When was the last time you entered a search on Google? If you’re like most, you probably did a Google or voice search this morning. Or perhaps that’s how you found this blog. When your results came up, what did they look like? Depending on your search, Google may have provided you with a localized Snack Pack or Knowledge Graph. How does Google determine what SERP pages come up once you hit the enter key? A lot of it depends on you! Google’s search results are highly personalized and based on your geographical location. This is why focusing on your business’ local SEO is critical.
Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search by speaking terms rather than typing them in a search field.
To take things a step further, we want to focus on a growing search trend: voice search. Voice search is a speech recognition technology that allows users to search by speaking terms rather than typing them in a search field. The growing popularity of smartphones and other web-enabled smart devices has spurred this movement. Voice search is a crucial element of search to consider in your business’ marketing strategy. That is because voice search is most often used for making search engine queries and requesting specific information. If you haven’t considered voice search as a part of your business marketing strategy, you could be missing out on numerous clients.
Here are 5 ways to optimize your small business for local voice search.
Own Your Digital Footprint
There is a lot of information out there on the internet today. And it seems like more often than not, a lot of that information is incorrect or misleading. If you are a small business, one incorrect directory entry – like a mistyped phone number or mailing address – could lose you clients simply because they cannot reach you. Voice assistants rely on different and multiple data aggregators for answers to local search queries:
Make sure your directory publications are up to date and consistent across all platforms you are listed on. This way, no matter the device, potential customers can always find you when they search for your products and services.
Produce Content Relevant to Voice Search Needs
One way to increase your presence in local voice search is by producing content that is relevant to the needs of customers using voice search. Off the bat, think local. Mention the nearby neighborhoods or specific local areas you provide services in. (Pittsburgh specific examples include Bakery Square, East Liberty, Squirrel Hill, Homestead, Cranberry, the South Hills, etc.). Be personable and don’t be afraid to include local jargon or reference local sports teams, venues, or streets. Link to local, relevant events, activities, fundraisers, or other non-competitive businesses that your business supports or attends. Narrow in on your target audience and create a strategy based on their needs and wants. Think about their intent and the questions they may ask in regard to your products and services.
Use “Frequently Asked Questions” as inspiration for this kind of content, such as:
- What are your hours?
- What about specific holiday hours?
- Do you have certain products in stock?
- When will out-of-stock items be restocked?
- What kind of payment do you take?
- Are you running any specials or discount programs?
Reviews and Online Reputation Management: Conversational AI
Today’s customer journey is much different than the sales funnel of the past. For the younger Millennial and Gen-Z generations, reviews have become an important element when making any purchase decision. These consumers trust the opinions of their peers more than the biased marketing messages of companies. As voice search becomes more popular, so too will the need for a well-managed online reputation.
Voice assistance like Alexa and Siri are not just convenient for bringing up information results. These AI (Artificial Intelligence) assistants actually engage with us and their corresponding search engine. This conversational AI taps into SERPs like knowledge graphs and snack packs in order to provide the most accurate answer (refer back to the previous point to create content for AI and your audience). We are entering the age of conversational AI. An age that doesn’t require screens, but rather our voices and gestures (when AR/VR technology is involved). Conversational AI is changing the way your customers engage with search – leaving you with a number of opportunities!
Make Sure Your Site is Mobile-Optimized
Just because you have a website does not automatically mean it is optimized or mobile-friendly. And just because people can access your site on their phones also doesn’t mean your site is mobile optimized either. Look at your Google Analytics accounts to see where your business’ traffic is coming from. If your site gets more than 50% of its traffic from mobile, it’s time to check that you are as mobile-optimized as possible.
In 2018, 58% of site visits were made on mobile. And mobile devices made up 42% of total time spent online.
The growth of mobile correlates closely with voice search. Let’s be honest, it’s much easier to speak a query into a smartphone than to type it out. And in some situations, utilizing voice search is safer. When people are driving for instance and suddenly realize they are almost out of gas, they’re far more likely to ask their phone to direct them to the nearest gas station rather than type it in a search.
There are a few easy ways you can make sure your site is mobile optimized:
- Make your website responsive (meaning your content will change its viewing appearance based on the size of the device it is being looked at on)
- Review the actual look on the smaller devices, some responsive themes do not resize header text on images
- Don’t use Flash
- Make sure your buttons and text are large enough to read and engage with
- Compress your images and CSS
- Test your pages using Google’s mobile-friendly tool
Speed Up Your Website
Why is the speed of your website relevant to voice search? In keeping the theme with the last tip, page speed is important as mobile search continues to increase. If you think about the people that utilize voice search, you’ll be able to guess that they are looking for immediate on-the-go results. Page load time is the time it takes to fully display the content on a specific page. Page speed is extremely important to user experience. Pages with longer loading times tend to have higher bounce rates and a lower average of time spent on the page. These longer load times have also shown to negatively affect customer conversion.
There are numerous opportunities for small local businesses to utilize voice search and conversational AI. As more consumers turn to mobile, it’s more important than ever for local businesses to get their own voices heard! If you want a free assessment of how ready your current website is for voice search contact us today.