engine optimization, a variety of factors determine whether or not a website will achieve a good position in search engines like Google. For us the four pillars count Technology, content (content), web design and backlinks as essential to achieve a good ranking.
When optimizing content for voice search, the Content pillar is particularly relevant.
- Longtail keywords
Users search differently via voice search than they do via text-based search. With Voice Search SEO the focus should be on Longtail keywords are longer search terms that can also be whole sentences. Longtail keywords are search terms that consist of at least 3 words or more . They usually have a lower search volume than short-tail keywords (1 or 2 words) and are more complex. If you answer complex questions well within the content, you have a good chance of reaching the position of the featured snippet and thus also being played by smart devices.
- Answer questions
If companies want to answer the questions of their target group, they should deal with exactly that: With the questions of the users. Voice search queries often begin with one of the familiar W words (What? How? Who? ...). How users search can be found out quite classically with a keyword research. In our blog article KWFinder we show you how to research relevant keywords. The following tool is also suitable for researching questions AnswerThePublic, which deals only with the questions of searchers. You can find information and instructions about the AnswerThePublic tool in our blogarticle.
- Questions in the headings
Those who have answers to questions should, of course, lead the questions - best in the headlines, the meta data and also the URL. The following are also suitable for answering FAQ areas or pages. Due to the structure here, the probability is very high that search engines such as Google will play out this information on voice search queries.
- Comprehensible contents
If you have a question, you naturally want an understandable answer. The content should therefore be easy to read and also have a simple language style. The rule is therefore: Simple answers to complex questions.
Use Local SEO for Voice Search
Local search queries via voice search are very common. People are on the move and want to quickly find the nearest restaurant, hairdresser or supermarket - to save time they use voice search and get the best results. The Optimization for local search therefore also has a great advantage for voice search success.
Local Search deals mainly with the optimization of Google My Business Profiles. Google My Business profiles inform about location, offer, opening hours, ratings and more. In order to optimize one's own profile for voice search, a complete entry is important, since Google accesses precisely this data. The more information is entered, the more meaningful the profile is and the more positive reviews there are, the higher the chance of being played via Voice Search.
Structured data for voice search (schema markup)
The use of structured data enables search engines to assign data more quickly and easily. of the contents. Search engines such as Google recognize whether content is an address, a question or "speakable" content. This can be used to signal that the content is voice search content. The use of structured data is made possible by the joint initiative schema.org of Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Don't forget "normal" SEO!
If you only implement our measures specifically for Voice Search SEO, you will have little chance. It is important not to forget the "normal" SEO. Starting with the comprehensive Keyword-research, about writing user-centered SEO texts up to SEO web design and the Backlink building with other websites. If you still need information on how to implement search engine optimization in a holistic way, have a look at our comprehensive blog article "What is SEO?".
The advantages of Voice Search
Who does not know it? You want to quickly search for something and mistype? You're sitting in the car and want to enter an address into the navigation system, but you're driving? Voice search can be used in many everyday situations offer a great advantage.
Convenient use keeps your hands free and you can focus on the essentials while the voice assistant takes care of the rest. A major advantage of voice search is also the Accessibility: People who find it difficult to type in search terms will find voice search a good solution. Voice search can also provide relief for older people with reading difficulties.
Voice Search: The Future of Searching
The importance of voice search is current and will continue to grow in the future. As with other digital innovations, the topic of voice search is already more established in the USA, but Europe is also following suit. Here, it is primarily young people who use voice assistants in their everyday lives. The fact is that a large part of the search queries with a spoken search result can be answered. What will the weather be like tomorrow in Vienna? Where is the nearest post office? How old was Albert Einstein? - for such search queries there is no need for a screen anymore, because there can only be one correct answer.
What does this development mean for companies? Companies need to look at the possibilities of voice search in order to be able to continue to offer their Target groups to reach. Whether it is to provide their customers with information or to guide them through the offer with speech or to support them in the purchasing process - voice search will become increasingly relevant and thus partially replace text-based search. Companies have the opportunity to find new access to their target group through voice search. The use of long-tail search terms for content-based search engine optimization is a necessary marketing measure. Personalization is a top priority in voice search - a close look at the behavior and, above all, the needs of the target group is a must for successful voice search marketing.
Conclusion: Voice Search
The term Voice Search defines the search for information on the Internet controlled via natural language. Interactive, voice-based technologies such as Google Assistant, Cortana, Siri or Amazon Alexa are well-known voice assistants that work via mobile devices such as smartphones or other smart devices. Digital voice assistants are currently relevant and it will be impossible to imagine our everyday lives without them in the future.
To position yourself as a voice search company, successful voice search marketing is necessary. The key here is search engine marketing with a particular focus on content. The challenge and pressure to get the first position in the search results will increase more.
Voice Search FAQs
What is a digital voice assistant?
A digital voice assistant forms the interface between user and computer. Spoken instructions or questions are translated into an understandable form for the computer and can then provide information or execute commands. Digital voice assistants are now standard on mobile devices (smartphones) and computers, but smart home devices from providers such as Amazon (Alexa), Google (Hey Google) or Apple (Hey Siri) can also control areas such as the entire lighting system on voice command.
What devices are available with voice control?
The voice control function now exists on a wide range of devices: smartphones, tablets, computers, navigation devices, TVs and controls, and even smart speakers like Amazon's Echo.
Why are devices with voice control used?
Using devices that work via voice control is convenient and saves time. Answers and information come quickly and everyday tasks, such as regulating the lighting, can be taken over.
What is a Featured Snippet?
Featured snippets are direct answers to search queries that are displayed directly in the search results. Google tries to answer questions with these snippets without users having to open a search result. These featured snippets are also known as "position 0" because they are above the first position. For voice search, these answer boxes are extremely important because these snippets are read aloud during voice output.
What is Voice Commerce?
The term voice commerce is associated with the term e-commerce. Through voice commerce, the sales process is triggered or supported by speech. Probably the best-known example of voice commerce is Amazon and the smart speaker "Echo". The digital voice assistant Alexa allows users to order items from the Amazon range quickly and easily via voice command.
What are the Voice Search Quality Rater Guidelines?
Google's top priority is to deliver the best search results in the shortest possible time, thereby optimizing the user experience. With the "Voice Search Quality Rater Guidelines" Google checks the quality of the search results and evaluates them. As with text-based search, the focus here is on fulfilling the user's intention. Google evaluates here on the basis of the "Needs Meet" rating, which evaluates in 4 levels:
- Fully meets
- Highly meets
- Slightly meets
- Fails to meet
"Fully meets" is of course the optimum here and thus the goal.