As an optometrist, you likely already know the importance of establishing a solid online presence. But are you aware that there are different types of search you need to optimize for? We don’t mean the difference between Google and Bing, instead, we mean the difference between text search, image search, and voice search.
If you haven’t included voice search in your SEO strategy, you could be missing out on potential patients. So, today we are going to share some important voice search tips for optometrists; to help you optimize your online presence so that YOUR practice gets recommended as the top choice.
Why You Need to Start Optimizing for Voice Search
Voice recognition technology is being incorporated into the devices we use everyday – phones/tablets/computers, smart speakers, TVs, and even cars. With the wider adoption of voice technology, voice search is increasingly becoming a more accessible and convenient way for people to quickly search for information. A report by National Public Media revealed that in 2020, 63% of Americans utilized a voice-operated assistant in the past year.
People use voice search throughout their customer journey to conduct a mix of both discovery and direct searches. Rather than typing in keywords, when people use voice search, they are either requesting a specific thing (“Siri, call Gabby’s Pizzeria”), asking questions (“Alexa, when does the post office close?”), or looking for recommendations (“Hey Google, who is the top-rated optometrist near me?”).
The audio nature of voice search means it replies to search queries with a single result – what the algorithm has determined is the best result. And how the algorithm makes this decision is by looking at your digital footprint. Good search engine optimization (SEO) is vital for performing well on voice search. When comparing voice and typed search results, roughly 75% of the results provided by a voice search will rank in the top three positions on a search results page. Studies have found that 90% of voice search ranking is determined by Google, Yelp, and Bing.
Getting Started with Voice Search Optimization Strategies
When it comes to optimizing your optometry practice for voice search, you want to start with the basics. That means building a strong foundation on the four major voice search platforms: Google, Siri, Alex, Cortana.
Google Assistant is built-in as the default on all Google products and can be accessed on any connected device, including smart speakers, TVs, thermostats, and cars. All the local business data Google Assistant uses comes directly from Google My Business (GMB) profiles, including reviews and photos. This means optimizing your business for Google Assistant is essentially the same as what you would do to improve your ranking on Google Search and Maps.
To start optimizing your optometry practice for Google Assistant:
- Claim, complete, and verify your GMB listing: https://www.google.com/business/.
- Make sure your business information stays updated and accurate:
- Business Name
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- Consistently get new Google reviews and aim for a star rating of 4-stars or higher.
- Create relevant content; posts, photos, videos, and answer any questions people ask via the GMB Questions and Answers feature.
Star ratings play a particularly important role in local voice search rankings. When someone searches for “best,” “top-rated,” or “highly rated,” Google only considers local businesses with 4-stars and higher.
75% of people with iOS devices use Apple Maps, not Google, to look up local businesses, so it is important to optimize for both platforms. Just like Google Assistant pulls information from Google My Business, Apple Siri pulls business information from Apple Maps (which is the default mapping app on all Apple devices). With Apple Maps, information about your practice is synced through your Yelp listing. You CANNOT add content directly to Apple Maps like you can on Google Maps.
To start optimizing your optometry practice for Siri:
- Create an Apple ID and claim your Apple Maps listing: https://mapsconnect.apple.com/.
- Complete your listing with all relevant/necessary information about your practice:
- Business Name
- Phone number
- Hours of operation
- Get reviews and upload photos to your Yelp listing.
Similar to Apple Siri, local business data on Alexa comes primarily from your Yelp listing. However, you can use software, like Surefire Local Marketing Platform, to submit your business listing directly to Alexa and manage it on your own.
To start optimizing your optometry practice for Alexa:
- Get started and claim your business on Yelp: https://business.yelp.com/.
- Enter complete information about your business.
- Consistently get new reviews and upload quality photos to your Yelp profile every month.
Microsoft Cortana is the default voice assistant on Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Office, and devices like Xbox and Microsoft Surface. Cortana pulls general local business data from Bing Places, while reviews and photos come from Yelp.
To start optimizing your optometry practice for Cortana:
- Get started and claim your business: https://www.bingplaces.com/.
- Note: You can import your GMB listing information directly to Bing Places and receive instant verification.
- Also, claim your business on Yelp and consistently get new reviews, and upload quality photos for your practice every month.
As you can see, your GMB, Yelp, and Bing listing are critical to ranking in local voice searches. Make sure to claim them, so you can control what information is available about your business. Keep that information accurate and consistent across your online presence to help improve your rankings. The name, phone number, address, etc. should be formatted in exactly the same way. Also, make sure to keep your business listings active by uploading photos and getting/responding to reviews.
Voice Search Tips for Optometrists
There are ways to use voice search that can boost your engagement and conversion rates by improving the user experience of your audience.
Focus On Local Search
Voice search is far more location-related than text search, where people conduct voice searches for nearby places or businesses. However, they don’t always include the qualifier “near me,” as they expect the algorithm to automatically take their location into account. As such, it is critical that you provide accurate contact and location information for your practice. It is also important to include other information, such as reviews, ratings, business hours, and payment options. Providing up-to-date, relevant information will help voice search engines index your business in a local context and make it easier for your patients to connect with your practice without any additional searching.
Research Voice Search Keywords
When creating content (be it a blog, web page, social media post, etc.), you need to conduct keyword research to know what your audience is searching for. By understanding their needs, you can then offer a solution. As you research keywords, it is important to keep in mind that the keywords people will use differ depending on if they are using text or voice search. This is because how we type and speak are two completely different things. Someone might type “LASIK vs cataract surgery,” but when using voice search, they would say something like “What’s the difference between LASIK surgery and cataract surgery?” Voice search is much more conversational and uses longer, more specific phrases.
Optimize for Featured Snippets
When you ask a question via Google search, you might have noticed a box (called a featured snippet) that sometimes appears at the top of the page that gives you an exact answer and access to further information. Featured snippets rank highest on Google’s search results pages, and are one of the best ways to drive traffic back to your website. In the context of a voice search, the featured snippet is what Google Assistant will recite back to the searcher. So, you want to create and optimize your content so that it is eligible to appear as a featured snippet.
- Perform voice search keyword research that focuses on questions that your audience will ask.
- Create content and imagery that incorporate these keywords and specifically answer the question. You make sure to keep your answers simple – the average voice search is conducted at a comprehension level of a 14-year-old.
- Make it easy for Google to understand your content by formatting it using the proper data structure.
To learn more about how to optimize your optometry practice for voice search, check out our free ebook “The Voice Search Checklist for Local Businesses”.
Your Digital Marketing Partner
At Surefire Local, our mission is to help small businesses take charge of their online marketing. To that end, we have created the leading all-in-one marketing intelligence platform that helps local businesses build their digital footprint and maximize their marketing ROI. All the tools you need to manage online listings, generate reviews, and create content are gathered in one place, making voice search optimizations easy. Schedule your free demo to learn how we can help your optometry practice thrive with the growth of voice search!