Industry Experts Weigh in on Voice Search Optimization

Voice search is becoming a more important element of how mobile users find things, whether it’s information, food, or local services. Voice-activated AI tools like Siri, Cortana, Amazon Echo and Google Home are becoming more popular, and in addition to turning on the lights or getting the weather, people are also using them to find local businesses. All signs indicate that voice search today is where mobile search was just a few years ago—on the verge of massive adoption.

We asked some leading business owners and search experts, including Uberall’s Co-Founder Josha Benner, for tips on how local businesses can best optimize themselves for the age of voice search.

Why You Need to Utilize a Voice Strategy

Jayesh Vare of Eduonix stressed the importance for businesses to develop a voice search strategy: “With the technology now changing to voice search, many businesses are not ready at all. There are many businesses online that may rank well on traditional Google search, but may not rank at all on voice searches. This is why it is important that businesses have a voice strategy in place.”

Collin Colburn, an analyst for Forrester, highlighted how the dynamics of the customer-technology relationship is changing: “It’s more than just technology that is changing. The customer is also changing.” He notes that customers continue to evolve in a few key areas: willingness to experiment, information savviness, device usage, self-efficacy, and digital/physical integration. “What we do as marketers cannot just be for digital—it has to be for the entire experience, whether it’s online or offline.” Understanding the way that customers are evolving is the key to reaching them more effectively.

Keep Context in Mind

“Voice search is all about context,” said Josha Benner, Co-Founder of Uberall. “Your keywords should account for the different contexts that users can find themselves in. You don’t need to be too modest. Consumers often ask for the ‘best’ or ‘top 10’ places—include these keywords in your content to rank for such searches.”

Benner also mentioned that businesses can use schema or structured data markup to help Google understand their location pages and structure them in a more effective way: “Schema markup is a way to tell search engines what the information on your site means. It helps search engines understand your content in a better way, creating more catered search results that can answer specific questions or commands relating to various elements of your business.”

Integrate Voice-Friendly Content

“Preparing your site is like planning a trip,” wrote Carolyn Holzman of American Way Media. “You need to think through where you’re going and then work backwards.” She stressed the importance of having conversational FAQ sections and other mobile-ready features such as Google My Business listings.

Kenneth Burke from Text Request gave a strong emphasis to having voice search friendly language. “For most businesses, that means cutting the jargon and describing what you do simply. People don't search for ‘a group of highly motivated CPAs specializing in risk management and long-term strategic planning.’ They search for ‘tax accountant with good reviews.’ As such, you want to skip the keyword-filled jargon for more practical copy in your online listings (and on your website).”

Stick to the Basics

Many of our respondents highlighted the need to build up traditional SEO rankings. “A common misconception is that voice search is different from normal search,” said Winston Wang of What If? HQ. “Everything ties back to normal SEO. After all, it’s still about search engines. Have quality content and build valuable backlinks, so you will rank higher on Google and (therefore) voice search.” Wang emphasized that even with Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa, what is essential is “establishing a notable and trustworthy brand.”

Stay Speedy and Secure

Mobile site speed plays a big factor in voice search relevance, according to Bryan Pattman of 9Sail. “A website that loads fast has a better chance at being ranked for a voice search. Studies have shown that a site which loads faster than five seconds stands a much better chance at getting Google’s attention.”

Pattman also emphasized the need for your mobile site to be secure. “Google is very big on HTTPS sites, going so far as to label any and all HTTP sites as unsafe moving forward. Google voice search is not going to read information off of a website that it deems unsafe.”

Navigate Unique Voice Queries

Maple Holistics’ Nate Masterson stressed that the future of voice search is uncertain. He cautioned that the input from a short voice search is too simple to handle complex demands, such as shopping or browsing a directory beyond the first few results. Therefore, work has to be done to develop strategies to deliver the most relevant results.

“I believe that if this function is to truly be implemented on a wide-scale basis, websites themselves have to be upgraded (or new technology has to be created) that allows websites to communicate with these devices and update certain details to users based on relevant client information, search history, or the product category they may be browsing in. On top of that, these devices will have to use serious encryption to prevent a hack, as someone could quite easily get a person's personal details through a voice activated device.”

Ask the Right Questions

Questions are the new normal in voice search functions. Keri Lindenmuth of Kyle David Group highlighted the need for questions to be implemented into site content:

“More businesses are turning to question-and-answer formats because users doing voice search start their search by asking a question. For example, a dentist's office may do well by working their services page into content with headlines like ‘What are dental implants?’ or ‘How much do dentures cost?’ or ‘How long do crowns last?’ This is because these are the questions users may ask Siri or Alexa.”

This point was also emphasized by Monica Mizzi, a freelance writer and digital marketing expert. “My number one tip for optimizing your online business listings for voice search is to pinpoint what questions would lead people to your website. Voice searches, after all, primarily contain question phrases. A handy way to find relevant questions related to your company is to use Answer the Public. It is a free tool that identifies what people are actually searching for in relation to a given keyword.”

Manage Your Voice Search Listings Well

All of our interviewees agree: Voice search is becoming an important part of making modern businesses discoverable, and the role it plays is bound to step up over the coming years. That’s why it’s critical to properly manage listings, location pages, and online review responses in a way that is search engine friendly. Uberall works to provide enterprises with the tools they need to manage their multiple listings and optimize them for voice search from an efficient and centralized platform by providing location pages that contain plenty of structured, location-specific content for search engines to pick up. This means that no matter how users are conducting their searches, they can find your business. 

For more information, contact Uberall today.