Voice Research and its Impact on SEO

Thu 10 Dec 2020

In a context where users tend to want information within a voice range, it is essential for digital marketers to include voice search assistants in their natural SEO optimization (SEO) strategies. Since voice is the only possible mode of interaction with a voice assistant, access to content is therefore changing because the answers provided are also vocal, not visual. With voice technology, consumers are changing the way they interact with brands, whether for research, content or commerce. Voice interactions are less rigid than written interactions. This form of interaction is not a substitute for, but rather a complement to, existing platforms of interaction.

According to a 2018 study, 90% of respondents were aware of voice-controlled products and devices (Source: PWC). Of these, 72% have already used a voice assistant.

We therefore asked ourselves about the use of voice assistants compared to traditional textual research.

What is voice search?

Usage in France

In 2019, voice assistants will have 20 million occasional and regular users in France (Source : CNIL) and 25% of users aged 16 to 64 will use voice search every month (Source : We are social 2020). The users’ word becomes action and even consumption. Indeed, people tend to speak aloud instead of typing a phrase in a search bar. One of the reasons for this is that it is faster, multitasking and looks more natural to the user. However, voice use in public, in the office or on the street, would seem to remain limited and written research is favoured for reasons of discretion.

SEO on voice search engines

In the coming years, the number of voice requests will tend to approach the number of written requests. This already impacts a company’s SEO. Indeed, during a voice search, the virtual assistant gives only one or even 2 or 3 results to the user depending on the query. It is therefore necessary to come first in the results of a search. With the use of voice search increasingly common, a site must now be properly referenced. Thus it will be positioned favorably on a voice search engine and on the desired queries.

What are the impacts of voice research on SEO?

Different requests according to whether written or oral

Voice search differs from written search in that it is faster, allows multitasking and is becoming more reliable. Users can naturally address voice assistants as if they were talking to a person to whom they would ask a question. “Ok Google, what are the opening hours of the Orange Opera store in Paris?” “Siri, what will the weather be like tomorrow in Paris?” On their keyboards, Internet users behave differently. They search by keyword, such as “meteo Paris” or “Orange shop hours” for example. The search intent is the same but the syntax and number of words will be different. Voice search involves a complete sentence, usually in the form of a question and incorporating elements of syntax.

Simplified uses through local search

Voice searches are more likely to be local than text searches. Mobile users regularly search for information integrating local geolocation. When a user performs a voice search that includes a location context, such as searching for nearby places or asking for directions, the result will take into account the location of the Google My Business profiles. Car brands such as Seat, Ford and Volkswagen have decided to put voice assistants such as Google and Alexa on board their cars and others have decided to simply. . . create their own like BMW and Mercedes. One of the reasons for this craze is the local search: “What’s the nearest garage?” but also, “Is there a gas station nearby?”

The user no longer needs to stop to do this search on the Internet, the voice assistant does it for him. These voice assistants will also be used for:

  • manage entertainment tasks (musical playlists, radio, podcasts, etc. ),
  • organisation (calls, e-mail, appointments, etc. )
  • or the technical controls of the car (checking the oil, changing the ice wipers, etc. ).

Direct responses expected

Voice assistants aim to give only one answer: the zero position or Featured Snippet. The Featured Snippet is the search result that appears at the top of the page and is intended to provide a direct response to the user. Content positioned at zero allows Google to dictate a response during voice searches. These contents at the top of the results list are considered to be among the most relevant. By requesting information from a voice assistant or a connected speaker, the user expects the right answer directly, without having to sort through the choices offered.

In analysing the most frequent uses, we notice that they call for a simple and direct answer. According to Hadopi – CSA, among the questions most asked to vocal assistants are:

  • questions about the weather,
  • searching for information on the internet (news)
  • and the request to listen to a radio or music via free platforms.

Future home automation uses

In the areas of entertainment and in the context of the connected home, there will be more and more uses. Among the most promising uses, voice remote control already seems to have found its audience. Telecom operators such as Bouygues Telecom with their voice control Miami Voice, or Orange with Djingo, offer their customers the option of controlling their TV by voice via their remote control. Users can thus:

  • launch their applications
  • researching an artist or film
  • ask for information
  • to pause its program by means of a voice request.

Orange said:

“Almost 10% of eligible customers have become accustomed to voice control of their TV interface”

Source: 01net, October 2020, Amélie Charnay

The audio interface then becomes simpler than a screen to control objects in the home. In addition to controlling their TV, users can connect their lighting or do it with their shutters or heating for example. The voice assistants will allow a fluidity of interactions in the connected home.

How to optimize your SEO for voice and appear in zero position?

Although we notice a difference in the uses of a voice search and a written search, the quality of the content remains paramount for any referencing, vocal or textual. Voice search must respond quickly to the expressed request because it is used to save time. Users want answers that are both accurate and easy to understand. Appearing in a zero position requires real SEO work in terms of content structures and queries to be optimized.

There are several elements to be taken into account:

  • Identify the most relevant and most frequently asked questions by Internet users, about a specific industry, to incorporate them into the titles of the content. • Texts should be written in the way that Internet users might speak:
    • Incorporate longer sentences
    • interrogative adverbs
    • and use of a more conversational tone.
  • Provide location information and adapt its content to local searches.
  • Establish technical adjustments:
    • Optimizing mobile performance
    • Switching your site to https
    • The control of page loading for better site speed
  • Determine whether there are already zero positions on the result in order to constantly invest and improve its content:
    • The first paragraph is important because it is the first 40 words that will be highlighted by the voice assistant.
    • This introduction should encourage users to learn more by reading the rest of the content. Positioning in Featured Snippet requires an investment and time, the results are not always immediate.

Uses that are still not well established

Voice search is nowadays mainly used for simple queries such as:

  • an address request
  • a check of shop opening hours

But it seems that .users are more and more inclined to use voice for more complex queries Home automation uses, the cultural and audiovisual sector, with music streaming in particular, present a real opportunity for development on the French market. To respond in a complete and attractive way, companies can use Google Action, a voice application that integrates Google Voice Support, to offer their services through tutorials, FAQs or Quizzes. Uses are not yet entrenched. Continuing to improve the quality of its pages also remains essential for voice SEO, allowing it to appear in position 0.

These various actions to be carried out make it possible to put all the chances on its side to obtain a good referencing for the vocal research.

Article co-written by Manieke ANSELIN and Célia LE PESQUER

Manieke Anselin

Business Analyst