“Alexa, How Do I Optimize My Business for Voice Search? “
Voice Search refers to whenever someone searches for something simply by talking to their device instead of typing out their search query. It can be done on both desktop and mobile devices, usually requiring a ‘wake’ phrase to tell Google to being listening such as “Ok, Google” or the name of the specific device they are using to voice search such as “Alexa.”
According to a 2018 study on the use of voice search it was found that well-over half of all consumers (58%) used voice search to find information on local businesses. As of 2018 voice search shopping was responsible for $2 billion in sales, this is expected to grow to $40 billion by 2022.
To stay competitive in the changing technological business landscape it is important that small businesses and startups include being optimized for voice search as an essential part of their marketing and content strategies.
How Voice Search is Used
Voice Search is Conversational
In comparison to traditional online searched voice-search is much more conversational, sounding similar to how it would if they were asking a real person a question. For example, if you’re looking for a good place to get Pizza near you a traditional typed search may just say ‘pizza near me’, while a voice search is likely to be a full sentence like; ‘What is the best pizza place near me?’
Voice Search is Accurate and Specific
It wasn’t that long ago that early versions of voice search and voice command programs would get confused easily by the pronunciation or words of accents of the person giving the voice command, that isn’t the case today with Google’s current voice-recognition system boasting a 95% accuracy rate for the English language.
This means that whatever it is your potential customers are looking for Google is going to be able to understand what they are asking for and come up with the most relevant answers to their question so it’s important that you are set up properly to come up as the answer to their questions whenever possible.
Voice Search is Convenient
Voice search can be used for all the same things that a regular search can be used for. Some of the common search types people use voice search for that may be relevant to your business are to check availability of certain items, make an online purchase, order food, or make a reservation at a restaurant.
How to Optimize Your Business’ Online Presence for Voice Search
Claim Your Google My Business Listing
As part of optimizing you business for search engines you’ll want to make sure you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing. Make sure the information listed there including your hours of operation, phone number, business name, and industry, etc. is all accurate and up to date.
You should also add some high-quality images of your business. This will help present your business in a good light and create trust in people who find your business online.
You’ll notice that your Google My Business listing shows a star rating out of five, when you first list your business the start rating will be completely blank. Having no rating can be just as bad as having a low-rating as it makes it look like no one goes to your business or uses your service. To get some ratings encourage customers to leave a rating for your business on Google. If you end up getting a negative review see if you can politely reach out to the person who left the review and check to see if there is anything you can do to change their mind.
Optimize Your Website For Speed and Convince
According to Google 53% of mobile users will abandon a website if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. To meet your audience’s expectations for a fast response time you’ll want to make sure you website loads within a couple seconds. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights tool to see how fast your site is currently loading as well as get tips on how to speed it up.
It is also important that your website is laid out in a way that is convenient for users, with all the most useful information readily available. People shouldn’t have to feel like their going through a scavenger hunt just to find out your location, hours of operation, or how to contact you – make sure information like that is readily available on your website.
Use Natural Language
As mentioned, search query’s used before voice search were mostly point-form keywords, so if you wanted to know Harrison Fords age you’d type “Harrison ford age” into google, with voice search people tend to ask full questions like “how old is Harrison ford?”, this means that voice search results tend to be more likely to pull up website results with full natural sounding sentences than they are point form notes.
Keep your website at an easy reading level. Use short sentences and concise writing; voice search results typically look for quick answers. You can use online services such as the Hemingway app to check your contents readability score and to make sure your content is easy for everyone to understand. A good rule of thumb is to write your content in a way that would be understandable at about an 8th grade level.
Encourage Customers to use their Alexa’s (and Siri’s, Google Home’s etc) to order products and services through you rather than the big chains like Amazon or Walmart.
When someone uses their device to order something what they usually say is something like;
“okay google, order coconut oil”
this then automatically processes the order through whichever service they have previously setup, Amazon being the most common one.
One way you can circumvent this is to let your customers know that they can order from you online by saying to their smart device something like:
“okay google, email _____________ and say ‘send me a new tub of coconut oil.”
This way you can get emails of new orders and respond to them with an invoice. While this alone may not dramatically increase sales it at least gives customers the option of ordering through you rather than through Amazon or another competitor.
Voice search is gaining more and more popularity by the day and has all but eclipsed regular search as the primary way in which people use google and other search engines.
While it may take lots of hard work to make sure your business is fully optimized to take advantage of voice search this change in how people are searching the internet does provide a lot of opportunity for forward-thinking businesses to being to outperform their competition by being the first ones to effectively optimize their website and online listings for voice search.