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Why Your Local Business Needs Voice Search Optimization NOW

In this blog, learn why your business needs to optimize for voice search.

5 min read

The commonly cited statistic is that by 2020, half of all searches will be voice searches. Has your business optimized for voice search? In this blog, we explore why your local business needs to take advantage of this trend and how you can be among the first to do so. We're primarily going to focus on Google and Google Assistant, but we'll touch on a few other engines and their assistants as well. 

How Does Voice Search Optimization Work?

“Alexa, do you know Siri?” “Only by reputation,” Alexa says silky. Ouch. Amazon’s voice-activated assistant pulls no punches. Siri may be viewed as iPhone’s bumbling personal assistant by some, but one thing’s for certain: she started a digital assistant race that continues today.

In fact, it turns out 36 million Americans search with a voice-activated assistant device.

You can spend an entire afternoon picking Alexa’s sassy virtual brain (favorite requests include “Alexa, roll for initiative,” “Alexa, do you know the muffin man?” And, of course, “Alexa, what is meaning of life?”), but a growing number of customers are using digital assistants for a very specific kind of query:

  • Where should I go for dinner?
  • Who is the best open today?
  • What is the best salon in Albuquerque?
  • When is the Avengers movie showing?

Okay, so why does this matter to your business?

As you can see from the examples above, most voice searches are bound by proximity. Results are predominantly based on the user’s coordinates. In other words, when customers use voice search, they’re likely to be looking for a local solution.

Mobile voice search is three times more likely to be local than a text search. So if you haven't optimized for voice search, you're missing out on business. 

Voice Search Optimization: 3 Ways Local Businesses Can Get In Now

Voice search users tend to have a higher intent to buy.

That means if you’re a retailer, restaurant, hotel, tradesman, provider of commercial services, or even a franchise, voice search can and will affect the way you do business. If you want to benefit from voice search, the time to optimize for it is now—before everyone else catches on. 

Currently, most businesses are not optimized for voice search. Be one of the first and Google will show it's appreciation by ranking you higher for voice searches. Your customers will appreciate you, too, because they'll have an easier time finding you! 

Here are three ways you can optimize for voice search:

1. Claim What's Yours

Since your customers are searching by voice, you’ll want to make sure you’re optimized for voice search. It’s worth noting, however, that different voice search assistants render different results.

The top three most commonly used voice assistants are Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and Amazon Alexa. Each of these draws from different data to generate results.

  • Siri gathers business information from Apple Maps Connect and Yelp
  • Google Assistant uses Google My Business
  • Amazon Alexa uses Yelp and Yext 

You need to own and manage your digital presence. Be sure your business is set up with each of these platforms, as well as sites like TripAdvisor, if applicable to your industry (here’s looking at you, restaurateurs and hoteliers).

It's also important that when you list your business on review sites, all of your information is uniform. That makes it easier for search engines to correctly identify your business, category, and in turn, rank you higher and help customers find you. 

2. Know How Customers Use Voice Search

Voice assistants may source different data, but one key element remains the same across the board: how people speak. Voice search is most likely to begin with words like:

  • Who
  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • How

Whereas in a text search a user might simply type “Tony Robbins,” a user of voice search is far more likely to say something like “Who is Tony Robbins?” or “How old is Tony Robbins?”

This is important because when it comes to optimizing for SEO, it’s not too different than optimizing for text: You want to be using the phrases people are searching for. That means minding your whos, whats, whens, wheres, and hows. 

**Pro Tip - Note that voice search tends to be a little more conversational than text search. Having an FAQ section on your website is a great way to address this. This detailed, keyword-friendly page allows you to answer questions using the language that customers are querying with.

3. Make Sure You're Categorized Correctly

It's true that voice search is similar to regular ol' SEO. You want to: 

  • Have a fast load speed (no longer than 4.6 seconds, which you can check here)
  • Have a secure HTTPS site
  • Optimize for mobile
  • Write more local content

However, there's a key difference when it comes to voice search optimization. If someone queries for a specific product or service (as opposed to just the answer to a generic question like "how long do hair extensions last?"), Google relies on the categories you're listed under in Google My Business.

These categories are automatically determined by Google based on what it can find on your website, directory listings, or other publicly available information. Business attributes that fail to relay information in a way that Google can understand are more often not categorized correctly.

At GoSite, we see this all the time. The majority of sites aren't categorized correctly. For example, Google might have you indexed as a landscape designer when, in fact, you do tree-trimming. If you're a divorce attorney categorized under corporate attorney, no one's going to see you when they search "family lawyer". 

Stay Ahead of the Competition: Become Voice Search Optimized in a Click 

While it may not drive the majority of traffic to your website (yet), voice search will only become more popular. If you’re serious about optimizing for voice search, check out our Placement solution. It allows you to:

  • Automatically update and standardize your information across review sites and platforms, eliminating the need to log into each of them individually 
  • Instantly improve your voice search (and traditional SEO) ranking
  • Precisely control your Google My Business categories, leaving nothing to chance

Placement is a faster way of optimizing for voice search. Stay ahead of the curve and get it now before the competition kicks in!

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