One of the most important things to understand about search engine optimization (SEO) is that the “rules” are constantly changing as new trends emerge. Over the last decade alone, traditional desktop search has given way to mobile search, which in turn, evolved into local search which has now taken on a new form all its own: voice search.
More people than ever are searching for local businesses like veterinarians not on a laptop computer or even via a mobile web browser, but by voice assistants scattered throughout their homes. The key to getting found by new customers – and thus using them to grow your practice – involves a few key great voice SEO strategies that you can start using immediately.
How to Optimize Your Online Presence for Voice Search Platforms
While there are a number of voice search platforms out there that customers can choose from, there are four major players that most people use in their everyday lives (at least as far as market share is concerned). These are Google Assistant, Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft Cortana.
Once you have recognized who the major players are in the world of voice search, you can then get down to optimizing your online presence for each one of them. The good news is that the majority of these platforms operate very similarly, meaning you don’t have to develop four unique strategies for four different voice platforms. Having said that, there are a number of steps you’ll want to take for each one to make sure that you achieve the results that you’re after.
- Google Assistant. As is true with other platforms, you’ll want to make sure that you’re conducting keyword research with voice search in mind during the content creation process. That is to say, don’t just do “traditional” keyword research for veterinary content and then add in voice search-related keywords later. Try to find as many question-based keywords that are related to being a veterinarian as possible. Think about the questions that someone might ask when looking for a provider and build your content around those.
- Apple Siri. Apple devices use Apple Maps by default, so you’ll want to make sure that all of your information on that platform is accurate and up-to-date. Not only can this help someone find your veterinary practice quickly and easily, but it can also get them precise directions to your location just as fast.
- Amazon Alexa. Amazon Alexa in particular is unique because it is very focused on local searches. Not that the other platforms aren’t, but Alex pulls in local business information from a variety of platforms. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that your information on Yelp is accurate and up-to-date so that people can easily find your veterinary practice when performing “near me” searches.
- Microsoft Cortana. When it comes to optimizing for Microsoft Cortana, you’ll want to pay particular attention to information posted about your practice on Microsoft-related sites. Cortana by default pulls information not from Google but from Bing by default, for example. So you would want to make sure your Bing business listing is up-to-date if Cortana is your top priority. The same is true for any information for your veterinary practice that is listed on other Microsoft services as well.
How to Grow Your Voice SEO
Having said all of that, there is certainly a lot of overlap in terms of the techniques that you will use to grow your voice SEO efforts for your veterinary practice. While it can be time-consuming, the good news is that taking care of some of these best practices once will have a positive ripple effect across all platforms.
Claim Your Business Listings
By far, the most important step you can take to optimize your voice SEO involves claiming and optimizing your various business listings on sites like Google and the aforementioned Bing. Google Business Profiles is a business-centric profile that not only allows you to provide a description of your veterinary practice as well as contact information and operation hours but also color photographs and more. Google Business Profiles will often show up in Google search results alongside the organic results, representing prime visibility on the page. They’re also what voice search platforms will draw from first, which is why it’s so important to claim your listing and make sure all information contained on it is accurate.
When optimizing for any voice search platform you’ll want to make sure that your content is targeting keywords that are written in natural language. Gone are the days when “veterinarian + [Insert City Here]” are enough to get you noticed online. Instead, you need to be thinking about phrases like “Where can I find a veterinarian in [Insert City Here]?” or “Which veterinarians are open near me?” These are the types of phrases and language choices someone would make when using Siri on a device like their iPhone or HomePod, as opposed to when typing manually into Google via a web browser.
Along the same lines, you’ll also want to make sure that you’re only publishing consistent and accurate information across all of your various online touch points. Essentially, you want to make sure that your veterinary practice’s phone number is the same on your website as it is on your Facebook profile as it is on your Google Business Profile. The same is true of every piece of information you put out into the world online – from contact information to your exact address to the services you offer and more. The only way an investment in voice search is going to pay off is if platforms like Siri or Google Assistant are serving users valid, accurate information.
Reviews & Your Star Rating Matter
Another one of the great voice SEO tips for veterinarians that you’ll want to lean into involves soliciting reviews from your patients as much as possible. Remember that SEO isn’t just about keywords – even when it comes to voice search. Instead, a wide range of other elements go into determining what your rankings are and online reviews are a big part of it.
This is because these days, a significant number of people check reviews on sites like Yelp before they make any type of purchasing decision – especially when it comes to things like veterinary services. A lot of these sites also integrate with things like Apple Maps, which are in turn sources where data is drawn from when someone uses a voice search platform like Siri.
Not only does this give a voice search platform yet another place to draw information from, but it also helps improve the visibility of your practice – something that will help with your SEO efforts in general.
Visual Content is King
Next, you’ll want to make sure that you’re including as much visual content as possible in the content you’re publishing – particularly when it comes to those aforementioned business listings. You may think that it doesn’t quite make sense to focus on things like photos if you’re thinking about voice search, but it actually does for a few key reasons. For starters, the “Alt” tags and meta descriptions that you add to pictures are yet another opportunity for you to help engines like Google “understand” your veterinary practice by ranking for more long-tail keywords. Additionally, pictures will help with your SEO efforts in general – making them a good idea all the way around.
Finally, you’ll want to pay close attention not just to what types of content you’re creating, but how. When you sit down to write your next veterinary blog post, make sure that you’re using a conversational writing style. Obviously paying attention to things like spelling, grammar and punctuation are important – but people aren’t performing voice searches with AP Style in mind. They’re speaking to voice assistants like Alexa or Siri in conversational language and to help these devices connect you with searchers, you need to do the same.
Manage Voice SEO and Grow Your Online Visibility
To help make your voice SEO efforts exponentially easier, the team at Surefire Local has developed a business intelligence marketing platform with that exact goal in mind. Not only can it help bring together all of your content creation efforts into one place, allowing you to write, publish and even edit assets like blogs from a single screen, but it also has tools built with local search in mind.
It assists not only with platforms like Google Local and Yelp but also the Better Business Bureau, Foursquare, Yahoo, Angi, and others. You can manage and update all of these places using a single application, freeing up as much of your valuable time as possible so that you can focus more on those matters that truly need your attention.
So if you’d like to find out more information about how to get found by new customers with effective voice SEO strategies like those outlined above, or if you’d just like to speak to someone about your own needs in a bit more detail, don’t hesitate — schedule a demo of our business intelligence marketing software today.