Voice search is the fastest growing type of search, according to the keynote speech given by Behshad Behzadi at SMX West in March, Principal Engineer at Google Zurich.

Search Smarter Than Ever Before
Very few people type the way they speak, especially when it comes to search queries.When you type, you adopt a sort of stilted shorthand, so you enter something like “weather Paris” into your search bar.As programs like Google Now, Siri, and Cortana become more popular, and their programming becomes more refined, it’s increasingly important that search engines learn to interpret natural phrases.

Voice search is now capable of interpreting and responding to:

1.Spelling Corrections/Queries
If you ask Google to show you a picture of Wales, and you get back a picture of whales, you can then clarify, “W-A-L-E-S,” and a picture of the country will now pop up.

2.What’s Been Previously Said/Searched For
If you ask “Where is the Golden Gate Bridge” and follow that up with the queries “I want to see pictures of it” and “who built it,” Google is able to interpret what “it” is based on your initial search, delivering pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge and an answer on who built it.Alternatively, if Google cannot immediately answer a query, you can help it narrow down the answer through context.So, if you ask “How high is Rigi,” voice search may not respond,because it’s an obscure mountain in the Swiss Alps.

3.Context Based on Location
If you’re at a Convention Center in San Jose and you ask voice search, “How far is the airport from the Convention Center?”Google will understand that “the Convention Center” refers to your current location in San Jose.

4.App-Based Context
If you’re chatting about a specific restaurant in an app like Viber, you can ask Google to “Show me the menu.”Google will understand which restaurant’s menu you want to see based on context, and bring up a menu for that restaurant.

5.Context of What You See On-screen
Looking up a Wikipedia entry on Johnny Depp?You can ask voice search to “Show me pictures of Johnny,” and get back a smorgasbord of Johnny Depp photos, because he’s the “Johnny” you currently have on screen.

6.Context About You
It’s not hard to imagine how this could lend itself to making instant purchases, asking voice search to “Order me a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza from Pizza Hut” or “Show me blue jeans / Show me size 12 / Order me the pair from American Eagle.”

The Death of Short Tail Keywords?
Well, for one thing, we need to seriously incorporate voice search strategy into our websites, because voice search optimization is the future of SEO.That means doubling down on excellent content, written in a conversational tone.We also need to understand that people who type a query and people who ask a question into voice search are often after two different things entirely.

1.Focus on Long Tail Keywords
While I don’t believe that short tail keywords will ever disappear entirely, they do become far less relevant when we consider the natural phrases used in voice searches.We need to focus more attention than ever on conversational, long tail keywords.

2.Provide Context with Schema Markup
This HTML add-on helps search engines understand the context of your content, which means you rankbetter in normal searches, and you’ll be more relevant in specific queries made through voice search.

3.Optimize Your Site’s Microdata
Make sure things like directions to brick and mortar locations and XML Sitemaps are readable to visitors and search engines on your website.This is the kind of information mobile users and voice searchers will most often be after.

4.Add Pages That Answer FAQs

When voice searchers as a question, they typically begin it with “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” “Why,” and “How,” and they’re looking for answers that fulfill an immediate need. To answer these queries, make a FAQs page and begin each question with these adverbs. Then answer them conversationally to appeal to voice search.

5.Do Keyword Research on Conversational Queries
Keyword research tools like Rank Tracker (disclaimer: my tool) will let you autocomplete queries using a keyword and a wildcard.Base the questions on the FAQs described above and look for commonly searchedlong tail keywords to figure out what questions you should be answering.

Where We Go From Here
I think a lot of us who grew up in an age where technology couldn’t talk back still have a certainstigma attached to talking to our phones when another human being isn’t on the other end.Voice search isclearly on the rise and we’d be foolish to ignore this trend in the SEO industry.It’s time to stop thinking linearly about only text-based queries, and start talking about how we can optimize for voice searches as well.Clearly, the future is conversational.


Peter Zmijewski is the founder and CEO at KeywordSpy.His expert knowledge on Internet Marketing practices and techniques has earned him the title “Internet Marketing Guru“ He is also an innovator, investor and entrepreneur widely recognized by the top players in the industry.