Between Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Alexa, you’re never far away from a helpful voice willing to open a map to or tell you whether that mole looks normal. Of course, voice recognition goes way beyond your ramblings to Siri. People use it to Shazam music, dictate emails instead of typing them, and make commands in apps.
Perhaps most importantly for local businesses, voice-related search behavior has been rising dramatically in recent years. As this behavior becomes more commonplace, industry observers like Search Engine Land’s Eric Enge are predicting the inevitable “death of the search box.”
Subsequently, every industry has a chance to jump into the voice-related search market share, especially plumbing and other home services businesses that depend on a time-of-need buying cycle. The key is to optimize early on and understand the user experience.
Voice is the New Keyboard
In the past few years, voice-activated technology has become smarter. Instead of just delivering search results, these systems are calling your contacts and making appointments. This makes them considerably more valuable than a verbal keyboard. Siri might have been a hot trend five years back, but now she’s actually useful.
Meanwhile, more people are taking advantage of these voice assistants on their phones. More than 40% of adults regularly use the voice assistant feature on their phone, and 55% of teens use it. We’ve heard a lot of people say they prefer voice technology as a hands-free option when they’re driving so they can quickly hear a text or send an email without their eyes (or focus) leaving the road.
Because these technologies pull from a TTL (text to language) database, the more people use voice search, the better digital assistants will become at serving them what they want. So how can businesses get ahead of the curve?
Getting Found in a Voice-Related Search
Start by Optimizing Your Content
Voice-related search has made optimizing for long-tail keywords more important than ever as an SEO strategy. Instead of optimizing for what is known as an “exact match” keyword phrase, savvy marketers are seeing more and more traffic opportunities from conversational phrases and the questions users pose to their phones.
For example: Before the proliferation of voice-related search, a plumbing company might focus on keywords like “fix my broken pipes” or “plumbing repair,” but voice-related search has suddenly increased the popularity of full-length questions. Now brands are optimizing for phrases like “Why are my pipes gurgling?” Or “Who is the highest-rated plumbinb repair company in Orlando?”
Brands that are looking to rank highly among Siri’s answers need to make their content conversational, and answer all of the right questions. Many blogs are tapping into a journalism-oriented approach and addressing every blog with core questions: “Who, Where, What, Why, When or How?” At the very least, this technology has created a greater need for well-thought-out FAQ pages to generate quick answers.
The idea is to create helpful content that answers the questions asked by people in everyday life, instead of picking buzzwords that they would type into Google. This can only be accomplished by focusing on user experience and by anticipating the most common user queries as they relate to your business’ core vertical.
Amplify Your Local SEO Presence
Even though the search behavior may be different in terms of keyword optimization, voice-related search relies very heavily on the same local search principles that desktop searches do. Google Now and Siri pulls heavily from Google Maps, Apple Maps and Yelp, for example.
Having an optimized local SEO presence has a direct correlation with your business’ ability to appear in these mapping and review applications. This, in turn, will elevate your ability to be found in a voice-related search.
Take Advantage of Schema Data and Optimize Videos and Images
While you’re creating better content, make sure you’re keeping up with tagging and schema data on your site. While your content needs to be human-friendly and let the voice assistants know that you have the right answer, you back-end needs to be algorithm-friendly to help Siri follow the breadcrumbs.
Many industry experts have emphasized optimizing videos and images within your content. This way, when someone asks “how can I tell if my AC unit is working correctly?” Cortana and Alexa can suggest a video tutorial to run a unit health-check, instead of just listing out search results.
Even outside of voice-related assistants, Google has been working to become more of a knowledge-provider instead of a search engine. This is why more search queries provide a direct response instead of a series of links running down the page. Google, Apple, and Amazon want to become the customers go-to for any issue, whether or not it takes them past the SERPs.
Voice-Related Search Optimization for Local Businesses
When plumbers and other home services companies align their goals with Google’s, there are huge opportunities in search visibility and site traffic to be gained. So instead of fighting this trend, become an early adopter to start crushing your competition.
The LeadBuilder® SEO and Web Presence management team currently is testing voice-related search optimization for our clients. With an eye on this emerging trend, we’re taking an evidence-based approach to implementing it into our Internet marketing campaigns. Let us handle your Internet marketing campaigns if you’re looking for a forward-thinking digital marketing team to grow your leads and revenue.
Ed Valenti is a LeadBuilder® Digital Strategist. He specializes in providing real-world online marketing strategies for the plumbing, HVAC, and home services verticals of service professionals.