When it comes to voice search, what you don’t know can hurt your business in more ways than you can probably imagine. Granted, that may sound dramatic, particularly if you’ve only ever used voice search technologies, like Google Assistant, to order pizza on a lazy Sunday afternoon. After all, how could not knowing how to order something like pizza using voice tech hurt your business?
Here’s the thing. Your customers also speak into their phones or to their home assistants to order things, but that’s not all they use voice tech for. They also use it when they’re searching for a plumber, a new roofer or a dependable contractor. In other words, they could potentially be using voice search technology to find your business or one like it.
Whether these potential customers find your business when they use voice search technology to search Google really all depends on you and whether or not you’ve made your website voice-search-friendly. If you have, then you’re golden. You get their business. If you haven’t, then your potential customers are going to your competitors’ websites instead of yours, and that really can hurt your business. Fortunately, you don’t have to leave this to chance. There are steps you can take to make your website friendlier to voice searches, and in the process, ensure that potential customers find your company’s website before they find your competitors’ sites.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this blog post:
- How local searches and online shopping influenced voice technologies
- What’s behind this growing trend
- How voice search is different from conventional web searches
- What you need to know about voice search optimization
- Other content considerations
Let’s get to it!
How Local Searches and Online Shopping Influenced Voice Technologies
Usually, when people search for something via a mobile device, they’re looking for something local, like a trusty contractor near them. They might also be on their way to the grocery store when they remember that they needed to schedule an appointment for a roof inspection. Being able to use voice search technology allows them to search the web without getting their hands involved. Most importantly, when people undertake a voice search, they’re often ready to spend money because they suddenly have a broken pipe that needs to be fixed or one home project that needs to get done before they can move on to the next one. Time is of the essence.
Here are some stats to consider:
- Nearly 60% of web searchers have utilized voice search technology to locate a business in their area within the last year.
- Fifty percent of those local searches are performed on a smartphone or similar device and lead to an in-store visit within a day or so. Many will use their phone’s voice search function to start these searches.
- By the year 2022, voice-search shopping is expected to reach $40 billion.
- The words “best,” “how,” and “what” are the top three keywords that voice search users use in their searches.
- The voice search market has exploded: By the second quarter of 2018, the global market for these technologies grew 187%.
SEO professionals and web developers who want to capitalize on this important trend create content that’s friendly to voice search technologies, like Google Assistant. From the SEO professional’s standpoint, this might mean writing a specific kind of blog post or trying to leverage their Google My Business listing. Similarly, the savvy web developer in this equation will write code that works with Google Actions.
Whether it’s the SEO or the web developer, the goal is the same: to attract more people via better rankings in local search results.
What’s Behind This Growing Trend?
We are living in an increasingly busy, impatient world that’s made even busier and more impatient by the advances in technology (ironically). Voice technology is a prime example of this.
Most people would tell you that they like to use voice search technology for a number of reasons.
- If they’re driving, they can drive hands-free.
- If they’re cooking, they don’t have to dirty up their phone or laptop to search for a recipe.
- Voice search tools are more fun and easier to use as there is no typing required.
- The results are immediate, which is an important consideration if you’re out looking for something time-sensitive, like home repairs.
At the end of the day, voice search technology is more convenient to use, and in some instances, like when you’re driving, it’s safer, too, because it’s hands-free.
How Is Voice Search Different From Conventional Web Searches?
If you’ve been doing SEO/SEM longer than just a few minutes, you understand how important it is to optimize the language you use on your website. You already know that by using the right keywords or keyword phrases, you’ll attract more potential customers. It’s an important part of a local marketing strategy.
Voice search optimization includes full questions and is very conversational because when people speak verbally, they speak conversationally, even when they’re talking to their smart devices. This is best explained by an example. In traditional SEO, the person searching the web will input something like this:
However, someone doing a voice search on their mobile device will be likely to say something like this:
Hey, Google: Who is the best window replacement contractor near me who’s open right now?
On average, traditional SEO web searches include one to three words. Voice searches include between seven and 10 words, phrased as questions or statements. Notice as well that the words “who” and “best,” two of the most-used words in voice search, appear in the example search question.
While this technique does involve using long-tail keywords, it’s much more than that. It’s best to think of those doing voice searches as people who talk to their device like they talk to a friend. Their web searches are phrased as such. It’s also important to point out that by their nature, voice searches imply intent. They give you more of an idea of why people are searching for what they’re searching for.
From your perspective, this is a dream. One of the biggest tricks of successfully marketing or selling anything is trying to figure out why people want what they want. Knowing this information allows you to tailor your marketing materials and in-person sales pitches accordingly. In turn, if you are successful, it means you land more customers.
What You Need to Know About Voice Search Optimization
Just as you can optimize your website for traditional web searches, you can also optimize it for voice searches. In particular, you can create strategies that will allow you to rank better in local search results. The first step you’ll want to take is to figure out what people say when they talk about you, your business or your industry.
- Do you run a local roof repair business that has existed in your area for 25 years?
- Is it located at a major intersection or near a well-known landmark?
- Do you have to drive past or through different neighborhoods to reach it?
- Is it open during “off” hours as well as regular 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. business hours?
- What are some other local businesses or organizations that would be relevant to your business? For example, do you have a partnership with the local YMCA’s youth job training programs?
Whatever it is that people say to describe your roof repair business and its position in the community needs to be written on your website somewhere.
It could be that you answer some of the questions that people ask on your FAQ page. This is actually helpful because voice search results favor short responses of between 29 and 41 words. This is important because Google will very often use single questions and their answers in its snippet function. These answers are usually short, sweet and to the point.
Here’s an example of a voice-search-friendly question that you could put on your website as well as an answer to it. It’s the kind of answer Google may turn into a snippet.
Where can I find a trustworthy contractor in [my town] that’s open on the weekends?
All of our locations here in [insert city name] offer weekend hours. We’re one of the few home contracting companies in town that offer this. We have three locations in the valley at [name here], [name here] and [name here]. It’s likely that one of these locations is near you.
Other Content Considerations
There are a few more elements to keep in mind as you’re developing content for your site to make it friendly to local voice searches.
- Be sure to use filler words, like “I,” “your,” “if,” etc. Remember, your voice-friendly searches will be more conversational, and in conversation, people use these words.
- Do what you can to get more reviews on sites like Yelp. Four- and five-star reviews help you when someone does a “best” search, like “best home contractor in my city.”
- Be sure to leverage your Google My Business listing.
- Use a lot of white space and short paragraphs. People read the headlines. Only about 5% of people read the whole content.
- Get your web developer to create code that works well with Google Actions.
- Continue to use long-tail keyword phrases in your content as well.
- Include location identifiers, like your business’s name, address, phone number and an embedded map.
We’d like to mention one final point. While it’s important that you have a comprehensive FAQ page, it’s also important that all of your content be localized in some way. FAQs do lend themselves to the possibility of Google creating a snippet from your content. That being said, good voice search optimization strategies turn every page of your website into a landing page. One way to do this is to answer your audience’s questions more in-depth in your blog posts. Not only does this allow you to rank better in local search results, but it also helps you come up with consistently useful content that your customers will appreciate.
If they appreciate you and your goods and services, they’ll buy from you consistently, leave you good ratings on Yelp and share your content. This, in turn, ensures that your local marketing efforts become easier over time as they become friendlier to voice searches.
Don’t miss out on local voice search traffic. Contact us to learn more and request a demo that shows you how to create hyper-local, voice-friendly marketing strategies to bring more traffic to your website.