Voice Search - What It Means for Local Businesses


July 10, 2017 By

Cheryl Dykstra

The rise of virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana and Alexa is changing the game when it comes to local search engine optimization with one little thing… your voice.

If your business relies on local search traffic, this will definitely impact your strategy.

What is Voice Search?

Voice search is a growing trend that has really started to take off with widespread adoption of virtual assistants like Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant – all of whom perform web searches automatically if they’re unable to provide an answer natively.

In 2016, conversational AI company MindMeld surveyed smartphone users in the US, finding that 60% of users who used voice search had started using it in the last past year – indicating rising adoption rates. This is backed up by Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, which found that Google voice search queries in 2016 are up 35x over 2008, now making up 20% of searches made with the Google Android app.

Voice search has been refined since its early days. Today, Google’s word accuracy rate is over 90%.

With its increasing reliability and convenience of being easy and hands-free, voice search is rising; and your business needs to be prepared.

For now, voice search still utilizes the traditional search channels, though some favor particular sites. For example, Google Assistant prefers Google search results, Siri uses Bing, and Amazon Echo utilizes Yelp’s database for local service providers, retail and restaurants, as well as reviews to formulate its responses.

How Does Voice Search Impact Search Traffic?

More “natural language” searches

The biggest change with traditional searches and voice searches is how they are formatted.

Traditional typed searches usually include keywords, such as “Best Buy hours.” Voice searches tend to be full, grammatically correct sentences, such as “When is Best Buy open on Saturday?”

In fact, Google is currently working to better accommodate these so-called ‘natural language’ queries. At the Google I/O developer conference last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed Google Assistant’s ability to handle follow-up questions without the need to re-state the context.

More mobile searches

Although the functionality exists for desktop voice search, it doesn’t make as much sense as it does for mobile.

Voice search is best utilized when you need to be hands-free, which is why Higher Visibility found that over half (53%) of those that used voice search used it when driving, and another 21% used it when doing another activity.



More searches with local intent

Along with more mobile searching, people who are utilizing voice search have also been found to be searching locally more often. In fact, according to Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016, mobile voice-related searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text-based queries.

How to Adjust Your Marketing Strategy for Voice Search

There are a couple steps you’ll need to take in order to tailor your local SEO efforts to accommodate voice searches. These include:

1. Target long-tail and natural language keywords

In order to optimize your website for voice search, think of how someone might phrase questions people may have about your business or industry and how you can answer them.

Creating an FAQs page is an easy way to optimize for this, as it both asks and answers the most relevant queries for customers.

2. Optimize for mobile

We know we talk all the time about how important having a responsive website design is, but seriously… we mean it.

Mobile-friendliness has been a ranking signal since 2015, but it’s particularly important for businesses who receive local search traffic from mobile users.

3. Establish relevancy for local SEO

Beyond any fancy SEO advice, Google needs to know where you are and that you’re real. To establish relevancy with Google (and other search engines) here are a few basic musts:        

  • Verify your Google My Business listing. Include long, unique, and correctly-formatted descriptions that include links to your website. Make sure to fill it out as much as possible including photos, hours of operation, a phone number, and a business address that matches your website.
  • Use consistent NAP (name, address, phone number) across the web. Use the exact same business name, phone number, and address as it displays on your website and Google My Business listing on any listing on the web. It must be exact.
  • Work to gain positive reviews. These reviews not only affect your search rankings, but also your brand reputation. Both are influential in getting new customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about optimizing your website and online presence for voice search, call us at (407) 682-2222 for a free consultation with one of our marketing experts.

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