Voice Search SEO

How to optimise for voice search in 2020

As we head into 2020, it’s predicated that a whopping 50% of all searches carried out will be voice searches.

In fact, 2 out of 5 adults use voice search every single day.

If you thought voice search was a passing fad, think again. Voice search continues to go from strength to strength, year on year.

In fact, by 2024 it’s predicated that the global voice-based smart speaker market could be a mighty $30 billion-dollar industry. What’s more, 55% of all households are expected to own a smart speaker device by 2022.

So why does this matter to you?

Well, voice search has a huge impact on how we search, where we search and what we search for.

2020 is predicted to be the year of voice search. With more and more of us using voice for searching, to make purchase decisions, find local businesses and more, if you want to head to the top of your marketing game in 2020 you’ve got to optimise for it.

In this guide, we share our top tips and strategies on how to optimise for voice search in 2020. Ready to get one step ahead of the curve?

Out with the old and in with the new – reconsider your keywords


How we speak differs from how we type. That’s why voice search has made a huge difference to the way we search.

Let’s say we’re searching for the best laptop of 2019. Whereas typing this search might look something along the lines of ‘best laptop 2019’, a voice search might sound something like this: ‘what is the best laptop of 2019?’

It’s important to consider the semantic differences between these two types of search.

When typing, we tend to use shorter phrases and incomplete sentences – this saves time, effort and energy.

When speaking, we’re more likely to use longer phrases, a conversational tone and ask more questions. In fact, Google has reported that 70% of searches on its voice device assistant use natural language.

So, what does that mean for you keywords?

It’s time to rethink the rules:

Natural sounding keywords are getting a big boost in search volume as voice search grows.

That means it’s time to start incorporating these longer, more conversational keywords into your content if you wish to rank for voice search. This involves using lengthier phrases including filler words that mimic the way we speak:

What is the best laptop of 2019?”


After all, nearly 20% of all voice search queries are triggered by a set of just 25 keywords including the likes of how, what, best and where meaning it’s hugely important to include these filler words into your keywords.

For the full list of trigger keywords check out this article.

There’s no question about it – question keywords are on the rise


As well as being more conversational, voice search keywords are also far more likely to be questions – who, where, what, how, when. In this way voice search is changing what we are searching for.

In fact, question keywords are up 61% year-over-year thanks to the likes of voice search.

In order to optimise for voice search it’s time to incorporate question keywords into your content.

There are some important areas to consider when researching your question keywords:

  • What topics you want to rank for
  • What questions your audience are asking around this topic
  • How they phrase these questions when speaking vs typing

Thankfully, there are loads of handy tools out there to help you carry out your question keyword research, one of our favourites being Answer The Public:

  1. Within the tool simply enter your chosen keyword
  2. The tool will generate a list of questions that your audience are asking around this keyword
  3. The results will reflect real natural language phrases giving you an unrivalled insight into what your audience is asking and how
  4. Finally, incorporate these question keywords into your content

Another way of uncovering these crucial question keywords is by checking out Google’s own ‘Searches Related to…’ feature.

Simply type in a question you’ve already brainstormed and scroll down to the bottom of the results page where you’ll find other questions people have been asking around this topic:

This is another invaluable source of question keyword inspiration based on real data.

Formatting matters


A study carried out by Backlinko in 2018 found that Google tends to answer voice search queries with short answers – 29-word results to be precise.

This means that your content needs to answer a query or question in just 30 words or less.

No, that doesn’t mean writing 30-word blog posts. As with traditional SEO, with voice search, content of more than 2,200 words perform better than shorter content. In fact, the average word count of a voice search result page is 2,312 words, meaning Google typically sources voice search answers from long form content.

What this does mean, however, is that you need to change the way you format your content.

When it comes to content for voice search the aim should be to pack in your question keywords followed by quick, short answers to them within your long form content.

A great way of doing this is by including plenty of subheadings. Your subheadings could be the question keyword, for example, ‘What is the best laptop of 2019?’ The body of text that follows will then answer this question in less than 30 words.

FAQ pages are also perfect – they answer the searcher’s questions and are short and sweet, meaning they’re optimised for voice.

It’s no wonder voice search results are 1.7x more likely to come from an FAQ page versus desktop results.

Location, location, location – the importance of local voice search


22% of voice queries are local searches. In fact, Google revealed that ‘near me’ searches have increased more than 150% year on year.

A whopping 76% of smart speaker users perform a local voice search at least weekly with 46% of users performing voice searches to look for information on local businesses at least daily.


Voice lends itself for local search. Just think of the times when you’re driving and need a hands-free method to get local business information.

If your business has a local element, you need to be optimising for local search.

To do this:

  • Set your business up on Google My Business: this free and easy to use tool allows businesses to give Google and potential customers important information such as address and opening times. Supplying this extra information to Google improves the likelihood that you will rank when a relevant local voice search is carried out.
  • Think about local keywords: consider what phrases people use to describe the neighbourhood or area where your business is based – incorporate these local keywords into your content.
  • Include ‘near me’ in your title tags, meta description, internal links and anchor text: when looking for local business information people phrase their voice search queries using terms like ‘near me’ or ‘close by’. Incorporate these keywords into your SEO strategy in order to rank for them.

For more advice on optimising for local SEO check out our top tips here.

Mobile friendly = Voice friendly


Every digital marketer understands the importance of a mobile responsive website. After all, 57% of customers would not recommend a brand after having a bad mobile experience and a whopping 40% have turned to the competition after visiting a bad mobile site.

What’s more, Google has now switched to mobile-first indexing, meaning the mobile version of a website is the primary version. Yes, mobile is important.

But why does this matter for voice search?

Well, considering that 40% of adults use mobile voice search at least once every day, obviously, your site needs to be mobile-friendly if you’ve any chance of coming out on victorious in the battle to rank as the top result on voice search.

To test whether your website is mobile friendly try out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.

Simply enter your URL and the tool will tell you if your site is mobile-friendly or if it needs to be fixed. If the latter is the case, the tool will highlight specific steps you will need to take to improve it.

For further help on optimising your site for mobile check out our top tips and strategies.

Slow and steady doesn’t win the race – get your speed up to scratch


You site needs to load, quick. After all, users want immediate results. Nobody wants to stand around waiting for their device to give them an answer.

A study by Backlinko found that page speed plays a major role in voice search optimisation. The average voice search result page loads in 4.6 seconds – that’s 52% faster than the average page.

Your site needs to be super quick in order to pip your competitors to the post.

To check your site speed is up to scratch head over to PageSpeed Insights. Enter your site credentials to receive details on your load speed. The tool will give you a score out of 100 and offer some insights into how you can improve your site’s performance.

Alternatively, Pingdom is another useful tool. Again, enter your site’s URL, run the test and you’ll receive a speed diagnosis.

For more help  check out our handy guide to website optimisation which you’ll find here.

0 is the new number 1

11.3% of all search results now have a featured snippet. That means that featured snippets are stealing a ton of clicks from position number 1 – reducing the click through rate of the top spot by almost 25%.

Featured snippets are a summary of an answer to a searcher’s query displayed at the top of Google search results. They are taken from a webpage and include the page’s title and URL.

They can take the form of bulleted or numbered lists, paragraphs and tables. In essence they help searchers find a quick answer to their question.

So why are they important for voice search optimisation?

A whopping 40.7% of all voice search answers come from featured snippets. Google has explicitly stated that featured snippets help with mobile and voice search rankings.

If your content isn’t laid out to fit into a featured snippet then the chances are it will be passed up for the next result.

That means your content needs to provide digestible, concise and repeatable information:

  • Featured snippets are typically answers to questions. You’ll therefore need to work out what questions your audience are asking. As mentioned above, Answer the Public is a great tool for finding these out.
  • The next step is writing a response to these questions. Again, as discussed earlier, pack in short, concise answers to questions within longer form content such as blog posts or FAQ pages.
  • SEMrush found that most featured snippets are between 40-50 words long, so aim to answer your audience’s questions within this word limit.
  • Format correctly: use headers, subheadings, numbered or bulleted lists, tables, graphs, relevant images and short, digestible sentences that provide direct answers to questions.
  • Establish keywords that you already rank for that also have a featured snippet. This is important because 58% of all featured snippets come from pages that already rank on the first page for that search term. You can use Ahrefs Organic Keywords Report to discover a list of keywords that your site ranks for that also have featured snippets.

Be an authoritative figure


Sites that have a lot of links, loads of shares on social, contain quality content and offer good user experience are the ones that get a high share of voice search traffic.

Becoming an authoritative domain doesn’t happen overnight. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t become an authority or expert within your industry or niche in time.

If your site isn’t up to scratch work on improving it. Whether that requires sprucing up the design or creating better content. Look at your competitors. What do they do well? What inspiration can you take from them? After all, if you’ve got poor quality content with no backlinks you’ve no chance of ranking in voice search.

Link building in 2019 is now harder than ever with over a billion websites live right now. When it comes to building links stop wasting hours sending out email after email and hoping for the best. Instead make use of handy tools such as Ahref’s link intersect feature.

Here you can see which sites link to your competitors that don’t link to you. If you identify a site that links to several other sites in your industry then there’s a high chance that if you reach out to them, they will link to your site too.

In terms of content, it’s got to be quality, unique and offer real value to your audience. With so much content out there, yours has got to do something special to stand out. Think about:

  • How can you help your audience?
  • What changes are taking place in your industry and what questions will your audience have around these?
  • Do you have unique data to publish? People love new, exciting research. What’s more, you’ve probably got tons of unique data at your fingertips from your own company.

For more help on creating awesome copy check out our top tips here.


Next Steps – ready to come out top in the battle of voice search?


Voice search shows no signs of slowing down. It’s a quick and easy way to search that requires little energy or effort, that’s what makes it so popular. But, businesses that fail to optimise for search, fail to reap the huge benefits it can bring. If you’d like further help ranking for voice search reach out to the Report Central team today.

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Request a free consultation with our team of experts.


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