With the popularity of digital voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Samsung’s Bixby, consumers all over the world are searching for products and services in a new way: with their voice.
eMarketer estimates that in 2019, 111.8 million people in the US alone used voice search at least once a month, which is up 9.5% from 2018.
So, where do businesses start with voice search? How can you make it work best for your business? And how much of an impact will it have on local SEO?
In this guide, we’re breaking down the essentials of voice search and how you can leverage it in your business. Before we jump in, let’s cover a few of the basics of voice search first.
What is voice search?
Voice search is a technology that allows users to search by speaking verbally into a smartphone, smart device, or computer. It’s different from a traditional search method—or typing a search query into a search engine—in that users use their voice to perform the search. Instead of reading through search results, users are read back the results by a digital assistant.
Voice search is designed to integrate into your life and make simple things—like looking up and following a recipe or finding places like a coffee shop—even simpler. This search method has grown in popularity over the last few years, thanks to the introduction of devices like the Amazon Echo Dot and Google Home.
Because users conduct voice searches with queries that primarily start with “how,” “what,” and “best,” it’s critical to make sure you optimize your digital assets for this type of search.
Why is voice search important?
Because the way consumers are searching is evolving, so must businesses and how they optimize their digital presence.
Voice search is rising in popularity for many reasons:
- It’s convenient
- It’s faster
- It’s safer than typing in some cases, like when you’re driving
- It’s fun
A study conducted by MDG Advertising found that 77% of Americans own a smartphone, which means they more than likely have access to a digital assistant and therefore are more likely to use them. With instant access via smartphone, people are more inclined to use voice search, or at least try it.
So why is this important?
Voice search is changing the way customers search and shop online. Therefore, businesses must keep up to avoid leaving money on the table.
For example, let’s say a customer asks their digital assistant, “coffee shops near me.” They’re then shown a list of coffee shops in their area courtesy of Google or whatever search engine syncs with their device.
The digital assistant pulls information based on what’s available for the businesses (whether it’s Yelp reviews or information from the company’s Google My Business profile). Users can scroll through those results to find what they’re looking for.
Now, if your online presence is slacking—like if you don’t have your website listed on your Google My Business profile—that could prevent customers from visiting your location because they don’t have the information they need.
Because customers are now getting search results in a different format, your business will need to keep up with voice SEO best practices, which we’ll get into more detail later.
Who uses voice search and how?
Voice search usage is not exclusive to one particular age group, though it is more popular among younger consumers and households with children, according to MDG Advertising.
Those that do use voice search have made it a part of their everyday lives. In fact, 65% of people ages 25-49 use their voice-enabled devices at least once a day. What’s more, of those who own voice-activated speakers, 52% keep them in their living rooms, 25% keep them in their bedrooms, and 22% keep them in their kitchens. In other words, people are using voice search all the time, whether it’s to play music, hear the weather report, or search for a new restaurant to try for dinner tonight.
Because such a significant amount of consumers use voice search to search, research products, and even purchase products, businesses that don’t optimize for voice queries are missing out on a huge opportunity.
How can your business leverage voice search?
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every business when it comes to optimizing for voice search, but there are several things you can do to ensure you’re on the right path.
Let’s take a look at a few of the best opportunities.
Optimize your site for questions
Due to the nature of voice search, adjusting your website to cater to question-based searches is ideal. As we mentioned above, questions that start with “how,” “what,” and “best” are some of the most frequent starts to search queries. Adjusting the content on your site to reflect those words and building out your FAQ page—which could be the queries your customers are searching for, verbatim—is smart.
Use conversational language in your content
Because customers are using a conversational tone in their search queries, your content must reflect a similar tone. The more “robotic” or formal language that’s used in your content, the less of a chance businesses have in appearing in voice results. It’s essential to understand your customers’ search intent to get a sense of the types of questions your customers are asking with voice search.
Over the last few years, Google has been learning how to understand natural language better. As Google gets smarter, and conversational language is something that’s accounted for, optimizing your site and other digital properties for natural language queries is imperative.
Improve your site speed
In this day and age, businesses can’t afford to work with a website with slow load time. It’s a mobile ranking factor, meaning it’s something Google and other search engines watch out for when crawling your site.
Not only does a slow site harm your rankings from an SEO perspective, but it increases the likelihood of users navigating away from your website due to having to wait too long. Voice search results are already loading faster than typical page results. Therefore, it’s all the more important to make sure your page speed is up to par.
So how can you do this?
Fixing your page speed issue can be done by doing the following:
- Audit your site for duplicate pages
- Reduce the size of photo or graphics files and make sure they’re in the appropriate file format
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests your site makes
Embrace voice search and use it to your advantage
Voice search isn’t going anywhere, especially with the rise of digital assistants and smart home devices.
Especially for businesses with multiple locations, having a website and digital properties that are optimized to work for voice search could mean the difference between potential customers visiting your store or opting for the competition.
Not yet using Let Us Respond to manage your online presence? Contact us today, and we’ll help find the solution that’s right for you.