Will SEO Pundits have to Optimize Voice Search for Better Future Outcomes?

3 min read

Since its widespread hype in 2016, voice search has maintained a prominent position in discussions around technological advancements. In 2018, around one in three articles advocated optimizing websites for voice search, touting it as the path to optimal results.
However, a recent revelation from Google’s Martin Splitt has reshaped this narrative. According to Splitt, voice search doesn’t hold the status of being the definitive future of Search, thereby rendering the need for proactive optimization unnecessary.
Voice search operates as a technology that translates spoken language into text, subsequently analyzing it for questions and commands. This undertaking presents a challenge due to the conversational manner in which people interact, as opposed to the conventional method of typing a keyword into a search bar and hitting “Google Search.”
Google’s efforts in this arena encompassed introducing speakable structured data and the incorporation of Guided Recipes into the search console. Although Google seemingly paved the way for voice search optimization, recent revelations from the Search off the Record podcast suggest otherwise. Voice search doesn’t hold the mantle of being SEO’s future.
While optimizing for voice search remains worthwhile, its transformative potential in driving sales is limited. Current trends indicate that voice search predominantly caters to minor tasks such as commanding “turn off lights” or seeking clarification on “what is SEO.” It also exhibits utility for local businesses, as users can conveniently inquire about directions to their establishments via voice search. However, for those aiming to excel in search engine prominence, voice search might not be the ultimate trajectory for success.

What is voice search?

In 2018, Google unveiled the Speakable schema structured data as part of a Beta program targeted primarily at news publishers. This announcement conjured a vision where users would query Google for news, and in response, Google’s Assistant would audibly deliver news excerpts while also dispatching relevant links to the user’s mobile devices.
“When people ask the Google Assistant — ‘Hey Google, what’s the latest news on NASA?’ — the Google Assistant replies with an excerpt from a news article and the news organization’s name. Then the Google Assistant asks if the user wants to hear another news article and sends the relevant links to the user’s mobile device.”
In the subsequent stages,
Speakable structured data was presented to publishers as a novel avenue for accessing a broader audience.
“The speakable schema.org property identifies sections within an article or webpage best suited for audio playback using text-to-speech (TTS). Adding markup allows search engines and other applications to identify content to read aloud on Google Assistant-enabled devices using TTS. Web pages with speakable structured data can use Google Assistant to distribute the content through new channels and reach a wider base of users.”
In an episode of the Search Off the Record podcast, Googlers John Mueller and Martin Splitt delved into the future of search, a discourse that inevitably steered toward the realm of voice search.

John Mueller inquired whether the search industry would have to optimise for voice search in the future.


Martin Splitt didn’t waste any time and straight away responded

His response was ambiguous.


John Mueller asked:

“What about voice search? Will SEOs have to optimize for voice search?”

Martin Splitt answered:


“Oh God, the future that never will be. I think no, because if we learn anything…”

“I remember a bunch of years ago, people were like: “Oh, we’ll stop using keyboards and just do voice.”

And I think that has been a recurring theme from the 90s.”

He mentioned that the “input modality” of voice search had changed, which means that how search is experienced has changed but that the back end of a search that processes voice commands has not changed, implying that voice SEO does not need to exist.


Martin further explained:

“But I think in the future, it won’t change and will naturally or magically become the number one thing that we need to worry about.

Simply because it changes the input modality, and it probably changes how queries are phrased, but it doesn’t change the fundamental use of natural language to retrieve information from the Internet.

So I think you don’t have to worry too much about it, to be honest, but that’s maybe just me.


The explanation is subjective, although specific assertions hold merit.
Optimizing your website for voice search remains valuable, yet it should be accorded a lower priority. Allocating approximately 20% of your SEO efforts to voice search optimization is a reasonable approach, as it ultimately forms just one facet of the broader distribution strategy. The paramount emphasis, however, should persistently revolve around generating content that addresses problems and caters to the needs of your target audience.

Source – Search engine journal