What’s voice search SEO?

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Voice SEO and making voice devices work for your company are definitely pieces we need to consider in our strategy.

Voice experts Scot and Susan Westwater joined me on the Business Storytelling Podcast to give an update on how voice technology is booming.

At the time of this writing, it’s a top 5 episode of all episodes. The Westwaters also wrote a very comprehensive book on the topic.

Some basics around voice SEO

I cover some additional areas in this article, but at the core voice SEO is mostly about following best SEO practices, including:

  • Keyword research (I’m currently a big fan of Keywords Everywhere on Chrome. 100,000 keywords cost $10.)
  • Writing with SEO in mind

Also, we need to make content production with SEO in mind simple for the creators. Hamlet Batista, the late CEO at Ranksense, joined me on a livestream to discuss ways to make SEO simpler. While his area of expertise focused on e-commerce, the concept of making SEO a bigger and easier part of the process can help us with voice SEO as well.

Read next: One way to optimize content creation workflows is for writers to create in the CMS

The next two sections discuss other observations related to voice strategy, voice SEO and related topics.

Let’s talk SEO and content

How many search results are really shown in voice search? [A test]

I know that voice SEO is a bit of a buzzword now:

  • Write for voice because people now say phrases – as opposed to type keywords – into Google or Siri
  • Translation: Write conversationally.

Did we need voice search to tell us to stop writing less than conversational? Apparently so.

So let’s stop being so stilted and overly formal.

And then I heard somebody say that voice search only gives you one result! 1!

I thought: Oh, crap. It’s getting even more difficult to build and keep an audience.

But is that even true? Does voice search really only return 1 result? Everyone has to be No. 1 now. Ugh. Impossible. Obviously.

Of course, the answer is: It depends … on what you are searching for. And on what device. Using a Alexa speaker certainly gives you just one result.

But that’s not necessarily the case when you use Siri or simply voice dictate directly into Google search on Safari.

I tested this. Searching for “principles” via Siri I got one result:

voice seo results on siri

Of course, that’s not a long-tail keyword at all and most content creators shouldn’t really try to rank for it. Wikipedia was the one result.

Then when I searched for the principles of content marketing in Siri I got several results. Here’s a screen shot:

The top hit is a 2013 article from the Content Marketing Institute. I’m writing this 6 years later. It’s not always about the publish date with SEO but the relevance. Of course, in this case, I still have to click and read, so the whole voice experience isn’t 100 percent.

So that’s more than one result. Probably because it’s a very specific search phrase.


Then I went to Safari on my iPhone and did the same search. There were the regular amount of results – including a Google Snippet.

I also saw a range of the number of principles of content marketing:

  • 15
  • 6
  • 3

I’m sure it’ll be a different number if I start writing mine out.

Takeaways: Voice search SEO results

If you try to rank for something very specific, there is a chance that the top result will only be displayed.

Definitely, that’s a concern in this scenario.

But, of course, trying to rank for something super broad isn’t a great strategy for most brands. Try to rank for a host of good and relevant long-tail keywords.

Instead of trying to rank for:


Try to rank for:

Blue lollipops


Blue lollipops with stripes.

You get the idea.

Voice search might be the future, but is it the present?

People are now using voice search when looking for answers on the web. But it’s not perfect… (yet?).

I use those tools, but that doesn’t mean I use them only. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they leave me hanging. Know the tools and use the right ones in a given situation.

For example, the other day, somebody was talking on Facebook about how Uber doesn’t tell drivers that a ride has been scheduled before it’s time to pick the rider up. That’s true, and I’ve blogged about that. But Lyft does, and when I need to schedule a ride, I usually always use Lyft. That way, I know whether a driver has accepted it or not.

But just because I prefer Lyfts over Ubers and sometimes use rental cars, doesn’t mean I won’t take cabs. So this happened, and I posted the following on Facebook. On a trip, we were trying to grab the airport shuttle (option 1 in this scenario), but it never arrived. Option 2 – Lyft – also no luck. Option 3 – nearby cabs.

The whole voice search options are similar. I use voice commands to search for things. I’ve even used it to call 9-1-1 before from my Apple Watch. But often, voice commands aren’t that easy and don’t work. And yet, my voice dictates many of my blog posts.

Read next: How to use your Apple Watch as a camera remote

Issues that I’ve run into:

The phone doesn’t hear you correctly. Going back and correcting the copy can be harder than just typing it in from the start.
Somebody else was talking nearby, and the phone transcribed that! That happens more than I thought was possible. Super annoying.

And then, depending on what app you use, that’s not perfect either. Siri, for example, sometimes gives you the cliff notes version of the result, and you can’t even click for more. So now I have to go open Safari anyway and type it in again. Or voice speaks it again.

Sometimes the transcription is totally irrelevant, and you still must type it in.

The biggest way to be ready for voice search is to simply write in a conversational way and use the words your readers use to search for a topic.

Read next:  What’s helpful content anyway?

That’s not something new in digital marketing, and the only difference is that now we may have to write even more conversationally! Yay! That’s good for search, voice search, and readability in general!

[Tweet “”Write conversational to please everyone!” – @ctrappe #seo #contentmarketing #wordsmatter”]

For now, while voice search may be trending up and certainly is an option for users, for content marketers, don’t overthink it more than you would think about how to tell your story and share your content in the most easily consumed way. As always, make it part of your integrated strategy and share content that is worth consuming.

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