How Voice is Reshaping Local Search

Sam Martin-Ross
voice search local seo
voice search local seo

The rise of voice search is altering the landscape of SEO, changing the way users interact with search engines. With 50% of all searches predicted to be made through voice by 2020 (comScore), voice is no longer a novelty or gimmick, but rather an accessible and practical tool for searchers. While a majority of these searches are currently informational rather than commercial, there is much opportunity for growth in this sector. New tools like Google Duplex highlight the potential for voice, with it looking to become an increasingly valuable tool for businesses.

How is voice changing search?

Well, vitally, voice search has impacted the structure of user queries. Voice search queries are much more conversational in structure than typed searches, with query length often also being longer. Given this new approach to searching, SEO must be tailored to this different way of searching.

Here, we’re going to take you through optimising for local voice searches, as inspired by the fantastic talks at September’s Brighton SEO from speakers Greg Gifford and Stewart Shaw.

Local SEO and voice search

Voice search is already proving to be a valuable tool for local businesses, with 58% of consumers having used voice search to find local business information (BrightLocal, 2018). While data indicates that a majority of these searches are informational to help consumers research companies that they are already aware of, this nonetheless serves to highlight the importance of optimising for voice search.

Some other key stats from the same BrightLocal study include:

46% of voice search users look for a local business on a daily basis

28% of consumers call the business after doing a local voice search

Optimising for local voice searches

  • To increase the likelihood of appearing for local voice searches, you need to specifically focus on user intent within the local area that you’re targeting. Informational intent is at the core of voice search, so do all that you can to optimise around relevant informational queries.

  • Appearing in position 0 is the ultimate goal, so do all you can to tailor your content to Google’s requirements. This means understanding what works best where, though in general taking a straightforward ‘summary’ approach to your content structure is a good place to start.

  • To rank well on local voice search, content needs to be optimised for geo-terms in the key sections of content like the title tag, H1 and page content. However, this should be included naturally, conversationally and only where relevant.

  • Ensure that you’re using schema markup where possible. This is another valuable tool for voice search, helping Google better determine what content is to serve users key information.

  • Google My Business reviews are an important ranking factor in local SEO. In general it’s worth aiming for an overall rating of 4.5 stars and ensuring that you respond to every review. Social proof will always be important to customers, so make sure you’re removing any potential friction points.

  • Voice searches favour websites that load quickly, with the time to first byte being 0.54s versus the average webpage loading time of 2.1s. To rank well for voice searches it’s therefore integral that you’re optimising your site speed.

Ultimately, voice search is still search, it’s simply shifted search queries to take up a different structure and in turn how we optimise for these searches. Query length is much longer than before, while long-tail and conversational queries are more commonplace. While at present a majority of these searches tend to be more research driven than resulting in transactions, there is much room for growth in the commercial use of voice. Refocus your optimisation to target this informational intent and you’ll be well places to harness the increasing power of voice search.


If you’re in need of some help optimising your site for local terms or otherwise, get in touch with us today.