Until recently, consumers exclusively used keyboards and digital keypads to request services, ask questions, and find nearby stores online. Now, voice search has entered the mix, and consumers increasingly forego their keypads–and often their display screens–for the simpler alternative of using smartphones or at-home digital assistants to ask their questions out loud:
“Alexa, where is the nearest gas station?”
For marketers and business owners keeping up with SEO best practices, this new method of search is worth understanding. It’s a relief to know that many of the functional differences between voice and standard search are subtle. However, the result of performing well in voice search can mean less competition and more sales for businesses ready to take on the challenge.
Voice search is changing the game for search engine optimization by taking the need for screens out of the equation. Since digital assistants only tend to relay a single answer to voice search requests, the business that fulfills that top answer could feasibly multiply the number of customers shopping in their stores.
In this way voice search separates SEO top-answer providers from their competitors by giving consumers the zero-choice, easy solution many look for.
Here are the 3 tactics we recommend implementing to take full-advantage of the growing voice search market:
1. Optimize your website’s keywords for voice search
Voice search works in many of the same ways as standard search: it gleans from the key phrases and words on your website to determine your relevance on a specific search. So, what is the difference?
It boils down to the way consumers communicate their searches. Very few people speak the same way they type. Everyone becomes a little lazier when it comes to crunching out full sentences on a QWERTY keypad than when we are speaking the same request. When we can use our voices, most of us will use more long-tail phrases and greater specificity in our questions and searches.
Instead of typing “Chinese restaurants,” a user is more likely to speak into the phone “Find a Chinese restaurant near me which also serves Szechuan food.” We revert to our natural language behaviors - i.e. speaking in complete sentences.
In practice, optimizing for voice search means including a greater number of long-tail keywords and phrases in your website’s copy. Expect users to load their search requests with a lot more terms than if they were to type a request for the same service.
- Brush the dust off that FAQ page of yours. Since a high volume of voice searches involve some form of question, make sure that your website lists and answers the most common questions a consumer may ask about your services. When potential customers ask common questions about your product to their smartphone, be sure your website is ready with a robust answer.
- Include local keywords. It isn’t enough to include keywords about your business or its services. Long-tail keyword phrases should include the name of your city. “Expert plumbing services in Houston,” for example, will perform better than the same phrase without that city.
- Include a little hyperbole: You don’t have to be “the best bookstore in Manhattan” to say so on your website. Voice searchers are very likely to use hyperbole when they search for your product or services, so make the most of your online copy by including consumer language across your website.
At the end of the day, if you include the same phrases people are speaking to their smartphones in your website copy, you position yourself on an advantageous track to appearing at the top of voice searches.
2. Optimize business listings across multiple search engines, maps, and apps
Face it, we know Google is not just a search engine; it has become a synonym for search. That’s largely because internet users in the Western world use Google far more regularly than its competitors. So it’s obvious which search engine we’re using when we say “Ok, Google” to our phones. But what about those other voice search technologies?
Does Siri use Google? Does Alexa or Cortana? Pay a little more attention to your assistants and you’ll realize that they’re actually connecting you to multiple search engines and apps, including Bing, Apple Maps, Yelp, and a variety of others.
Given that 60% of voice search currently originates from digital assistants, just having a Google My Business Account is not enough. Your business locations must be present across as many search engines, maps, and apps as possible. No matter which digital assistant or smartphone your customers are using, you want to appear in their searches if you ever hope to get those customers through your doors.
And just having a listing will not be enough to rank you in that first position. Make sure your listings have as much content as possible - reviews, operating hours, expertise, location, payment options, etc. This way, not only will your business location be considered for more searches, it will also be more relevant and rank higher.
3. Attract customers and optimize your search relevance with positive reviews
“Hey Siri, order pizza for me.”
Many of us know what happens next. Pizza options are presented without so much as a need for us to unlock our phones. We tap on one of these options and are presented with a map, hours of operation, and maybe a handful of details about whether the place is child-friendly, Chicago or New York style, or if the establishment provides delivery.
Scroll further and you may reference the experiences of previous customers. Reviews and ratings determine where people choose to eat every day.
Modern business owners know the power of good vs. poor online reviews. From the perspective of many consumers, the quality of a business can be measured by the experiences previous customers took the time to write as reviews.
But consumers aren’t the only ones paying attention to what others say about your business. Many search results will prioritize businesses with strong reviews. If you want your business locations to show up in the number one spot for voice search, you can’t escape review management.
How often you obtain and how well you manage good reviews about your business can mean the difference between securing that invaluable top spot in voice search, or settling for something less. And like we discussed, voice search puts businesses in an all-or-nothing race for that top search result. Location Marketing success is more valuable than ever.
At the end of the day, there is no rocket science involved in building out a strong online presence that’s optimized for voice search. Admittedly, the implementation and management processes can be tedious - especially for becoming the top result for digital assistants. That’s why Uberall provides simple and intuitive tools for maximizing the “near me” search potential of your business - no matter how many locations you have, or which device your customers use to search!
Receive a free demo of Uberall’s Location Marketing Cloud, and see why so many businesses have simplified their marketing through our comprehensive platform.
This post is contributed by Wee Leng Tay, Strategic Partnerships Manager, Uberall. She also shared voice search methods as part of her presentation at the Asian Local Search and Media Association in Siem Reap, Cambodia, in October 2017. Download her presentation here!