The Rise of Voice Search & Google Rankbrain

2nd July 2018 gecko
"Alexa: Turn on the Water"

Will the rise of voice search affect your rankings?

There have been many excellent news articles written in the past couple of weeks concerning the rise of voice search. Many different thoughts, including some opposing views about exactly how voice search might impact our lives. And our websites. Can you optimise for voice search? Or, will Google Rankbrain decide for us?

The Rise of Voice Search – Google Rankbrain

How often have you tried a voice search? And, did you compare the results between voice and screen (type-written) search queries? Are you tempted to speak your query as you would have typed it? Try searching based on how you would normally ask a question verbally. You may find that depending on the vernacular, you can get quite different results.

What is Rankbrain? It’s a Google AI that processes search results in an effort to provide relevant search results for users. If it finds a search term or phrase with which it is not familiar, the AI can make a guess at words or phrases with a similar meaning. 

The Rise of Voice Search in Cyprus comparing spoken with written results | Gecko Design
Comparing Search Results

The differences between voice and typed search results

In the left-hand area of the image above you can see that we conducted a natural voice search on “Where can I get a haircut in Paphos” on the right, a typical typed search query. The first thing you might notice is the much higher number of results found via ‘voice’ (almost double in fact at 241,000 results compared to 121,000) than for the typed query “haircut Paphos”.

Notice too that the last entry in the map links is different. In addition, Google can show a differently featured snippet in the results [normally visible just below the search term] – and designed to provide additional information to your search query.

Younger people use a different vernacular than would an older person.

Will this skew the results even further? Who is likely to benefit more from the rise in voice search? Age groups that have been using the internet most of their lives fall into two distinct groups. Millenials who can be anything between 24-38 years old and iGen / Gen Z (“Generation Z”) aged between 6 and 23 years. Both these groups are very open to and are early-adopters of new technology. They may be your target audience. If not now, certainly in the years to come when voice is likely to be a key driver. You might also expect silver-surfers to be big users of voice search. They are often techno-shy and voice searches seem to make sense as a quick way for them to get the results they need.

Because Google Rankbrain is an Artificial Intelligence (“AI”) is it capable of learning all the various accents, dialects and languages in order to deliver the most relevant results?

If it is as straightforward as the recent Google announcement, then it’s going to be massive. Below is an incredible example. Google Assistant actually initiates a telephone call to make an appointment at a hairdressing salon. Check it out on Youtube “Let Google book you a haircut” or simply watch it below…

Of course, some people will say that the rise of voice search isn’t there quite yet!

On the last Black Monday, Amazon sold Millions of their Alexa enabled devices… so this video below will be just teething problems 😉

So, how do you optimise your website for voice search?

In short. That might be very difficult to perfect. As said, the fact that people can have completely different vernacular creates a number of problems. For example; how do you optimise for slang or incorrect grammar such as the frequent use of the word: “ain’t” – it would make things impossible, as well as unbearable.

For now, probably the most sensible thing to do is to keep writing content that “answers peoples’ questions“. Whilst some might scowl at the idea of long tail keywords aiding in the rise of voice search there is merit in using this technique.

The explosion in the Rise of Voice Search | Gecko Design

Writing and Speaking use different parts of the brain

Writing (‘or blogging’) in the same style as you may have spoken is not always easy to achieve. Owing to this fact it makes sense, therefore, to make your blog posts more in-depth. Producing good content of a suitable length and quality is the surest way to help people to find you and your products and services.

Increase the use of “Who,” “What,” “Where,” “When,” and “How”

The increase in the number of people that start a search with these terms cannot be dismissed. How many times have you searched using exactly these phrases? People may type a search for “Try Diving Cyprus” – but they’re more likely to perform a voice search like “Where can I try diving in Cyprus?” You can easily make sure that your content includes voice friendly, or ‘user-friendly’ terminology and sentence structure.

The Rise of Voice Search in Cyprus | Gecko Design
"Google: Where am I?"

Local Business SEO

And, be prepared to do more for tourists by thinking about your local business SEO efforts. Many of your potential clients will be tourists who are using a mobile device. As you create your blog post, think about incorporating information about your local landmarks and well-known points of interest.

There is a very good chance that people performing a voice search, are looking for a local business in your vicinity. They might even be just down the street from you!

If they are searching in this way, they’re looking for an answer to their problem. They need a solution. Will they be able to find the answer if they cannot find you?

So… Who is going to help you? What does it cost? Where can you find support? When do you need it by? We’ll assist you in creating the right type of content for a changing marketplace. Get in touch to find out how!

If you think that we might be able to help you, please get in touch.

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