The rise of voice search and why it matters to your local business

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  • Why it Matters to Your Local Business

    The rise of voice search

If you own or manage a business with brick and mortar location such as a restaurant, spa or dental office, it has become key to stand out and attract customers searching online for local businesses and services like yours.

Yet at the same time, the local online search world changes and evolves at such rapid pace that it is almost impossible for a small business owner or manager to keep up with all these changes and apply the right online marketing strategies.

There are few trends that are important to understand to stay competitive and attract local customers. One of these key trends is dramatic growth of  Voice Search.

But first how voice search works in the context of local search?

In a nutshell a voice search query happens when instead of typing your search query, you use a voice-search enabled digital assistant such as Siri  or OK Google to perform the query.

For example:

What is the best Italian restaurant in Irvine?

Who is the best orthodontist in Miami?

In return, the voice assistant will give you the results to that query.

Voice search assistants also are growing in popularity as voice-activated speaker-like devices that can listen to commands and control home automation. But for purposes of enhancing your local business online presence and given that 84 percent of consumers perform local searches,we will focus on how this technology impacts local businesses.

Source: Search Engine Land

 

Why voice search matters to your business?  Don’t people just type a search on their phones or computers?

Google CEO SundarPichai announced that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches. At the same time, a research performed by ComScore says that within the next 4 years, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches.

Given the growth of voice search and how it can affect local businesses it is important for your business to have an optimized local online presence and take some basic measures to help customers find you.

How are these results different form the ones on desktop or mobile that are not performed via voice search?

Voice search queries tend to be longer than text queries potentially given that we tend to use a more natural way of speaking to our phones that we do by typing. This includes using question phrases – what, where, who, how and when types of questions.

I run a little experiment to see how these results differ and to explore how you can better optimize your local business online presence for these types of searches. Here is what I found:

Let’s go back to my original examples and see the results:

Who is the best orthodontist in Miami?

Voice Search results on iPhone’s Siri:

Here you can see that Siri shows some major love to Yelp and Yelp reviews are prominent as well as an important ranking factor:

When it comes to Google, the current king of local search, the results are different.

Here the results are quite interesting, specially when compared to what your customers will find if they perform a typical search (not a voice assisted one) on desktop or mobile.

Voice Search on Ok Google:

As you can see here, all the top results show Google Adwords.

  

Google Search on Desktop and Mobile (not a voice search query):

The results display 1-2 Google Adwords followed by results from Google Maps.

   

In categories that are less competitive when it comes to Adwords campaigns such as restaurants the results are the same or very similar on both voice search and typed search queries. These results are predominantly based on local optimization strategies including online reviews, citations and your Google My Business listing information.

What simple steps can you take?

Even though tactics for local search can be complex and continually evolve over time here are a few recommendations to get you started:

1-Claim and complete your Google My Business profile: Google shows top results primarily from Google Maps listings or Adwords. If your business is not listed on Google it will simply not show on the maps results section. Also, take time to complete your business information such as address, hours, website and business description.

2-Get a reviews strategy in place: Reviews play a very influential role in whether a customer will visit a business or buy a product for the first time. Have you ever found yourself reading the reviews of a restaurant before deciding if you should go there for dinner? Or reading book reviews on Amazon before deciding if you should purchase that book? Chances are your potential customers also read what your customers say about your business.

At the same time, reviews are an important local raking factor and as you can see in the examples. With both Siri and OK Google, customers will see number of stars and reviews predominantly.

There are many ways you can start a reviews strategy for your business:

  • Remind customers to leave you an online review.
  • Make visible where they can find your business online. For one of my customers, I created some nice branded signs that said: “You can find us on”, followed by the icons and links to where customers could find them online such as Facebook, Google and Yelp. These signs were strategically placed in different areas at their location.
  • If you want to automate the process, check out services such as GetFiveStars.com. This platform helps you automate the customer feedback process to capture testimonials and online reviews.
  • Remember to engage in a positive and cordial manner with customers (whether their review is 5-stars or not).
  • Give top quality customer service. No reviews strategy in the world can help a business with poor customer service. If you have amazing productions/services and constantly strive to give your customers the attention they deserve, they will be happy to continue to give you their business… and reviews!

3-Build your local citations: Citations are mentions of your business name and address on other webpages such as local listings. Add your business to key local online listings for build your local citations authority. This practice is an important local ranking factor that can be built and improved over time.

4-Get a responsive website (if you don’t have one yet): Responsive websites have layouts that adapt to the device your customers using.These types of websites make the experience much better for your potential customers. In a time when customers have a very short attention spam, if it is not easy and almost seamless for customers to navigate your website and find the information they are looking for, chances are they will navigate away and continue searching.

5-Optimize for long-tail keywords: Long-tail keywords are longer and specific keyword phrases that visitors tend to use when it are further along in the purchasing process which means they are ready to make a purchase or to visit a business. Given that voice search has a more “conversational tone” is important that you pay attention to your own customers’ questions and conversational speech when it comes to your products and services. Then you can optimize both some of your ad campaigns as well as pages on your website for these type of searches.

Now you know how voice search works in regards to local businesses and how to take effective key steps to start optimizing your online business presence for this key trend.

Best of luck!

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