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How Voice Search Is Changing Local SEO

January 25, 2017
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4 minutes read
How Voice Search Is Changing Local SEO

Voice searches are much more commonplace today than they were in years past. Due in part to the rising popularity of digital assistants like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa, voice searches now constitute 20% of all Google mobile queries. Furthermore, most searches are made on mobile devices rather than desktop computers.

Given the growing number of consumers opting to use voice search, it is paramount that marketers optimize their content for these queries. Optimizing a site for voice search will be a major factor in the success of future inbound marketing campaigns. This is especially important for local businesses, since customers often locate businesses through searches like “Okay Google, where can I get my car repaired?” or “Alexa: where is the nearest coffee shop?”.

How do voice searches differ from traditional searches? Typically, voice-based queries consist of complete sentences. Furthermore, advancements in artificial intelligence mean that digital assistants can often parse user intent, keeping factors such as location in mind. The implications this can have on local search engine optimization are huge, since local businesses rely on such queries to attract customers.

How can Marketers Optimize Content for Voice Search?

First, it is important to note that voice search impacts all search engines. While Google reigns supreme in terms of the number of both traditional and voice-based queries, Bing receives a substantial number of voice searches through iOS devices. While keeping an eye on Google search results is as important as ever, marketers would be wise to track their position in Bing results as well, thanks to Apple’s mobile devices.

Voice searches are often made by customers on-the-go. Whether customers are looking for a place to eat or tickets to a movie, they often perform these queries while driving. Therefore, content should be optimized to load quickly, be compatible with mobile devices, and (most importantly) include business contact information. There are many reasons to follow these tips: Not only do they improve sales, Google also penalizes sites that do not meet these criteria.

In addition to including the business name, address, and phone number, it is wise to also include directions. By making the process of locating a business as easy as possible, marketers can maximize their chances of attracting additional traffic.

Another way to ensure that a business appears in voice search results is to keep an eye on which networks voice search pulls information from. Since sites like Yelp or TripAdvisor are frequently used in voice searches, business owners should obviously ensure that they are listed on those sites. This basic step is crucial for building an online presence that can have a positive impact on your business.

Finally, site owners should keep in mind that we speak differently than we write. In the past, site owners have tried to use unusual sentence structures and phrases in order to stuff content with relevant links. This is not necessarily the best strategy anymore. Content should include phrases that consumers will actually use during a voice search. Furthermore, content should have hyper-specific tags to indicate the city that the business is located in, since location plays a major role in voice search.

As digital assistants become more sophisticated, more users will inevitably be drawn to voice search. In order to stay competitive, local businesses must be voice-search friendly — and optimizing marketing campaigns for voice search will only become more important as time goes on. In fact, this could be the biggest factor in overcoming local competitors, and businesses who do so should see a notable boost in traffic.

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