It’s been a while since Google first launched its search engine back in 1998. Since then, the face of the platform has transformed into the most widely used information gathering tool in the world, from the way algorithms work  to the public opinion, to news and even weather alerts. What once was dominated by desktops has shifted to a mobile-dominant search market. In fact, over half of the searches on Google are now exclusively on a mobile device. As technology innovates and users crave convenience, the search engine process continues to shift. With a new implementation of searching being carved out, the rise of voice search begins.

SEO: An Evolving Subject

By now many people are aware of voice assistants, starting with the first wide-spread launch of one when Apple officially released Siri back in 2011 on the iPhone 4s. Today, tech companies are launching stand-alone voice search products for the home, capable of more features than ever. These products, such as Amazon’s Echo and Google’s Home smart speakers, are selling everywhere. Google even recently reported selling one Google Home Mini more than every second since its launch in late October, which translates to well over six million units at the time of writing this article. With the presence of virtual assistants being more ingrained in everyday culture than ever, it presents an important question: How will they influence voice search today and in the years to come?

Length and Natural Queries

There are two major changes found in the behavior of voice searches, the first being how queries are asked by consumers. The way these searches are worded changes how Google’s algorithms allow marketers to optimize their content for searches. Mobile searches are traditionally choppy and short as consumers tend to type with the minimum amount of words that will provide relevant results. For example, a search may be, “best budget guitar 2017” when typed compared to, “What are the best budget guitars this year?” when verbally spoken. This shift to conversational searches can be distinctively different from the traditional questions filled with keywords that are the target of SEO professionals. This is signaled not only by the fact that the searches are longer, but also might be more detailed as a human can speak faster than type. This leads to searches containing details like type of guitar or brand where they may not have bothered entering this data when typing on a smartphone.

Importance of Featured Snippets in Voice Search

The second aspect of voice search to take into account is how a product, such as the Google Home, will respond to you. While a traditional search engine will result in the top five to ten page results, an assistant usually only replies with either a featured snippet, a link to the first result on Google, or offer to complete a traditional search result for the consumer.

A featured snippet on Google typically responds with a brief piece of text that directly responds to a consumers search query, which has been pulled from a top ten search result determined by another one of Google’s wonderful algorithms. The benefit of a featured snippet lies in the fact that it completes the natural style of conversation. This is the typical goal of every virtual assistant. A problem arises that websites need to not only optimize to rank high on search but also aim to rank for featured snippets.

It is apparent that the rise of voice search opens up higher competition for pages to reach this featured status. The field is relatively young in terms of optimizing for voice, yet there are strategies out there. Pages rich in content that carry this conversational style voice and straightforward answers are a start to showing Google that your content is worth the time of their consumer. Also important is answering possible questions that relate to the purpose of a page’s content. Certain ways to do this include using short paragraphs, lists, and tables to facilitate for featured snippets.

The Future of SEO

The industry of marketers and SEO/SEM specialists are constantly working with new updates and algorithms to optimize page content. The new influx of voice search is no anomaly. As Google’s search console and other SEO tools advance into creating more natural voice search centered data, new possibilities present themselves. When mobile searches first started climbing in popularity, the convenience of asking an assistant “What restaurants are near me?” became possible. Voice Search continually pushes the industry to evolve and create new SEO techniques for marketers. Anticipating these changes can be critical to keep a page optimized for this innovative technology coming to search. Want to see how your site could improve upon itself? Reach out to us at