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How Voice Search Queries Differ from Non-Voice Queries

There’s been a lot written about the increase in voice powered search lately. But what are some differences between voice search queries and non-voice search queries? I recently dug into the queries of one of our insurance clients to see if anything stood out.

Google doesn’t currently share whether a search was typed, tapped or spoken, but you can break out your search query report by device. Just segment a standard search terms report by device and when you download it, you’ll have a device column that you can filter for computers, mobile phones or tablets.

Here’s what the data showed:

Voice searches are longer.

When I broke out searches from mobile phones and computers, the mobile phone queries were 11% longer than computer queries.

Why would computers, with faster typing due to full sized keyboards, have shorter queries than mobile? It’s the influence of voice search.

Voice searches are more likely to ask who, what and where.

The mobile queries were more than two times as likely as the computer queries to contain the word who, what or where. Here’s an example of some of the mobile queries we saw:

  • Who has the best most affordable cheapest auto insurance in Detroit, Michigan named the carrier the person?
  • What insurance agencies in Charleston, South Carolina rights renewals if you had lapse?
  • Where did h car automotive move to from riverside drive Clarksville, Montgomery county Tennessee riverside?
  • Who have the cheapest full coverage in New Orleans for insurance for car?

It should be noted that who, what, where queries were a small percentage of overall queries. Even for mobile, they were less than 1 percent.

Voice search dictation isn’t perfect.

As can be seen by some of the examples above, voice search isn’t perfect when it comes to properly dictating what the user is saying. This should improve over time as technology gets better at understanding the nuances of human voice.

People talk to voice search as if they were talking to a person.

Even though everyone knows there’s not an actual person behind your voice assistant (right??), people still do voice searches as if there was. Look at these mobile queries: (where a brand name was mentioned, I replaced the brand name with “[brand]”)

  • I need a auto insurance that does not check your credit report.
  • [brand] car insurance phone number i need the phone number and connect me to home please.
  • Could you give me the number to [brand] home insurance company?
  • Do you have a phone number for [brand] auto insurance?
  • Would like to speak with an agent auto car insurance.
  • Give me the [brand] insurance homeowners insurance.

Voice searches are more specific.

The queries seen were often looking for very specific pieces of information:

  • The number to the car insurance on in highland park
  • Michigan automobile insurance placement facility on laurel park drive north Livonia, Michigan
  • List with phone numbers to cheapest auto insurance in Farmington Hills, Michigan
  • Do car insurance give discount to the senior residence?

How will voice search change our SEO and paid search strategies?

Voice search means we need to think more about the long tail of search activity. One impact might be changing the way you use match types in paid search. Exact match may have been your best performing match type for your desktop campaigns, but they may be missing voice search queries due to their long tail nature. Broad match modified keywords might do a better job in capturing some of these searches.

Due to the specific nature of voice search, query reports can be even more valuable in letting you know what your potential site visitors are looking for. Asking and answering these questions in an FAQ section of your site can help you capture that organic traffic.

People are speaking to their phones and smart devices as if they were people. Your website should speak to your users in that same personalized way.

It will be exciting to watch the evolution of voice search over the coming years and how voice assistants like Google Home, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri change the way we interact online.

One Response to “How Voice Search Queries Differ from Non-Voice Queries”

  1. This is some great source data / original research on how voice search is already changing the landscape. In 3 years a lot of people will be scratching their head wondering where their search traffic went. Ignore at your own peril!

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