In today’s fast-paced world, voice search technology is gaining prominence at a high speed. It is always accessible for consumers – from smartphones to digital voice assistants in our cars and homes, it is fast becoming a bigger part of our everyday lives.
Most of us have tried using voice technology in some form or another, from asking Alexa for the latest news or asking Google about the weather. Voice search takes this concept one step further, allowing users to ask open-ended questions and hopefully get a helpful response. Smart speakers do this by turning your question into a search, and they use just a few sources for business information. Optimizing for voice search is just like optimizing for web search, and there are some straightforward steps you can take to ensure your business is accessible. Beware, though – businesses that ignore voice search optimization are virtually invisible to the over 1 billion voice searches made daily.
Understanding the voice search landscape
A 2019 Microsoft study found that Apple’s Siri and Google have the greatest market share for voice search, with 36% of respondents using each of these services, mainly through mobile devices. Amazon’s Alexa holds 25% of the market share for voice search, and Microsoft’s Cortana accounts for 19%. It’s useful to remember that users use multiple services for voice search depending on context – if you are on the go, your phone is likely the device you will use, whereas at home or in the office, you may use an Echo Dot or your computer to perform a voice search.
Start with Yelp
Your beginning point for local voice search optimization is Yelp. Yelp syndicates business data, images, and business reviews to Amazon Alexa. It also sends images and reviews to Apple Maps which Siri uses, and Bing Maps which Microsoft Cortana uses. So, yes, Yelp influences every voice search result outside of the Google ecosystem. So, it’s imperative as a business to create or claim your Yelp listing, and ensure you optimize and maintain that listing.
Next step - Bing?
Yes, you read that right – Bing is your next step for voice search optimization. Obviously, Google Assistant will use its own search engine, but Apple, Amazon, and Cortana all use Bing. Therefore, your next step is to go to Bing places for business and create or claim your business listing.
Google My Business
Your next step for voice search optimization is Google My Business, which powers voice search results for Google Assistant and the huge Android ecosystem. Be sure to create or claim your business on Google My Business to ensure your local business data, reviews, and photos are found using voice search from Google supported devices.
Apple Maps Connect
Your next step in voice search optimization is Apple Maps Connect, which works similarly to Google My Business and Bing places in establishing the location of your business for the Siri ecosystem. Remember, with 36% of the voice search share, it’s worthwhile to create or claim your business on Apple Maps Connect.
Location voice search optimization - notice the pattern?
In all the cases above, a key commonality is a location. This is because a large number of voice searches are in a “location context” in that the expected results are “near me.” Mobile devices will pass along location information with the search request to get business listings results most geographically relevant for the searcher. For example, if I remember it’s my turn to get donuts for the office – but I’m already in the car driving; I might ask, “Siri, where’s the nearest donut shop?” Your business may sell the best donuts in town and you may be nestled in a strip mall right next to the intersection where I’m waiting at a red light, but if you didn’t get your business in Apple Maps Connect, Siri will route me to the Krispy Kreme 3 miles away. Adding and maintaining accurate location information is critical to your voice search success.
Give them what they ask for
The next most common type of voice search is a direct search, where a person asks specific questions about a specific business. Questions such as, “What are Home Depot’s hours today?” or “Does Lisa’s Steakhouse do call-ahead seating?” are direct voice searches, in which the business is specifically named and an aspect of that business is requested, such as store hours and call ahead reservations. Give some thought as to the types of questions people may ask of your business, and make sure the answers are easy for a voice search to resolve. Again, curating your entries on Yelp, Google my Business, Bing Places, and Apple Maps Connect will go a long way here.
Taking the extra step to call out your business accolades, such as “best donuts in town” or Lisa’s Steakhouse serves the best prime rib” will also help pop your business to the top of voice search requests such as “who has the best donuts in town?” or “where can I get a prime rib dinner?” Yelp’s ratings help you greatly here as well.
The important thing to know about optimizing for voice search is that for your business to appear in search results, the search engine needs to think your business is a good match for the search query. Search engines only want to give searchers the best, most relevant results for their queries.
Importance of local searches
According to Google, searches for “near me” businesses have increased dramatically over the past few years. This increase in local voice search is great news for local businesses. Voice assistants like Alexa or Google Assistant determine whether your business is a good match for searches by taking into account three things for each search.
Prominence has to do with how well-known your business is. Think about the number of reviews and your ratings, inbound links, and the number of directory listings.
Your business will have a better chance of ranking high in local searches if you are located near where the searcher is searching. Make sure your business’s citation information (name, address, and phone number) are consistently updated.
This is where voice search optimization will come into play. You will need to give search engines the information they need to know so they understand when your business is relevant for certain voice search terms.
Optimize your website for voice search
Google recently announced the beta of Speakable, a schema mark-up that allows you to identify sections of your content that is most suitable for text-to-speech audio playback.
This new schema mark-up will help you to deliver news content over Google Assistant, the voice assistant used by Android devices, including Google Home. The use of voice assistants is growing significantly and this structured data mark-up will help Google Assistant and Google Home devices to deliver voice content from news websites to users.
Webpages with speakable structured data can use the Google Assistant to distribute the content through new channels and reach a wider base of users.
Voice Search Best Practices
A few things to keep in mind while optimizing your content for voice assistants:
- Remember to keep it simple and short
It is important to ensure that the content that you mark up for voice assistance should be concise. Consider working with a Voice User Interface agency like us for more support.
- Make sure it makes sense and feels natural
Imagine hearing to Alexa or Google Assistant as it reads a timeline, or goes through a collection of photo captions on your site. It would be too tiring to listen. Therefore, do not mark-up sections of your content that won’t work well with voice assistants.
- Be comprehensive
Complete all the local business listings for your company’s physical locations, whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise business with multiple locations.
Ensure each listing of your business is accurate and complete across Google, Yelp, Bing, Apple Maps, and other relevant services.
A voice search is likely referencing the information listed on these profiles to understand store hours, directions, menu options, and more.
- Study the customer intent
With the right use case in mind, you’ll have an understanding of the intent of your audience, whether they’re reading your articles, shopping online, or planning to visit your store.
The intent of your customers (the reason behind their search) is what should direct all of your optimizations, especially when creating content for voice assistants.
By optimizing content for voice searches, local businesses will be able to capture customers that could have potentially visited another business that was listed in the voice search inquiry.
With the rise of smart speakers and voice search, it’s more important than ever that your business has a voice search strategy.
Another easy way to ensure you appear in voice search is through our voice apps. Our voice applications for Alexa and Google Assistant will be easier for your consumers to find your business, and more importantly, the information will be accurate.
Want to make sure your business appears accurately in voice search results?
Want to learn more about the benefits of voice apps and voice tech? Schedule a meeting with the voice tech specialists at your convenience.
VOGO Voice designs and builds engaging voice skills for industries including education, civic, transportation, business, and nonprofits using our robust voice user interface platform that allows data integration and in-depth customization. VOGO Voice build you the best of class voice app that is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Get in touch with our professional team today to hand your citizens, customers, and workforce a high-definition voice-activated solution to keep pace with their demand.