11 Minute Read

The Rise of Voice Search and Its Implications for Brands

Voice search is growing rapidly, driven by the popularity of smart speakers and voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. According to a recent report by Comscore, nearly 50% of smartphone users utilize voice search at least once per month. With the convenience and hands-free nature of voice queries, this trend is likely to accelerate.

For brands, the growth of voice search presents both opportunities and challenges when it comes to online visibility and relevance.

Minerva Digital CEO and founder Cassandra Gucwa said, “Voice search represents a pivotal shift in consumer behavior. Brands that start optimizing for voice search now will have a huge competitive advantage in the coming years as smart speakers and voice assistants become widespread.”

Voice queries do not display the traditional SERPs (search engine results pages) filled with links, images, and text snippets. Instead, they provide short, spoken answers read aloud by the voice assistant. This means brands need to optimize for voice search differently than for typed keyword searches.

Understanding the Voice Search User Intent

With voice search, queries tend to be more conversational and focused on specific user intents. People are more likely to ask questions that can be answered directly rather than browsing more informational queries. Common user intents include:

  • Locating a business or establishment
  • Getting a product/service recommendation
  • Checking a fact or seeking a specific data point
  • Finding reviews and ratings
  • Discovering operating hours and contact details

This means brands should focus on optimizing for search intents that align with their offerings and can fulfill the voice user’s need. For example, restaurants should aim to surface queries like “what restaurants are open now nearby.” Retail brands should look to appear for product recommendation requests and service professionals for queries indicating a specific need like home repair or pet grooming assistance.

Optimizing for Featured Snippets and Structured Data

One of the best ways for brands to gain visibility in voice search results is by ranking for featured snippets. These are the short answer boxes that appear prominently at the top of traditional SERPs. With voice search, they are even more integral since they allow the voice assistant to immediately read a direct response to the user.

To optimize for featured snippets, brands should publish high-quality, extensively researched content that provides definitive answers around keywords and questions relevant to their business. Well-structured FAQs and guides work well for featured snippets.

It also helps to include structured data markup on pages using schema.org standards. This gives Google and other search engines clearer indications around your content to serve for voice search queries. Focus on markups like Reviews, Events, FAQPage, HowTo, and Product.

Generate Reviews and Engage on Local Listings

In voice search, local search results that list contact info, locations, and open hours are very common—especially for searches with local intent. To appear here, brands need robust and claimed local listings complete with accurate business info, photos, and amenities.

The more reviews and engagement these listings receive, the more authority they will carry in local search results, including for voice queries. Having recent, positive customer reviews helps as well. This means brands should focus on generating more reviews and encourage customers to engage with their listings to ensure they maintain high local visibility.

Build a Knowledge Panel for Brand Entities

People often use voice search to just ask questions straight to the voice assistant. The answer they get back may source from a general web result, but for branded entities, it will often come from what’s called a knowledge panel. These panels are essentially a SERP for the brand itself with key info, contact options, official images, and more.

Brands should check if they have a knowledge panel and if so, expand it out fully with critical details—a website link, popular products/services overview, founding information, key people (founders, executives, top talent). This will allow voice assistants to provide richer, more relevant answers to questions using a brand’s own panel rather than some generic web result.

Name Recognition and Unified Business Name Strategy

One of the most fundamental factors in voice search success is having a brand name that users are likely to say frequently in their voice queries. If people don’t refer to your brand by name while searching, you miss that opportunity for your business to appear as the spoken result. This means adopting naming conventions aligned with colloquial speech around your offerings.

Across all locations and listings, brands should also strive to have a unified business name strategy that matches the branding people see in marketing materials and what they are likely to say conversationally. Nicknames, shorthand names, and abbreviations that are common ways customers refer to your business should redirect not conflict with full brand name properties. This cohesion helps reinforce name recognition and visibility for voice results.

Embrace Long-Tail Keyword Opportunities

In typed searches, keywords tend to be shorter, with one to three words. But with voice queries, people often speak longer, more conversational phrases. Analyze the long-tail keywords people may use that indicate an intent to your brand services. Optimize pages and content now around these longer phrases so you can rank for the voice searches likely in the future.

Most voice assistants display minimal result options a user must choose from. This limits the ability for multiple brands to surface for the same query. So ranking for more niche long-tail queries that still indicate user intent gives brands a better chance of being that one result served up, essentially guaranteeing the click-through.

Publish Podcasts and Videos

Podcasts and videos represent content formats mimicking oral conversation. As such, search engines may favor them more for voice search queries so people get back a similar audio response.

Brands have an opportunity to publish podcast series—especially episodic interview formats—around industry topics to better optimize for voice search traffic. Developing a full YouTube presence with regularly updated branded video content can help as well. This orients your brand around audio and voice-driven content catering well to voice assistant results.

Pursue Audio Ads on Smart Speakers

Native voice search platforms present unique audio advertising opportunities. Both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant offer audio ads on their smart speakers enabled through their advertising platforms. These audio ads help brands insert themselves directly into the voice search experience.

Brands pursuing voice search visibility should consider allocating marketing budget toward native voice search audio ads. Done right, these ads’ conversational context feels natural versus disruptive—and can utilize weather triggers, location targeting, lead generation prompts and more to reach consumers at opportune moments through their smart speaker habits with relevant messaging.

Foster Direct Voice Assistant Relationships

Leading voice assistant platforms all offer their own means for brands to build dedicated integrations that give users quick access to key tasks associated with those brands. Brands can submit an “action” in Google Assistant, a “skill” in Alexa, or a “shortcut” in Apple’s Siri that simplifies frequent customer tasks into simple voice commands users can activate.

Examples include checking a bank account balance, ordering items commonly purchased, checking loyalty point balances, accessing self-service support, contacting business locations, scheduling appointments, paying bills, requesting services like taxis or food delivery, controlling smart home devices, and more.

Developing “actions” and “skills” helps brands insert themselves straight into the voice search assistant experience in a relevant, user-centric manner. Actions even appear in Google Assistant’s visual overview of related brand info. They effectively become fundamental to the brand-user relationship, ensuring convenience and visibility through voice commands.

The Future Is Voice

Voice search represents the future of consumer search behavior and engagement. As more people adopt smart speakers and interact conversationally with their mobile voice assistants, brands must prioritize visibility in these voice results.

The strategies above around featured snippets, local listings, knowledge panels, longer keywords, new content formats, and native voice integrations enable brands to gain relevance in the voice search sphere. They ensure brands surface in the tight result sets voice offers, provide users the right assistance for their voice-based intents, mimic natural speech patterns, and embed brands directly into the platform experiences.

“Developing actions, skills, and voice integrations with major assistants like Alexa and Google is crucial. Building these direct brand relationships through voice commands fosters visibility, convenience, and habit-forming engagement with customers,” Gucwa said.

Brands that embrace voice search now will have a clear advantage as voice increasingly becomes the platform for search itself. Early optimization and adoption ensure visibility as voice reshapes the digital landscape.

Cassandra GucwaCassandra Gucwa is the Founder and CEO of Menerva Digital, an SEO agency serving enterprise companies.