“Siri, how can I utilize voice search to optimize online presence for my roofing business?”
Just a few years ago, you’d attract weird attention if you were seen ‘talking’ to a phone or a small speaker asking questions like this. Times have changed, and people have changed the way they search for items on the internet.
The voice search technique has gained traction in the recent past; it is close to taking over the search world.
According to Statistica, over 3.25 billion people prefer to use voice assistants to complete their searches. Some reports indicate that the number could soar to 8.3 billion by 2023. Moreover, over 20% of all Google searches are done by voice. Potential customers from diverse age groups can use voice search as it is convenient and easy to execute.
Ultimately, if your business is keen on capturing new customers – we know you are – you need to ramp up your online optimization strategies by utilizing both conventional typed searches and modern, yet popular voice searches.
Here’s everything you need to know about why customers do voice search, the key characteristics of voice search queries, important trends, and the strategies you can use to boost your business in voice search results.
Sectors where consumers use voice search
In the past, most voice searches were in the food-related industry. However, consumers now prefer using voice search to make their purchase decisions across all industries. If you are in the home service industry, you have to optimize your business so as not to lose out on the benefits of voice search in 2021 and beyond.
Consumers can use voice search to make a general inquiry, check inventory, book appointments, check business operating hours, and sometimes close a purchase deal.
- 46% use voice search to make price inquiries of local business’s products or services
- 40% of voice searchers ask about product availability
- 32% make direct purchase decisions from a business
What actions do consumers take after a voice search?
Voice searches often translate to some action from the consumers. In most cases, after a voice search,
- 28% of consumers will place a call to the business
- 27% will likely go to the business website, while
- 19% will visit the business premises
Voice Search Platforms & Trends
It’s been noted that the most popular device used in voice searches is smartphones, while smart speakers attract the least number of users. This can be explained by the fact that almost all adults (and many minors) own smartphones and fewer people have smart speakers.
The optimization of voice searches can be understood in contrast with conventional, typed searches. First, most customers launch voice searches on more than one device.
Second, according to Bing, a customer can launch a voice search 3.7 times faster than a typed search. On average, a person types approximately 40 words per minute compared with about speaking 150 words per minute. The faster the search, the faster it is to get an answer. Customers are happy to get the information they want and close deals proficiently and quickly.
Third, voice assistants, such as Alexa, Cortana, and Siri often return answers that are in ‘position zero’ or top snippet in any search. Your business optimization strategy should be to land in position zero. With the rise in the number of people using the voice search feature, being in position zero is paramount for your business. To get prepared for the future, it is important to understand the key characteristics of voice search.
1. Voice searches are usually long and natural
In the traditional setup, people often type a few words or common phrases to find the information they want. However, with voice search, consumers pose queries in the form of questions as opposed to statements. In other words, voice searches take a conversational tone.
For instance, when using voice search, you are likely to ask “who are the top-rated Remodeling Contractors near me?” as opposed to what you would type on your computer “top-rated Remodeling Contractors in LA.”
Voice searches are also in a longer format (long-tail) and usually have the 5 Ws: what, where, when, why, and how. Voice search queries often have over seven words and are in the form of small statements and questions. As such, you need to include the Ws words in your SEO keywords to increase your chances of being in position zero in search results.
2. Local information
Over 22% of voice searches are used to find local businesses or products. People looking to find local products are 3 times more likely to use voice search compared with typed search. Notably, most consumers use the statement ‘near me’ more often in voice search compared with typed search where consumers give the specific location.
Armed with this data, your business needs to be on top of the game in terms of local digital marketing and online presence. To get the best from localized voice searches, your business should:
- Include “Near you” or “near me” phrases as keywords, anchor text, hashtags, and meta descriptions
- Optimize all locations and areas that your business serve
- Include major landmarks and famous institutions that are close to your business.
3. Consumers look for instant results.
When consumers search for information about a general topic or business, they may not click on the top links and open the links given on the first page. Most people who search for information on local businesses often have a clear motive for what they are looking for. It could be contact information, business hours, or customer reviews.
For instance, assume a consumer wants to hire a roofer in their locality. Voice search results will show roofers near them and offer contact information, working hours, and addresses among other important information. If the consumer’s interest was just the contact details, they are likely going to take the information from the Google page and move on without visiting the roofer’s website.
As such, for informational voice search, consumers are interested in immediate results. To increase the chances of your business ranking high and being visible to clients, it is important to ask your customers to leave your business reviews. Moreover, the contact information should be current, upload quality photos of your business to your website or your Google My Business account, and have your business listed in the right category. Besides, responding to your customers’ feedback politely and objectively can help improve your ranking.
Voice Search Tips for Small Business: 7 Strategies to Get Started
Now that you know the importance of optimizing your page for voice search, here are tips on how to do it:
1. Aim for position zero
Your best-performing pages should be optimized for position zero or the featured snippet. This will help your business stand out in your niche. If anything, after the voice search command, most consumers are likely to read only results around the top of the page. You need to ensure that the content published on your pages offers the most commonly asked questions accurately and in a succinct manner.
To achieve position zero, you will need to gather frequently asked questions and search terms that are common in your business. You can then use research tools to come up with a list and outline of topics relevant to your business. You can also refer to “frequently asked questions” on the Google search result page to get more search terms.
Another important strategy that can help your business get the featured snippet place is having a functional FAQ page. The FAQ page offers a list of frequently asked questions and corresponding short answers relevant to a business or industry. A FAQ page can be made more usable by using subheadings, bullet points, tables, product comparisons, and price breakdowns.
To make sure that your FAQ page has high visibility, provide brief answers to questions. You can also use SE Ranking to find if your website or the business page has earned position zero in the search results. So what if you have not earned the position zero yet? Do not stop, keep creating high-quality content, use the right key term, and make sure your content is relevant to the industry.
2. Use Long Tail Keyword Phrases
Long-tail keywords are phrases with more than 4 words. You can use Google Keyword Planner or other tools to help you find long-tail keywords for your business.
Consumers who use voice search usually speak in a sentence or phrase as opposed to few- or single-word searches. Naturally, people speak more words than they can type in a specific period. As such, voice search queries have more words/phrases than ordinary typed searches. Your business must have content that incorporates long-tail keywords that take question format to capture the searches that customers are likely to place. For instance, instead of creating content crammed with many separate keywords that may end up feeling forced and unnatural, businesses can use long-tail keywords to build content that is natural and conversational. When a consumer uses voice search to search for information, the content that has the phrase they use in their searches will be returned to them. For example, a roofing contractor could use long-tail keywords such as “professional roofers for modern houses” to target voice searchers asking, “Who are the professional roofers near me?”
3. Use natural and conversational language
If a business has website content that flows naturally and is written in a conversational tone, it is more likely to appear in voice search results. It is disastrous for a business to misread the intent of consumers when optimizing content for voice search. The growth of voice search technology has sparked an increase in conversational searches from consumers in different industries. Consumers use conversational language when they use voice-enabled devices and phones to search for information on the internet. In other words, consumers speak to these devices as if they are talking or asking a question to another person. This is a big departure from the way people use typed searches to obtain information.
Moreover, you need to keep your content easy, eighth-grade reading level. Be concise and use short sentences for your content; voice search results usually look for results that offer quick answers. You can use available tools such as Grammarly and Hemingway app to check content readability and to ensure that the content you publish is easy for people to understand.
So how do you create content that is simple and conversational? Coming from a background where people are taught strict rules of English grammar, such as to avoid contractions and that correct sentences must be full sentences, it can be tricky to write in conversational language. Nonetheless, sometimes it’s okay to swim against the tides and write conversationally as it captures how people speak naturally. The use of conversational languages helps businesses connect better with consumers in voice searches, as well as offer personal touch, unique to each consumer.
4. Create a Google My Business listing
To optimize your business and be seen in local searches, you might consider creating or updating your Google My Business page.
Google My Business is a simple tool that local businesses utilize to ramp up their online presence, and it includes maps and searches. While it is a free tool, GMB helps consumers get detailed business information online, including phone number, address, operating hours, services and products offered, business websites, among other important information.
You should have your business name and contact details (be sure to include the area code of your phone number). You may also consider having a succinct description of your business with details of the services or products you offer or plan to include in your offering list. Importantly, ensure that the information on your GMB profile is consistent with details you have fed to other directories. The description should be a quick summary of your business and no more than 400 words. Lastly, you should pick a business category or industry that closely matches the services or products you offer.
If a client utilizes voice search to get details about a business, specifically on location, contact information, and operating hours, Google can retrieve the information from the existing GMP page. GMB not only delivers information directly related to a business, but it also offers a solution to voice search users making generic queries, such as “best remodelers around here.” In case there is a Google My Business page that has details that match the search, the customer can get the business name and contact details as one of the search results.
GMB customers’ review section is also very important to businesses. Customers served by the business in the past have the opportunity to leave a review on their experiences. Voice search users can see the reviews and use them to decide on whether to pursue the business via call, a website search, or just do away with the purchase intention.
Despite being optional, the use of high-quality images that show the products and services your business offers, a gallery of projects completed in the past, and the team behind the business may help to boost your page. The use of pictures may also be instrumental in building trust and confidence among people searching for your page.
5. Speed up your website load speed
Customers who use the voice search feature are always in a hurry; after all, getting an answer quickly is the essence of voice search. Backlinko reports that on average, voice search results load in just 4.6 seconds, which compares favorably with the average page load speed which is at 8.8 seconds. Users of voice search expect an immediate answer.
Notice, page speed is used as one of the metrics to rank desktop and mobile search results. As such, a fast-loading website will rank higher in the search engine results. Website load speed influences other factors such as bounce rates and customer experiences. Ultimately, a website that is slow and has bugs significantly reduces the chance of the business appearing in a voice search result.
Always ensure that your page meets your audience’s need for speed by offering the best loading time. Tools such as PageSpeed Insights may help you analyze your loading speed and offer recommendations on how to improve it for a better user experience. Notably, it is paramount to know that mobile site load speed is more important than desktop load speed as far as voice search queries are concerned. Google indicates that over half of mobile users will abandon a site if the loading time exceeds 3 seconds.
6. Implement structured data
Structured data helps businesses understand the characteristics of the potential customers and the information they are looking for online. Schema markup assists search engines to understand and classify your page content in a manner that your potential customers can easily get to you.
Traffic analytics can help your business learn about the target customer in terms of their locations and the exact information they are looking for when they click your website. Moreover, structured data assists business owners to create high-quality SEO content by offering commonly used keywords and phrases that customers are using before reaching their intended site.
Businesses have the option to use different analytic tools including many that are free for users. One of the top analytic tools is Google Analytics, which is free and offers useful features that businesses can use to increase their position in search engines.
The use of structured data for your local business can lead to conversions because potential clients search working hours, phone number, and address for your business. You should ensure that you have listed the above information on your website for better digital presence, higher rankings, and more conversions.
7. Focus on mobile phone users
You need to know the devices that your target customers use to conduct their searches for optimal results. Mobile phones stand out as the preferred devices for voice search users.
In most cases, customers use voice search when on the move, such as when in the grocery, while driving, or just taking a walk downtown. Voice search is designed to help customers receive results without stopping to type keywords in the search bar. You can help your target customers get the information they need by investing in mobile search. First, you need to set up a mobile responsive website for your business. A top-notch web design entails adaptable and user-friendly layouts that have semblance in tablets, desktops, and mobile devices. The intention is to have a website that seamlessly adapts itself to the user’s device and offers a consistent and high-quality end-user experience.
It is paramount for businesses to undertake mobile-friendly/usability tests to ensure that their websites are properly optimized for mobile users. The business page needs to be crawlable, a feature that allows search engines to pick the site irrespective of the device used, thus enhancing exposure. A mobile-friendly website is not just recommended for businesses, but it is a necessity going forward. Statistica notes that over 52% of the world’s web traffic is generated using mobile devices.
Do not forget that your website must load fast on your target customer’s mobile devices or they might just use the next business recommendation.
Voice Search Optimization Platform
While voice search has not taken over typed search, it is surely picking up fast. It is clear that voice search queries are gaining traction and may just be the new normal soon. More and more people are beginning to appreciate voice assistants, such as Google Home, Alexa, and Siri, especially because they are not only free but easy to use. Any business not willing to optimize its website for voice search may end up losing customers and possible profits.
And yes, it requires some hard work to have your website fully optimized for voice search. The strategies discussed above should help you get started, and be a leader in your industry. Moreover, your business may just engage the services of professionals to get this done. You can pick an experienced digital marketing agency that focuses on SEO, web designs, and optimization to assist you to optimize your website faster and reach your target customers more efficiently. Reach out to Surefire Local to learn more!