Each year, voice search becomes a bigger deal. First, it was voice assistants on our phones. Now, it’s smart speakers taking up residence in living rooms across the globe. With more devices encouraging us to search with voice, it’s important for businesses to be thinking about the benefits of voice search.
And those benefits are significant. Businesses who know how to leverage voice search technology can stand out in the crowd and get found by a whole new audience at just the right moment.
1. Local Businesses Thrive in Voice Search
Voice search is taking up more search real estate across the board, but it’s particularly relevant for local search. One survey found that 58% of consumers used voice search to find local business information over the course of a year.
That number is even greater for voice searchers using smart speakers. Seventy-six percent of consumers who use smart speakers for search said they undertake local searches on their device weekly, with more than half of them using a smart speaker daily.
2. Voice Search Happens On-the-Go
That same survey found that most consumers are using voice search from their smartphones – although as smart speakers gain popularity, I’m sure we’ll see that number rise, too. And when you think about use cases for voice search, it makes sense: If we’re lounging on our couch, we have the time (and free hands) to key in our search. However, when we’re on the move, that’s not so easily done.
We use voice search when we’re running to catch the train or are already behind the wheel of our car. We use voice search when we’re trying to sneak in a few quick errands at nearby stores between soccer practice drop-off and pick-up. Or we use voice search when we’re almost out the door, and we toss a last-minute request to Alexa on our smart speaker.
In short, a lot of us use voice search when we’re already on-the-go. Voice search becomes the way to reach consumers immediately before they’re ready to make a purchase decision.
And, even though many of us aren’t on-the-go like we once were right now, we’re seeing more and more states begin to reopen and people returning to work, so it’s important to prepare for a return to the normal routine.
If you can stand out in voice search, you can see instant results. In fact, surveys have found that following a local search on a mobile device, 88% of consumers will either call or visit the business within 24 hours.
3. It’s the New Frontier
Voice search still feels like uncharted territory for many brands. Some don’t know how to approach a great voice search strategy, while others don’t yet think it’s worthwhile to invest in one.
Whatever the reasoning behind it may be, a lot of brands are failing when it comes to voice search. A recent study found that even giant brands like Target, Starbucks, and TJ Maxx were struggling to optimize their online presence for voice search.
So, what does this mean for local businesses? It means there’s a tremendous opportunity. If you can figure out your voice search strategy now, while it’s still early in the game and the competition is struggling to get their ducks in a row, you can dominate in results. And you won’t just find yourself outpacing other local businesses – you’ll also have the chance to land ahead of those household name brands.
4. Voice Assistants Look Beyond Your Website
Voice search SEO and traditional SEO are not the same. While there is certainly some overlap, the way voice assistants pull results and information is inherently different from the way consumers experience results on traditional SERPs.
That difference comes from the format in which results are presented. Voice assistants read off options one at a time to consumers, whereas on SERPs, you see the top 10 results presented on a single page.
Consequently, the way voice assistants settle on what information to share is different from traditional search performance factors. Voice assistants take things like local listings, ratings and reviews, local social media pages, and featured snippets into consideration. When you build up a comprehensive online presence, you can stand out in voice search.
5. Your Location & Reviews Matter
Depending on the query a consumer runs, the voice search results will vary. For example, the question, “Siri, where can I get coffee near me?” will generate very different results from, “Siri, where’s the best coffee near me?”
Yes, they both take location into account. But the former will prompt the voice assistant to weigh location more heavily, whereas the latter encourages the assistant to look at ratings and reviews as the primary factor. Try it for yourself on your smartphone or speaker! You’ll notice the difference in results immediately.
That’s why it’s important to optimize your online presence for both of these factors. Make sure that all of your online assets clearly state your business’s location or your service area. Your address should be on every page of your website, across all local listings sites, and included on your social media profiles.
Generating a healthy number of positive reviews across local listings sites like Yelp, Google My Business, and Facebook can also help you stand out in those local searches where quality is a factor. Don’t just rely on one local listing site to house the reviews for your business; because factors for search engine result performance are constantly shifting and never fully revealed to the public, it’s best to make sure you have a robust presence across all relevant local listings sites.
Most local business owners understand the importance of SEO, but some haven’t yet started to think about SEO as it relates to voice search. The fact of the matter is that there are many benefits to voice search. When it’s done correctly, it can help your business get found and leave your competitors in the dust.
If you’re looking for help optimizing your online presence to dominate in voice search results, we should talk.