Short, easy to remember, and unambiguous spelling had been the three golden rules for choosing a domain so far. Thanks to smart speakers like Alexa, Siri & Co, voice-based online search is on the rise and changing the success criteria for URLs and domain names.
We can expect businesses getting quickly used to the new rules of the game when realizing that voice search is no longer a niche phenomenon. According to a survey conducted as part of the Uberall Voice Search Readiness Report 2019, around 21% of Internet users use voice search at least once a week and around 60% of those surveyed think that voice search will continue to gain in importance in the future. So, keep in mind the following:
Domains must no longer be short: while so far particularly short names, that could be spelled quickly and without typing errors, were the most popular, voice search now enables the use of longer URLs. In this way, an address like FridaysForFuture.org suddenly becomes a catchy URL, as it does not string together individual keywords, but can be pronounced.
Interrogative sentences as URLs imitate natural language behavior: the spoken language often includes asking questions, which is why users often seek answers that way when using voice search. This can certainly be considered when choosing a URL, for example, by choosing a question as domain name. With a website like https://wheretoeat.com.sg/ you can be sure that a user who asks that question will get it well placed in the search engine results.
The pronounceability of domain names is more essential: it is also useful to pay attention to clear phonetics. While it was previously an advantage to have an unmistakably pronounceable domain, especially in radio advertising or word of mouth, this feature becomes a binding criterion with voice search. Combined with new domain endings such as .club, .fun., .website or city names, it is easy to create memorable addresses that don't bite your tongue, like wheretoeatinsingapore.com/, that is unmistakably pronounceable and at the same time unforgettable. Addresses with abbreviations and letter combinations that do not depict a word, however, lose their relevance during voice search.
Radio test helps to improve findability: a so-called 'radio test" helps to check whether a domain name is suitable for voice searches. The point is to find out whether a potential customer will be able to find the associated website after hearing a domain name in a radio commercial. For the voice search applies in particular that domains with combinations of numbers and words, like e.g., worldfilms4u.com do not pass such a test, while users find www.filmsforyou.eu much more easily.
Clearly, the surge in voice search is changing the requirements for URLs. In the meantime, spoken language already trumps the keywords and interrogative pronouns dominate the voice search.
By Daniela La Marca