Boost Your Brand's Global Engagement With In-Language and Localized Voice Search

More users are searching for businesses and services without even touching a keyboard.


We're already living in the future with amazingly powerful computers in our pockets, instant video chat, and a constant global connection. As our devices become more advanced, the experiences they power have become richer, easier and more engaging. It’s this user experience that keeps us searching, reading, and buying.

Take a look at a relatively new feature that is quickly gaining popularity: voice search. As someone who builds their own keyboards for fun, much to my dismay, keyboards are becoming a thing of the past.

In just the last few years, users are doing everything from placing an order for food to checking the weather by talking to their smart speaker or smartphone.

Voice search offers an easy and convenient way to find the information you need through a conversational experience. And, of course, this isn't just limited to English.

Users around the world are already taking advantage of voice search in more than 20 languages, and seeing as how we do not speak the same way we write, content must be optimized to fully leverage this new search experience.

Why Voice Search Matters

Voice search is the ability for users to search the web with voice command, instead of typing a request into a search engine.

For the user, the experience is effortless: simply ask a question, and your device replies with the correct answer.

In a recent survey focusing on voice search, Microsoft uncovered that 69% of respondents reported already using a digital assistant, and that 75% of homes will have at least one smart speaker by 2020.

Even more compelling, Microsoft's report reveals voice search’s rapid adoption:

  • 47% of users utilize voice to search for a business
  • 44% research a product or service
  • 52% use voice search for a specific product or service

And this amazing experience is welcomed by users all around the world. In fact, the current top Digital Assistants probably cover a lot more regions than you'd expect:

Amazon Alexa

English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese (Brazilian), SpanishFor English: Australia, Canada, India, UK and US
For French: Canada and France
For Spanish: Spain, Mexico, US

Apple's Siri

Arabic, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin), Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malayasian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, and TurkishA variety of dialects for Chinese, Dutch, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish

Google Assistant

Danish, Dutch, English, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish and SwedishFor English: Australia, Canada, India, Singapore, UK and US
For French: Canada and France
For Spanish Mexico, Spain and US
For German: Austria and Germany

Microsoft's Cortana

English, Portuguese (Brazilian), French, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, SpanishFor English: Australia, Canada, India, UK and US
For French: Canada and France
For Spanish: Spain, Mexico

Just on paper, Apple’s Siri seems to offer the widest array of language options, and is perhaps one of the most accessible digital assistants, living in every iPhone and apple computer.

And when looking at the stats, Siri has made voice search massivle accessible. Earlier this year, the number of iPhones worldwide was announced to have surpassed 900 million.

Brands that are expanding their offerings into new markets will want to take full advantage of the rising popularity and accessibility of voice search by optimizing their translated content for voice search.

Voice Search Requires a New Approach

When it comes to the content itself, voice search engine optimization requires a unique approach compared to the optimization efforts we might be familiar with for text-based search.

This becomes even more pertinent when discussing translated and localized content.

This is due to an important distinction: people speak very differently from how they write. A simple Google search for a restaurant in midtown New York City might look like "restaurants Midtown NYC,” which is just a string of keywords.

Meanwhile, with voice search, we would naturally ask our smart device, "What are the best restaurants in Midtown?"

Since users are searching in an entirely new way, content creators must take this into considerations to take full advantage of voice search optimization, especially when optimizing voice search for localized content. How can you optimize your content for voice search?

  • Answer questions - As Google is already looking for natural language queries, voice search typically relies on a question and answer paradigm. Your content should strive to answer questions that users might be asking. (Think like Jeopardy!)
  • Communicate conversationally - Since voice search is done conversationally, we need to think of content as a conversation. This includes not only writing more casually, but focusing on more conversational keywords and phrases as well.
  • Always write simply - Keep content short and to the point. According to Backlinko, content that preforms well in the average voice search is typically written at a 9th-grade reading level, due to the conversational nature of the experience.

Localizing Content with Voice Search In Mind

Localized content can truly benefit from voice search for several different reasons. As we have mentioned before, there are quite a few methods to drafting content that will be optimized for easy translation, with a few that have the added benefit of resonating with voice search:

  • Stick to standard sentence structures
  • Avoid acronyms
  • Utilize local keywords and search terms
  • Keep sentences brief

And so when it comes to translating for voice search, there must be a careful approach taken to properly localize content while maintaining SEO and voice-search principles.

The typical keywords and longtail phrases that we might target content around most likely won't translate directly. Local keyword research and local cultural knowledge are critical here.

Professional translators will work with your brand, not only as linguists but also as cultural ambassadors.

By providing insight into both the target market, as well as how that market might search for your brand, translators can help create conversational content that is optimized to fully leverage voice-search. Translators can help your brand determine:

  1. What types of questions do users from different regions have about your product or services?
  2. Which dialect or slang terms are familiar to each region?
  3. How might users phrase their questions in their primary language?

Once you get to know how your target audience speaks, make sure your website provides concise and conversational answers to take full advantage of voice search.

Collaborate with Translators

There’s no slowing down for voice search. Again, if Microsoft’s prediction is correct, 75% of homes will have their own smart speaker by 2020.

And with 47% of existing users already searching the web for businesses, products or services through voice, brands should capture the opportunity to reach prospects and customers through the channels they use.

By working with our talented translators, Smartling enables teams to localize their content and extend their amazing brand experience into new languages, reaching new users with a voice that feels familiar -- even when asking Google or Alexa for help.

About Matt

Matt Grech is the Content Marketing Manager at Smartling, responsible for growing Smartling awareness and brand content. As a digital content writer, Matt applies his journalistic lens to content, helping users deepen their understanding of the brand, services and technology provided by Smartling. Matt has previously contributed to an industry leading Unified Communications resource, as well as local newspapers where he developed his unique ability to investigate, interview, and transform complex problems into simple solutions.