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How has SEO changed over time? Introducing Voice SEO

In our home we have a standard joke, “just go google”.  As our girls got older their math's and general homework become increasingly more difficult, I would send them with their questions to my husband.  Well, I thought he is a software developer he understands logical issues more than me.  The standard answer they would get from him and still is “have you googled?”. I am not sure what we did before google. 


In 2016 there was a significate switch, seeing mobile and tablet usage exceeding desktop for the first time.  According to Forrester, 82% of consumers are using mobile devices to help make a product decision.

As more people are rather using mobile devices for their searches, programs like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana become more popular the way we are doing these searches has changed over the years.  Voice searches have grown dramatically.  Apparently In 2020 more than 50% of all searches were done by voice searches.

An interesting article Voice-assistant-generations-research shows some insights into how popular voice searches are across the different generations.  Since Millennials and Gen Zers are our future if not our customers now we must understand how they look for information.

How Has Voice Search Changed SEO?

We all know how important SEO is for driving up traffic on our websites.  Key words need to be added to the website but as more and more websites are introduced we started realising you needed the longer tailed key words (phrases) in order to be seen.  Let’s take a look at the changes between written searches and voice searches.

1.    A written search verses a voice search

Have you noticed how differently you ask a question if you must type it in versus asking it?

Let us look at a simple question - what is the weather in Cape Town? if I type it I would type “weather in Cape Town?” but when I ask Siri I say ”Hi Siri, what is the weather in Cape Town today?”  Notice how when you use the voice search it becomes more conversational compared to when you type it out.

So what is important to understand is that now phrases, not words, are driving traffic.

2.    Voice Search Focuses More on Location

Since 2016, the term “near me” in mobile Google searches has grown by over 500%!  “Near me” is no longer just about finding a specific place. It’s now about finding a specific thing, in a specific area, and in a specific period of time. This is because people are looking for specific goods in their immediate location for example where is the closest coffee shop.

It has become so much easier and faster to simply ask your phone about local businesses. You need to do what you can to make sure you’re included in those search results.  In order to be seen by these searches make sure you have signed up your business on Google My Business and have a map embedded on your website.

3.    Understand the types of questions that will be asked

Questions are the cornerstone points for most voice searches. This means it’s the answers that wind up scoring the highest in results.

Featured snippets work well for engaging an audience, but also consider the “People also ask” section in Google. By providing solid answers, you can easily grow your reach.

How do I make sure my site is optimised for SEO voice?

1.    Be Descriptive

Being descriptive in your content is where a lot of intent-marketing comes from. It’s the details that will play the biggest role for quality traffic. Being too vague is going to hurt your position on the results page.

In many instances, voice search consists of precise and specific information. Part of this is because users are conditioned to look for exact details. So instead of saying “coffee shop in Cape Town” we will say “coffee shop in Loop Street, Cape Town, pet friendly”.

2.    Use Question Words

In most search queries, it’s question words that appear the most often. It’s the who, what, where, why and how that people are asking their smartphones.

However, you can also include things like “is,” “can, ” “does” and “will.” If there is a question to be asked about your brand, product or service, make sure you answer it.

The best way to use these questions are in your actual website pages.  Most of our pages have just information about us instead of addressing questions that possible customers will ask.

Create Blogs that answer these typical questions asked.

3.    Write in a way that is more conversational

Think of how you would offer advice to a friend or neighbour.  Make your language easy to understand, try avoid complicated jargon.

Being natural supports your persona of being authoritative as well as authentic. Besides, it sounds better when Google, Siri or Alexa repeats the content to the searcher.

4.    Consider Larger and Clearer Font

Most voice searches are currently coming from mobile devices. Many experts are moving to a larger and an easier reading font to engage those users.

This is because not every screen size on a hand-held device is the same size. What looks good on a seven-inch display may still be too difficult to read on something smaller than five inches.

5.    Add an FAQ Page

Adding a page for frequently asked questions is another way you can make sure the questions that customers would ask about your company are getting answered.

This is actually easy to come by if you use things like Google Analytics, Search Console or simply put in search terms in Google.

This best part of doing this you don’t need programming knowledge. Simply add a page of the most asked questions regarding your business. However, make sure your answers are not long-winded and deliver quality information with each point.

6.    Aim for Creating an Authoritative Site

Creating an authoritative site is time-consuming, but the results are worth the effort. Authoritative sites appear higher in results. 


Build content that answers commonly asked questions around your brand.  Select a topic, find the questions that are most asked on that topic and write a blog or add it onto your pages.


Voice Search is the Future

The technology powering voice search in SEO is growing at a fast pace. If you want to get ahead of the competition, you need to put in the effort now to engage those users.

Tracey van der Merwe


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