In the olden days–circa 2012, a person with a smartphone would only need to type a question or phrase into Google or similar search engine to pull up a list of answers. Fast-forward to today, AIs like Siri and Alexa – the helpful voices that occupy smart speakers along with smartphones, tablets, and laptops – have completely disrupted the way users look for and find information, products, and services they need.
Most people have smartphones these days, and the vast majority of smartphones have voice-assisted search capabilities. According to 2017 data from the Pew Research Center, a whopping 77% of Americans now own smartphones; 92% among 18–29-year-olds. This means that when you search with the sound of your voice, AIs have the job of searching for an answer to your query–which makes being at the top of Google’s results more important than ever before.
The Language of Voice Search
AI platforms are programmed to respond to queries in a human way, using the text of pages in search results to do so. For small businesses who want to ensure they are recognized in voice searches, the key is optimizing content for conversational language with clear, concise and grammatically correct answers to specific questions (such as who, what, where, when, and why.)
It’s different from typing questions into search. A user may type an incomplete sentence or shorthand phrase, such as “home improvement store boston” into Google’s search bar, but when conducting a voice search through Alexa or Siri, the user will typically use full sentences and conversational language.
Navigation and Location Searches
A vast majority of voice requests through Alexa, Siri, and similar AI technologies are related to navigation and location–which can attributed to the fact that smartphones were created to be mobile. Small businesses should consider integrating with Google Maps to increase opportunity for greater traffic for businesses with a local search presence. Also, make sure your business is mobile-friendly.
For example, a user may conduct a voice search for a “shoe repair shop near me” rather than performing a general search for top-rated shoe repair shops. AIs process the voice search query while considering the user’s location. This makes business integration with Google Maps and creating optimized landing pages with location references critical for small businesses. Voice requests lead to a SERP, which is exactly where local businesses need to rank.
Know the Intention of Your Customer’s Intentions
Get an understanding of the intent of your audience; if they’re reading your articles, whether they’re shopping online, or planning to visit your store. The intent of your customers, or the ”why” prompting their search, is what informs all of your optimizations, especially when developing website content for SEO purposes. By now, you should already be aware of the importance of creating informative content to engage your audience; however, with voice search, focus more heavily on covering specific searches that include multiple words or phrases like “jewelry stores in New Orleans” or “women’s hat with a wide brim.” Since these keywords are very specific, the competition to rank for them goes down.
Has your business begun to consider how voice search will impact your rankings? Did any of the voice search optimization tips above help you to decide what your company will work on first? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!