Voice Search: The Definitive Guide

Voice Search:The Definitive Guide

Voice search is HUGE right now.

And it’s only getting bigger.

The question is:

How do you optimize your site for voice search?

Well, that’s exactly what you’re going to learn in this guide.

Optimize for Voice Search

Chapter 1:The Voice Search Revolution

The Voice Search Revolution

Some people say that we’re in the middle of a “Voice Search Revolution”.

Is that true… or an exaggeration?

Let’s look at some recent stats…

41% of adults (and 55% of teens) use voice search daily (Google).

Use voice search daily

20% of all Google mobile queries are voice searches (Google).

Google mobile voice searches

Voice search has grown 35x since 2008 (KPCB).

Voice search growth worldwide

The stats paint a clear picture:

Voice search isn’t “the next big thing”. It’s already here.

And when you dig deeper, things get even more interesting…

25% of all Windows 10 desktop searches are done via voice (Branded3).

Windows 10 desktop searches made using voice search

This stat surprised me.

Contrary to popular belief, voice search isn’t just for mobile devices.

More people are talking to their desktop computers and smart speakers. Speaking of…

65% of Google Home or Amazon echo owners “can’t imagine going back” (Geomarketing).

6 out of 10 people say that voice activated devices are essential to their lives

Smart speakers are the next refrigerator – every home will have one. And as more people search with smart speakers, SEOs will need to adapt (more on that in Chapter 3).

ComScore predicted that by 2020 50% of all searches will be voice searches. No up-to-date numbers have been published, but one study puts smart speaker ownership in the US at close to 90 million. (Voicebot).

Percent of all searches as voice search in 2020

Who knows if this prediction will turn out to be true. Either way, it’s clear that voice searches are eating into keyboard-based searches.

And as you’ll soon see, this trend impacts how we optimize content for SEO.

Now, you might be wondering:

Why is voice search growing so quickly?

There are 3 main drivers behind this trend…

First, searching with your voice is 3.7x faster than typing (Bing).

Searching with voice is 3x faster than typing

Faster searches=faster answers.

So it’s no surprise that more people are using their voice instead of a keyboard.

Second, voice is perfect for mobile searches. In fact, nearly 60% of mobile searchers use voice search at least “some of the time” (Stone Temple).

Methods used to look something up

Finally, voice search is more convenient. That’s probably why more than half of respondents in one survey stated they use voice search so they “don’t have to type” (Stone Temple).

Reasons for using voice commands

Typing “how tall is the tallest building in the world” on an iPhone is a huge pain. But saying the same phrase out loud is an absolute breeze.

To summarize:

It’s clear that voice search isn’t just hype. It’s a legit trend.

And it’s a trend that’s already affecting SEO.

Chapter 2:SEO in a Voice Search World

SEO in a Voice Search World

As it turns out, searching with your voice is very different than typing.

Specifically, voice search changes:

How people search.

When people search.

And what they search for.

In this chapter I’ll breakdown these changes… and how they impact SEO.

#1: Voice Changes How People Search

Voice search changes how people search in two important ways:

  1. Searches are longer
  2. Searches are more conversational

I’ll explain…

Bing engineers noticed that voice search keywords are significantly longer than text-based searches.

Text .vs. Speech searches

And voice searches aren’t just longer… they’re less like “computer language”.

In other words: they’re more conversational.

(In fact, Google states that 70% of searches on Google Assistant use “natural language”.)

For example, let’s say you want to start making cold brew coffee at home.

A few years back, you’d probably type a short keyword like “make cold brew” into Google.

Type short keyword

But when you search for the same thing with your voice, your query will be totally different.

Specifically, your search term will be longer. You’ll also use natural, human language.

Natural keyword voice search

Needless to say, this has a big impact on how we do keyword research and on-page SEO.

I’ll show you how to adapt to this change in Chapters 3 and 4.

But for now, let’s look at the second way voice search is changing SEO…

#2: Voice Changes Where People Search

Because voice search is so convenient, it’s being used more often and in more places than ever before.

In fact, Google reports that “____ near me now” searches have grown by 150% over the last two years.

Evolution of "near me"

And these searches are happening in places that you might not expect…

One survey found that people are significantly more likely to use voice search in public places (like a restaurant, at the gym…and even in a public bathroom) compared to last year.

In what environments do people use voice search?

For example…

Let’s say you’re visiting Boston for a big meeting. And on the way to your meeting, you spill coffee on your shirt.

A few years ago, you’d head to the closest place with Wi-Fi, whip out your phone and type “clothing store Boston” into Google.

Search by typing

But thanks to LTE, location technology, and voice search, you’ll do a voice search wherever you happen to be.

Search by speech

(And like I outlined earlier, the keyword you use will be very different than if you typed it out).

#3: Voice Changes How People Get Search Results

Google is slowly changing from a search engine to an “answer engine”.

In fact, thanks to SERP features like Knowledge Graph and Featured Snippets, the number of organic clicks have dropped by 37%.

Why? You don’t need to visit a site to get your answer. It’s right there in the search results.

Knowledge graph example

And Google is using this same answer-focused technology to provide voice search results.

For example, let’s say you wanted to know how many calories are in an apple.

Back in the day, you’d search for something like “apple calories”… and be forced to sift through 10 different results.

Scrolling through Google search results

But with voice search, you can get your answer read back to you within seconds.

Single answer read back to you

Sure, lots of voice searches are done on the Google app (or by “typing” with your voice on your phone).

Which means that you still get a traditional set of 10 blue links.

Mobile search example

But this is becoming less and less common.

In fact, even when you get 10 blue links from a voice search, Google usually reads the Featured Snippet back to you.

Voice Search and Google iPhone app

So: what does this mean for SEO and content creators?

Our content needs to give people direct answers to their questions.

Otherwise, it’s going to be harder and harder to get your content in front of people.

That said, don’t stress. I’ll show you exactly how to create voice-optimized content in chapters 4 and 5.

But first, it’s time for me to show you how to do voice search-focused keyword research.

Chapter 3:Voice Keyword Research

Voice Keyword Research

In this chapter I’m going to show you how to do keyword research in a voice search world.

Specifically, I’m going to give you three actionable strategies that you can use to find voice search keywords.

Let’s dive right in.

Look For “Natural Language” Keywords

Like I mentioned in chapter 2, voice searches are more natural and conversational than text-based searches.

So robotic keywords like this…

Robotic keywords

…are slowly getting replaced with keywords like this:

Natural keywords

And when you evaluate keywords, you’ll want to keep this fact in mind.

For example, let’s take this set of results from the Google Keyword Planner:

Google Keyword Planner – Paleo diet

Most people would size up this list of keywords based only on:

  • Search volume
  • CPC
  • Seasonal trends

But thanks to voice search, you ALSO want to check to see if the keyword is conversational.

In other words:

Natural sounding keywords are going to get a big boost in search volume as voice search grows.

(And the opposite is true: if a keyword sounds robotic, expect fewer people to search for that term in the years to come.)

Don’t Avoid Insanely-Long Keywords

Most people completely avoid really long keywords.

Why?

It’s simple: VERY few people search for them.

But as more people search with their voice, “normal” keyword length is getting longer and longer:

Text .vs. Speech searches

So don’t be afraid to optimize your content around 5+ word terms, like these:

Five word plus items

Now, to be clear:

I don’t think you should optimize an entire page around really long terms.

Instead, you want to sprinkle these long keywords in your content.

As you’ll see in Chapter 4, if Google finds a keyword anywhere in a piece of content, they’ll use it as a voice search result.

Finding keywords anywhere in a piece of content

Target “Question Keywords”

Thanks largely to voice search, question keywords are up 61% year-over-year:

Growth in question phrases, year over year

A few years ago, if you wanted to get higher rankings in Google, you might search for something like this:

SEO SERPs

But you’re probably not going to whip out your iPhone and say: ”Hey Google…SEO”.

Instead, when you search with your voice, you’re going to ask a question.

How do I get my site to rank higher in Google?

You can already find question keywords in any keyword research tool:

Question keywords in Google Keyword Planner

But it takes a lot of digging.

If you want to scale this process, I recommend Answer the Public

Answer The Public – "SEO"

…and BuzzSumo’s Question Analyzer:

BuzzSumo Question Analyzer

Now that you’ve found a handful of voice search keywords, it’s time to optimize your content around them.

Chapter 4:Optimize Content for Voice Search

Optimize Content for Voice Search

In this chapter you’re going to learn how to optimize your content for voice search.

And I have some great news:

You DON’T need to completely overhaul your site.

In fact, you can get your site ready for voice search SEO with a few simple tweaks.

Include Short, Concise Answers in Your Content

Few years ago we conducted the largest voice search SEO ranking factors study ever.

Backlinko – Voice search SEO study

And one of our most interesting findings is that Google tends to answer voice search queries with short, 29-word results:

Average number of words

For example, the Google Home results for the query “are figs good for you” is:

Google Home results query

(That result is 28 words.)

That’s why it’s important that your content answers someone’s query in 30 words or less.

That said:

It doesn’t make sense to write a 30-word blog post.

That’s why you want to…

Create Voice Search FAQ Pages

FAQ pages are PERFECT for voice search.

Why?

Well, like I mentioned earlier, question keywords are on the rise.

Growth in question phrases, year over year

And you just learned that Google wants to give their users 30-ish word answers.

FAQ pages check both of these boxes.

That’s probably why voice search results are 1.7x more likely to come from an FAQ page compared to desktop results.

Results from FAQs pages

For example, if you do a voice search for “how do car insurance claims work”, here’s what you get back:

How do car insurance claims work?

Sure enough, Google pulled that answer from a FAQ page:

FAQ page results

And that’s just one keyword. FAQ pages can rank for hundreds of different voice search queries.

For example:

If you do a voice search for “how do home insurance claims work”, the result comes from that same FAQ page.

How do home insurance claims work?

Optimize for Featured Snippets

Getting in the Featured Snippet is like a voice search cheat code.

In fact, 40.7% of voice search answers come from the Featured Snippet:

Results from Featured Snippet

For example, if you do a voice search for “Is ice water bad for dogs?” with the Google iPhone app, the answer you get is:

Voice Search and Google iPhone app

And if you look at the search results, you can see that Google just read the Featured Snippet result.

Google Featured Snippet equivalent result

And keep this in mind:

Getting in the Featured Snippet is even more important for Google Home and Alexa search results.

Why?

These devices only give you ONE answer.

So if you don’t rank in Featured Snippets, you’re going to be invisible on those devices.

Write Content With Natural Language

Voice searches are more natural and less robotic than keyboard searches.

And you want to write your content the same way.

That way, when someone searches for…

Voice search results are natural

…Google will find a “match” in your content:

Voice search finds a match

(A match that wouldn’t happen if you used a robotic phrase like: “how to dm on Instagram”)

Embed Long Tail Keywords Into Long Form Content

Yes, voice searches are significantly longer than keyboard searches.

But that doesn’t mean you want to create 1000 pages optimized around 1000 different voice search terms.

In fact, one of the most surprising findings from our voice search ranking factors study was that less than 2% of all voice search results had the exact keyword in their title tag:

Exact keyword in title

Instead, Google will pull an answer from a page…

…even if that answer makes up a small section of the content.

For example, I just did a voice search for “do post offices accept credit cards”.

Voice search halfway down

And the result came from a page that only answered that question halfway down the page:

Voice search halfway down result

But because the answer was short and sweet, Google decided that it was the best result for that query.

Bottom line?

Embed lots of long tail keywords in your content.

When you do, your single page can rank for lots of different voice search queries.

Chapter 5:Advanced Tips and Strategies

Advanced Tips and Strategies

This chapter is all about teaching you advanced voice search SEO tips and strategies.

So if you’re going “all in” in voice search, you’ll love the actionable advice in this chapter.

Let’s get started.

Include “Filler” Words in Question Keywords

You already learned that question keywords are on the rise.

(Mostly driven by an increase in voice search.)

And when you optimize for questions, make sure to include “filler words”.

Filler words

Why?

Well, Bing’s Purna Virji states that:

The more matches you have, the more likely your ad will show on a voice search that includes words like “a” and “me” and “for.”

Very cool.

Write for a 9th Grade Reading Level (Or Below)

The average voice search result is written at a 9th grade reading level.

Average reading level

This means you want to AVOID jargon and fancy words in your content.

(To be honest, you should avoid this stuff anyway. But it’s nice to know that clear writing also helps your voice search rankings.)

Improve Your Sitespeed

The loading speed of a voice search result is 3.8x faster than your average website.

Time To First Byte (TTFB)

Again, you want to have a fast loading site anyway.

(Especially considering that Google’s Speed Update is now live.)

Which leads us to…

Beef Up Your Domain Authority

Did you know that sites with lots of links rank more often in voice search?

It’s true.

In fact, the average Ahrefs Domain Rating of a voice search result is nearly 77.

Average domain rating

(Which is high.)

And unlike traditional SEO, the authority of the page doesn’t seem to be an important voice search ranking signal.

Average page rating

This data is from our voice search correlation study. So it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going on using our data alone.

But my theory is this:

Many voice search “results” are actually just a single result.

And Google needs to know that they’re giving you an answer from a trusted source.

(In other words, a domain with lots of trust and authority.)

So they lean on domain authority over page authority.

For example, here’s a Google Home voice search:

Google Home voice search result

The answer comes from an authoritative domain (speedtest.net).

But the page itself has a pretty low Page Authority (13).

The bottom line is this:

If you want to rank in voice search, focus on building up your Domain Authority.

When you do, Google will want to use your site as a source… even from pages on your site that don’t have a ton of links.

Longer Content=More Voice Search Traffic

You might have heard that the average word count of a first page Google result is approximately 1,447 words:

Average content word count of the top 10 results is evenly distributed

But what you may not know is that voice search result pages tend to be even longer (2300 words).

Average word count

To be clear:

I don’t think Google’s voice algo has a sweet spot for long content.

Instead, this is just a numbers game:

A page with lots of content is more likely to “match” a voice search query.

Google Voice match from long content

Optimize for “___Near Me” Searches

Back in the day, “local” searches meant city and state.

So if you wanted to find a dry cleaner in New York, you’d Google something like this:

Dry cleaner New York Google search

Over the last few years, local searches have gone from “city”… to “block”.

(Mostly thanks to an explosion in “___ Near Me” searches.)

So if you run a local business, you NEED to optimize around terms that voice searchers use.

For example, the other day I was looking for a salad place. And I happen to be near Fenway Park.

So I used the Google app to search for: “salad near Fenway”.

And I got a list of salad places near Fenway Park:

Salad near Fenway

Businesses that optimize for “near Fenway” or “in the Fenway area” are going to rank best for hyper-local searches like this.

(Which means more customers walking through the door.)

Rank Videos in the Search Results

You may have noticed that Google recently rolled out what I call “Video Featured Snippets”.

Video Featured Snippet

As you can see, it’s a video result.

But instead of a link to a YouTube video, Google pulls out the section of the video that’s relevant to your search.

Video Featured Snippet – Section of focus

And from my informal testing (and data from Bing), these types of video results tend to pop up more often for natural language queries.

(The type of natural language queries that people use in voice searches.)

Here’s a perfect example of what I mean…

Let’s say that you want to rank your videos on YouTube. So you decide to search for some video SEO advice.

If you use a keyboard, you’re probably going to search for something like:

YouTube SEO search

Sure, there are videos in the search results. But they rank in the 5th spot.

YouTube SEO SERPs video

Look what happens when you search for the same thing using the natural language keyword: “how do I rank my YouTube videos”

Natural language search alternative

You get a Video Featured Snippet.

The takeaway is this:

Video is a BIG part of Google’s strategy for answering voice search queries.

So if you want to get your content in front of voice searchers, you need to rank your videos in Google.

Chapter 6:Voice Search SEO Case Studies

Voice Search SEO Case Studies

In this chapter you’re going to see real-life examples of voice search results.

I’ll also break each page down so you can see why it’s ranking so well.

That way, you can apply these strategies to your site.

Case Study #1: “What are Channel Keywords?”

A while ago I launched The YouTube Marketing Hub.

Backlinko – Hub – YouTube

And when I wrote the content for the hub, I made sure to optimize it for voice search.

Specifically, I included a mini FAQ section at the top of almost every page:

Backlinko – Hub – YouTube – Channel description

And it worked!

When you do a voice search for “What is a YouTube channel description?”, you get this answer from Google:

Backlinko – Voice search result

Let’s break down some of the factors that went into this result:

First, the answer was part of a mini FAQ section. As I showed you earlier, Google loves pulling voice search answers from FAQ pages.

FAQ sections

Next, the result shows up in the Featured Snippet spot:

Equivalent Featured Snippet

Third, the reading level of my answer is 9th grade, which is in-line with most other voice search results.

Finally, Backlinko’s Domain Rating is 85. That’s higher than the voice search average of 77.

Backlinko DR

Again, the authority of the page doesn’t seem to be super important for voice search SEO.

(That page’s authority is only 12.)

Ahrefs URL rating for voice search result

Let’s look at another example…

Case Study #2: “What’s the Best Way to Peel Garlic?”

The answer to this one comes from Lifehacker:

Lifehacker

This is one of the cases where Google still gives you 10 blue links.

But unlike a traditional set of search results, Google points you to a specific result by saying: “Here’s information from Lifehacker:”

So what helped this page rank for this voice search keyword?

First off, Lifehacker is a super authoritative site (Domain Rating of 91).

Lifehacker – Domain rating

The page also loads lightning fast (it has a 97/100 mobile speed score from Google PageSpeed Insights).

Lifehacker – Mobile speed score

The answer is also written in a way that’s easy to understand (it’s written at a 7th grade reading level).

Last up, the answer is in the Featured Snippet spot, which increases the odds of ranking in voice search:

Lifehacker – Featured snippet

Let’s wrap things up with one final mini case study…

Case Study #3: “How do you access the Google Keyword Planner?”

A while ago I updated my guide to getting the most out of The Google Keyword Planner.

Backlinko – Google keyword planner

Specifically, I added a bunch of snippets that would work well as a Featured Snippet or as a voice search result.

Google Keyword Planner – Snippet section

And sure enough, my page “ranks” #1 when you voice search for: “How do you access the Google Keyword Planner”.

Backlinko – Voice search result

Let’s break it down:

First, Backlinko’s Domain Rating is 85. That definitely helps.

But links aren’t nearly as important as formatting and language.

(After all, 3 of the other 10 results on the first page are from Google.com.)

Google in the SERPs

Second, even though the guide was on a technical subject, I made it easy to understand:

Easy to understand

(It’s exactly how I’d explain the Google Keyword Planner to my non-tech savvy mom.)

In fact, my page is written at an 8th-grade reading level.

Finally, the word count of my page is 2,497 words.

Optimum word count

The average voice search result is approximately 2,300 words. So my content is pretty close to the “ideal” length for voice search SEO.

Now It's Your Turn

Your Turn

Now I’d like to hear from you:

Which technique from today’s guide are you going to try first?

Are you going to target more Question Keywords?

Or maybe you’re ready to start publishing FAQ pages.

Either way, leave a comment below right now.

295 Comments

  1. Wow wow wow. Super killer post, Brian!! You keep pushing things to the next level. The design is awesome too!!

    I really enjoyed the Advanced tips in Chapter 5 but, I’ve bookmarked this and are going to have come back and re-read this post a few times to digest it fully, lol.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Darren. Glad you learned some cool new stuff.

  2. I always learn when I get these emails. Thank you Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Logan.

      I’m really happy with how this one turned out. There’s some scattered information out there about optimizing for voice search. But no single go-to resource… until now 😀

  3. Giannis Avatar Giannissays:

    Nice post again, Brian!

    1. Another well defined article. I’m always excited to read your articles that pop up in my email. Great post!

      1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

        👍👍👍

  4. As usual, a great guide! This time, I have a different question.
    Your blog post/webpage looks damn great! Is this totally designed by yourself, or you have used any page builder plugin for this?
    If you have used any page builder plugin, then please mention its name!
    Thanks!
    Rushikesh Thawale 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks. This guide is actually custom designed and coded.

  5. Brian,

    Great guide as always! Amazing info and one I’ll definitely be coming back to. Constantly trying to apply what I learn here and funnel it into my own business. So many gold nuggets of info!

    Cheers,

    Dave

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Dave. The entire Backlinko team put A LOT of work into this one. So I’m glad to hear that you learned some new strategies that you can use to optimize for voice search.

  6. Kaitlyn Avatar Kaitlynsays:

    This is a wonderful resource. Thanks Brian!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Kaitlyn. 👍 👍 👍

  7. Your guides are always incredibly comprehensive, Brian. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about voice search because I rarely use it so this was very helpful. Applying it to my SEO strategies is yet another fish to fry, though. Can the web stay static for at least a year or two? Sigh… 😉

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Wes, thank you. I’ve actually been using voice search more and more (it’s faster and easier). I hear you on that. It’s hard to keep up with all the changes. On the other hand, that’s part of the fun.

      (At least for SEO nerds like me 🤓 )

  8. As always. Really great content.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Karla. 👍👍👍

  9. Thanks for the updated content, Brian. I was wondering: Ok, let say someone finds my content via voice search, how are they going to understand that this is my site? You mentioned that only if my site rank is really high I will be mentioned by the voice machine. Is there another way?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ivaylo. Google usually references the source of the answer (“According to Backlinko….”). Even so, like I mention in Chapter 2, voice search affects how people search. So even for traditional desktop searches, it makes sense to optimize for voice search.

  10. Great content as usual! I’ve been looking for an indepth guide about voice search for a very long time – great to finally see something all in one place.

    I love the FAQ’s page idea. I always thought they were a little too 2015, but voice search gives us an excuse to start using them again. We’ve been ensuring that we head up content with a question to cover long tail keywords for voice search.

    You mention a lot about content optimisation however, I’m curious if on-page optimisation affects your ranking positions for voice search. Would you say that site owners would still need to take care of the basics, such as metas, h tags and internal link structure to rank for voice search, or would content be sufficient enough?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Curt. I’m with you: I’ve been interested in voice search for the last year or so. But most of the info was pretty scattered around.

      To answer your question: From my own experiments, I’ve found that traditional on-page SEO stuff helps A LOT with voice search rankings. Specifically, how your content is structured. For example, if you have “What is X?” above an answer, it’s more likely to rank in voice search if “What is X” is an H2 or H3. That structure helps Google understand your content a bit better… which makes it more likely to rank for voice searches.

  11. WOW! Thanks for this amazing article. I was tired of all those “useful” articles that show up on Google. Your article is the real deal.

    I think voice search is going to be more significant in the coming years as more and more people get access to superfast internet connections.

    In my country, India, Google even appears on the T.V. This alone is more than enough to encourage people to rely on voice search for day to day questions.

    🙂 Peace.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Mithun. I’m with you: voice search is becoming more popular every day. The big sticking point is the social stigma of doing voice searches in public. But as some of the data I shared from Stone Temple Consulting showed, that’s fading fast.

  12. This is one of most insightful things I’ve read in a long time. Mandatory meal time read at the office today. Search Experience Optimization is around the corner if not already here. Thanks for the information Brian.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ryan. I’m with you: SEO is definitely moving in that direction.

  13. My first thought… WOW WOW WOW and WOW! Okay… the guy, hi Darren, with the first comment said the same. But there can’ t be another word!!! How many hours are in this text? Or month or years! ;-)))) Thank you so much for this, your researches and all these information. You saved me and the others so much lifetime;-)))

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Petra. This guide was definitely a lot of work. But I’m really happy with how it turned out.

  14. Luke Avatar Lukesays:

    Crazy that you offer this content just for free!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Crazy like a fox 🙂

  15. Best Article on the new concept of SEO of voice search. Details about long tail keywords and 9th grade content writing is really informative.Thanks

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome. Yeah it’s interesting how voice search has made long tails more important. Like I mentioned in the post, though, this isn’t like 2009 where it made sense to create 1000 pages around 1000 long tail keywords. Once long piece of content can rank for thousands of long tail keywords.

  16. First I will try to implement writing short and precise Answers. And even paragraphs too. 🙂

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice!

  17. Amazing Brian! Can’t wait to dig in on this article & absorb all the goodies. Thank you for making it all easy for us!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Darshana. Let me know if you have any questions.

  18. Logan Avatar Logansays:

    Great post!! Really in-depth!!

    But I don’t like where the google is going with this.

    The google voice will read the answer of about 30 words. Minimising the amount of information that can be returned to the searcher.

    So someone asked “How many calories are in apples?” And lets say that someone is diabetic but forgot to ask how much sugar is there and in what way will which apple influence his/hers health.. Google will not provide more than 30 words and if someone asked their amazon echo device lets say, they will be satisfied with their answer and thats it.
    On another hand if they manually opened the article by keyboard typing they would read 1000-2000 words article about apple and its effect on the health while also possibly mentioning its effect on diabetic people.

    I am just giving a lame example but you get what I mean. This will affect the information age as people no longer have to read in depth and will only get the answers they can think of they need, when in fact they may need more than they asked for.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Logan, you raise a good point. And I agree with you on that. My guess is that the traditional “search for a keyword and click on 1 out of 10 blue links” is very much here to stay. There are LOTS of keywords where people need and want context and nuance. But for lots of others, people just want a quick answer.

      That said, voice search affects ALL searches because it changes how people search and the keywords that they use.

      1. Logan Avatar Logansays:

        I agree with you but I am just afraid that this new change will not promote learning in peoples lives.

        I am very young and luckily for me I was always intrigued to learn more about any topic but not everyone is like that. This may negatively impact people by reducing the overall knowledge of people on any topic they are interested in because they will be drip fed the knowledge and only if they ask.

        From what I noticed by observing friends of my age, they are simply impatient and want to get everything they need to know asap but we all know that this is not how the world works. There are no shortcuts to knowing things.

        Sure some people will take a long way and read all of the 10 results but not everyone. Those who do not will not learn more but will usually get 30 word answers on the questions they remembered to ask.

        The real problem is if there are downsides to something which they asked. Something that may seem insignificant or innocent but they just forgot to ask if there are downsides. Once something takes a turn for the worse there is no back button IRL.

        I hope I am making myself clear. Thank you for your reply Brian and once more thank you for this post because it really is amazing!

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          I totally see where you’re coming from, Logan. With every new technology there are upsides and downsides. And voice search is no different.

          Either way, as marketers, we need to be prepared for it.

  19. Wow… This is another interesting update with Google.

    However, isn’t this is going to affect niche websites with less Domain authority? I think it will

    But anyways, you made it super easy to understand!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re right: niche websites aren’t going to perform as well. Google is trying to develop ways to bubble up trusted sources of info. So the higher your domain authority, the better you’ll do in voice search.

  20. Just read Brian voice search post. Excellent coverage “Long Tail Keywords Into Long Form Content”

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Derek

  21. Faisal Avatar Faisalsays:

    Wowww… Whenever i read your post, thats my expression. All things you mentioned reagrding voice search are very helpful. Now on i will target the question keywords.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Nice!

  22. Jason Avatar Jasonsays:

    Excluding “near me” search what is the value of ranking for voice search? Most of your examples, have little to no commercial intent.

    From a local/affiliate SEO marketing prospective, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the value of having Alexia/Siri/Google Assistant read back parts of my web page.

    With voice search increasing, I would love to know how to monetize this.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Jason, you raise a really good point.

      That said, voice search impacts pretty much every keyword out there. Even commercial searches. For example, a few years ago someone might search for: “attorney SEO agency.” But with voice search they might search for: “What SEO agencies out there specialize in helping law firms?”. The intent is the same but the keyword has changed.

      1. This is a great post – but I also wondered about the best way to utilise this for non-retail products. Thank you for addressing this too.
        I will have to spend some time getting my head around this on our site.

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Thanks Rachel. Glad you found it helpful.

  23. Chris Avatar Chrissays:

    Wow, thanks for this super-detailed post. Did you have any experience how voice search works with recipes?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Chris. Do you mean looking up a recipe using Google Home or Amazon Alexa?

  24. Hi Brian, great guide as always.

    I have a question.

    You mentioned that only 2% of results have exact keywords in the title tag.

    What does that mean?

    Is Google somehow suppressing those results because they deem them too robotic for voice search (which probably runs on a different algo)?

    Do you recommend that we still follow best on-page practice (keyword in the meta title, exact match and at the beginning when it makes sense);
    or should we try to include keywords within the meta title while also making sure to use filler words to make it more natural sounding?

    I guess my question is:
    Is only the content body reserved for embedding long tails, or can we get creative with the meta information (without damaging our overall SEO)
    Thanks for your reply, once again great guide:)

    Have a nice day.

    P.S. I spotted a small typo.
    At the beginning of chapter 4 you say:
    “you get your site ready for voice ”

    You miss one “will”

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Nikola, thank you. My take is that Google is grabbing voice search results from anywhere on a page (not just pages that are specifically about that term). I don’t think they’re suppressing robotic sounding title tags (after all, users aren’t even read back the title tag). Does that make sense?

      And thanks for the typo heads up.

  25. Manos Mantzas Avatar Manos Mantzassays:

    Great post Brian! There is a problem in one of your links (Google’s Speed Update). I get:
    Missing permissions
    You do not have access to the account, property, or view. Contact an Analytics administrator who has the Manage Users permission.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Manos. Glad you liked it. Checking out the broken link now.

  26. Brian,

    As a new blogger (Started in February of this year) I can’t even begin to tell you how invaluable your blog has become to me. You always put out the most common sense information and timely as well.

    I actually blog about smart home products, so I’m very VERY familiar with voice search and it’s importance. But this post just took my knowledge to a whole new level!

    Thank you so much again for putting in the time and research and taking the time to pass on your knowledge to all of us.

    Best Regards,

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Kevin. And congrats on the new blog! You’re in an awesome, growing niche. Must be fun!

      1. You never know what’s next! Kind of like SEO…lol

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          LOL exactly.

  27. Paul watts Avatar Paul wattssays:

    Agree with Darren’s wow wow wow. Great Info. I will be updating and using this on my next sites more long tailed search words in articles and a FAQ page.
    Thanks very much

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Paul. I’ve already started adding FAQ sections to some of my content. It’s a great way to rank for more question keywords and hit a few long tails automatically.

  28. Really love the design of post!
    In fact, this awesome design attracts readers to read the complete Guide.
    At the starting of my blogging journey, my friend suggested me to do work on the Question-based keyword. But I didn’t see any result of my webpage is on a featured snippet.
    Yet I am getting usual organic traffic.
    I think I should learn more to take my site into google suggestions like voice search & Featured Snippet.
    Today I have learnt something new from your post.
    Thanks for that!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      No problem, Khalil. Glad you liked the guide.

  29. Dude, this is HUGE! Thanks so much for putting this out. I don’t do any voice search, so to me this topic is super foreign. I will take some to swallow this beast guide this weekend. In the meantime, thanks again for putting up so much great work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Ivan. Happy to help

  30. Michele Avatar Michelesays:

    Epic article Brian. Really awesome and actionable. I was just wondering if I should make voice search a priority when a lot of my income comes from running ads on my site. I need click throughs and as you say, with voice search results, they won’t need too because there are featured snippets. Any advice would be wonderful. Thank you 😊

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Good question, Michele. Appearing as a Featured Snippet is actually a cheat code to getting more traffic. The FS is going to appear anyway, so you might as well get your content in there 🙂

  31. Kirill Kibirev Avatar Kirill Kibirevsays:

    I read every post of yours and I love it.

    Just found out that the new FAQ page that we designed for a client was matching most of your tips!

    Really glad to know that we are always one step ahead googl’s updates 😉

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Awesome Kirill!

  32. Great post as always Brain! Voice Search SEO is next big thing after mobile seo. People who aren’t optimizating their website for voice search is leaving money on the table. Nearly 57% of searches on mobile happen through voice search.

    It is not hidden that mobile users have increased surprisingly in past few years that still counting on. You can’t imagine the market.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Umesh. I agree: voice search is growing at an insane pace.

  33. Damn, Brian Dean back at it with another killer article. I got a ton of value from this and will definitely be optimizing for voice search. Keep up the killer content!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Zukais.

  34. Mike Avatar Mikesays:

    Hey Brian, awesome stuff as always.

    I am most certain that I’ve already been implementing “conversational keywords” but this just drives the point home further.

    I never think of searching “macbook air university” but rather “what’s the best laptop for university students” or simply “best laptops for university students”.

    At any rate, keep up the great work!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Mike. I still find myself searching for robotic keywords (mostly because it’s faster). But I’m MUCH more conversational when I search with my voice.

  35. Helen Wilson Avatar Helen Wilsonsays:

    Hi Brian,

    Thank you so much for sharing your research and I really appreciate your clear response to Curt. As a content writer, I use FAQ pages to address long tail keyword searches, and these pages usually rank well on Google. Since most searches typically use less formal writing, I mirror the reading level in H2 and H3.
    Using a more conversational tone also alleviates any content ranking conflicts with other pages.

    The tedious part is staying on top of content. For this, I map all links, headers, and keywords for a site in Excel before transition. I, for one, am thrilled with the way Google has improved searches – especially voice search. Quality content is intentional and well worth the effort.

    Addressing your wonderful point about headers, I’m a big fan of Yoast and use the wordpress plugin. Interestingly, their online documentation for headers states “Although not a major ranking factor, headings do affect SEO. That’s because headings are important to help users understand the subject of an article. And if readers use headings to figure out what an article is about, Google will too.”

    However, my experience and your research shows that it is important to carefully structure headings for SEO. Using specific, localized, and targeted long tail keywords in headings, can make content easier to understand AND improve ranking.

    Brian, I believe that you have cracked voice search wide open. More than a few of us need to catch up to you!

    Do you think this is another win for quality SEO content or a quick fix for keyword stuffers? For example, if 20 writers use identical H1 and h2, do you know how Google compares and ranks the content that follows?

    Thanks again for sharing your hands-on research. You’re my go-to SEO Guru!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Helen. I’m really glad to hear that you enjoyed today’s guide!

      I’m with you 100%: H1 and H2 tags don’t get a lot of love. But they’re super important for helping Google understand your page. It also doesn’t hurt that lots of headers break up content into easy to read chunks.

      It’s hard to say, but it’s looking like a win for keyword stuffers right now. Like any new technology, marketers that move fast and exploit it (in the bad sense of the word) tend to have a short-term advantage. But in the long-term, quality content and sites will ultimately come out on top.

      To answer the question about 20 identical h1 and h2s, there’s a lot to that… but it’s mostly link-based.

  36. Hey Brian,

    How are you tracking the results from your voice search optimization efforts?

    I work for a big B2B software company that operates in a very competitive market so I try to focus my efforts on interesting areas which can drive above average results. The big challenge with most large organizations (it should be all companies, really) is the mantra of “if it can’t be tracked, it doesn’t count”.

    I think you can infer improvements in traffic by mining Search Console data for impressions that are likely driven by voice search (“X near me” or full sentence questions) and/or using a tool like Searchmetrics to track queries where your website is being shown in featured snippets, but I can see where both approaches would be a big reporting challenge which still probably wouldn’t tell the entire story.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks for putting this guide together!

    Brian

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Brian. And that makes sense: the results from optimizing for voice search are legit tough to track.

      That said, your idea is a smart one. “Near me” searches are likely voice searches. So are really long, conversational searches.

      (Not all of them, of course. But a good chunk)

      Google recently said something about including voice search queries in the Google Search Console. It would be AWESOME if they did that. It would make tracking the ROI of this whole thing a helluva lot easier.

  37. Once again a wonderful article, I thank you so very much for putting up great efforts in creating amazing content like this one!

    Last but not the least, I just have a quick question

    Can Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) help with voice search?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Tuhin. I’m actually not super familiar with LDA.

  38. That’s simply a wonderful article. I thank you so much for putting a lot of efforts in publishing great contents like this.

    Last but not the least, I just have one question;

    Can Latent Dirichlet Allocation (LDA) help with voice search?

  39. Again a solid MUST BOOKMARK article. Thanks Brain!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Louis. I aim to please 🙂

  40. Great article Brian. I’ve noticed these trends hanging out with friends with these devices in their homes. What’s your opinion about providing voice answers to these questions embedded in your blog? I recently started doing this in hopes that Google or Alexa would get smart enough to play an answer back through the speaker and the potential client would get to hear my voice.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hey Frank, thank you. I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean audio answers to people’s questions?

      1. Exactly. Not only do I try to produce a quality blog article but I narrate it as well with an embedded Soundcloud snippet. I figure that it would be more attractive and natural that the search engines would play an audio result back instead of serving a computerized voice (of course from Google’s recent AI assistant demo, that may not be an issue soon)

        1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

          Good stuff Frank. Very interesting.

  41. Hi Brian,

    It’s yet again another amazing piece of content. If there is one thing i would like to learn from you, it is how you craft such outstanding content not only text but very visual and graphically appealing.
    Sometimes when i am on the run but i receive an email from you, i simply scroll down while looking at the visuals then i get an idea. Latter on, i come back for the details.

    So Brian, allow me to be off topic just for today, how do you do it?

    Kudos

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks for your kind words. These guides are actually custom designed and coded. Definitely not easy!

  42. Hey Brian

    Awesome article, I’m going to start implementing this into my clients sites. Question I have on Google page insights, this is an issues we are struggling with. We can’t seem to get consistent green on the insights score. Sometimes it does sometimes it does not. In one case we had a site that was smaller in size not get green that one that was bigger in file size. All our sites are in WordPress, do you know if this is a WP issue?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hi Dean, thanks! That tool can be pretty wonky actually (especially over the last few weeks). I’d just follow the recommendations. I also recommend hitting up GTmetrix or Webpagetest.org to see how browsers actually load the site.

  43. I can only imagine the tremendous amount of hard work you put into this every single day. I’m starting up a digital marketing and SEO company in India.

    You are an inspiration to me, personally. When I got into this world, I had no clue where to start. I only knew that I could write stuff, you know? And I wasn’t even great at that.

    I’m still learning every day and I honestly think that it’s great that you put in your resources to give back to the SEO community.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Sumit. And best of luck with your new SEO company. I hope my material helps it succeed.

  44. Brian, this was a much-awaited content. And finally, we have got this.

    You are the most trustable person for this type of content.

    Also, I want to let you know that you are featured in one of my Blog Post.

    Either way, Keep up the good work!!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Mystic. Thanks for the kind words and for mentioning me in one of your blog posts.

  45. Another stellar article,I wonder if anyone has ever tried using the skyscraper method with your articles. Would be very difficult to top this one.

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Minhaj. Many have tried. Few have succeeded 🙂

  46. Definitely a FAQ page. Makes total sense and if you know your business and clients you know what they usually ask 😉

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Definitely Lautaro. It’s an easy win.

  47. Google, please show me Brian Dean doing the floss.

    Excited to see if this works, LOL

    Great article!!!!

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      LOL! Did it work? 😂😂😂

      1. No matching results that target that. But I just call that opportunity LOL

  48. Prateek Godika Avatar Prateek Godikasays:

    Brilliant information. Just wondering how voice search will have any impact on Ecommerce SEO and how to go about implementing It?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Thanks Prateek. It looks like voice search impacts all searches (including ecommerce). Think keywords like: “what’s the best yoga mat for travel?” etc.

  49. I have a website about the best rooftop bars from all over the world. My biggest challange is to find which questions people are voice searching for. Any tips on where I can find this?

    For example, maybe someone is voice searching for “Which is the best rooftop bar in Bangkok” or “where can I find the best rooftop bars in Bangkok” How do I know which question to optimize from?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      Hans, right now I don’t know of any tools that specifically give you voice searches. That said, “near me” searches are almost always voice searches.

  50. Thank you for an amazing article. I have one question, how can we drive traffic to our sites if voice searches become mainstream?

    1. Brian Dean Avatar Brian Deansays:

      You’re welcome, Dave. Voice search isn’t just for Google Home and Alexa. 20% of all mobile searches (and 25% of Windows desktop searches) are now voice searches. So there are still plenty of opportunities to get traffic from voice search.

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