Do you know how searchers are finding your business online?
Chances are, they're using voice search. In fact, it's estimated that there are 1 billion voice searches each month, and mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be locally focused!
What Is Voice Search?
In case you’ve never tried it, voice searches happen when a smartphone or computer user speaks to the device they are using to search for a particular topic or business.
For instance, if I’m driving home and I want to find a coffee shop, I can’t take my attention away from the road long enough to unlock my screen, open Google search and type “coffee shop.” Instead, I’ll open voice search and say “where can I get coffee?”
When we use voice search, we're more likely to use a conversational tone than a short phrase in the way we’d type out a text search.
We’ve explained the difference
between text search and voice search before as the difference between typing “pizza near me” on a computer and asking my phone “who delivers pizza late at night?”
Why Should Local Businesses Optimize for Voice Search?
The use of voice search is popular and it's only gaining popularity, especially with teens.
It's easier to use voice search because you don't have to type, and when using smart speakers like Google Home, you tend to receive one answer for your search, which means that you don't have to comb through search results.
And, although mobile search has taken over, voice search isn't just for smartphones and other mobile devices.
Consumers can use voice search on their laptops, tablets and PCs, too. That means we can pretty much use voice no matter what device we're on, and that's convenient (which is probably a large part of why voice search is so popular).
Besides, everyone's doing it:
- Northstar Research found that 55 percent of teens use voice search every day
- Forty percent of adults use voice search every day
- There are more than 33 million voice-first devices (like smart speakers) in circulation
- Twenty percent of Google searches are voice searches
- Voice searches on Google increased by 35 times between 2008 and 2016
- Twenty-five percent of all Bing searches are voice searches
This means that voice search optimization should be a part of your local search marketing strategy if you want to attract on-the-go, nearby customers who are searching for your product or service on their smartphones.
As you're making improvements, you should make sure that your website's structured data
(often called schema) is optimized as well.
Structured data is information about your business that's hidden in your website's source code. Although this data cannot be seen by website visitors, it's a crucial part of optimizing for voice search.
How to Optimize for Voice Search
The important thing to know about optimizing for voice search (and local search in general) is that in order for your business to appear in search results, the search engine needs to think your business is a good match for the search query. (Search engines only want to give searchers the best, most relevant results for their queries.)
According to Google's local search document
, Google determines whether your business is a good match for searches by taking into account three things for each search:
Prominence has to do with how well-known your business is. Think the number of reviews you have as well as star rating, inbound links and amount of directory listings.
Your business will have a better chance of ranking high in local searches if you are located near where the searcher is searching.
Never underestimate the power of consistency in your business’s citation information (name, address and phone number). If you want to show up for nearby searches, check out our post on the importance of citations for local businesses
And 40 percent of voice searchers are looking for directions, so make sure your name and address are consistent and correct across directories.
If your business is prominent and you are in close proximity to the searcher, the only thing left to do is be relevant to the search query.
This is where your voice search optimization will come into play. You will need to give search engines the information they need to know so they understand when your business is relevant for certain voice search terms.
Long-Tail Keyword Research
As we mentioned before, voice search often involves longer spoken phrases. “Find me a pizza restaurant nearby” rather than just “pizza.”
These longer phrases are called “long-tail keywords."
In order to optimize for voice search, you will need to research long-tail keywords related to your industry and location. We have a few favorite (free) keyword research tools, including Keyword Tool
Using these tools, you can learn which terms consumers are using to search for businesses like yours.
For instance, if you own a salon in Columbus, you might search Ubersuggest for “Pedicure Columbus” and find that users are using voice search to ask “Where can I get a pedicure with fish in Columbus?”
Once you know what your long-tail keywords are, you can add them to your website's content.
But remember that voice search usually uses more natural language than text searches, so the long-tail keywords will also need to be natural on your website.
Another voice search optimization tactic that incorporates long-tail keywords and natural language is to answer questions your customers might pose. When a searcher uses voice to ask a question and your website's content answers that question, you will be more likely to appear in the search results for their query.
You could answer questions in blog content or an FAQ section on your website so that search engines can find your business when consumers use voice search to ask questions related to your industry.
But, as always, don't just optimize for search engines. Make sure to tailor your content to the people who are using the search engines to find your business. Use natural language in posts and FAQ sections to be sure humans can understand your content.
With the rise of smart speakers and voice search on our mobile devices, it's more important than ever that your business has a voice search strategy. That's why we partnered with Alexa
to make sure our clients show up in Amazon Echo searches!