Google Voice Search is growing and you can get a jump on the competition with local optimization tactics to rank higher in search results. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced in May 2016 that 20 percent of searches on its mobile app and Android devices were voice searches. Additionally, surveys show significant increases in virtual assistant app and voice search usage in the past 12 months.
People have become more conversational with search, especially on mobile devices, as virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana, Google Voice Search, Echo, and Google Home become more popular. As voice search becomes more mainstream, we’ve seen voice search grow faster than typed search. Further growth is expected as people rely more on voice searches to multi-task while using a hands-free search tool and talking on or to their phone in public and in groups becomes more acceptable.
What is Google Voice Search and Why It’s Important in Local Search?
Google Voice Search allows you to use Google Search by speaking. It’s a hands-free way to get the information you are searching for faster. When you are in a hurry or driving, voice search is a handy mobile tool to find local results for your immediate needs.
We’ve all at least toyed with the voice search on our devices. The inaccuracy of voice recognition has been the “funny” in thousands of comedy skits. But as each improvement to Google Voice Search rolls out the speech recognition error rate has been reduced from 25% two years ago to 8% today.
And the future of Google Voice Search looks poised for further growth as they move beyond voice recognition to actually “understanding” what the user is looking for. Expect improvements and changes that foster a deeper understanding by looking at location-based context, context based on frequently used apps, previous searches, and keyword research based on spoken queries.
Local Optimization for Google Voice Search
Data analysis has shown that voice search queries are more action-based than typed queries. Meaning (in a simplified generality) we do more voice search to accomplish something, and we do more typed searches to learn something. “Where is the closest dentist?” and “What’s the best ice cream in Dallas?” are the kinds of queries driving ready-to-buy customers to local businesses. So how do you make sure your business shows up as a top option in voice search results?
Use Natural Language in Your Sites Local Content
Take a quick look at your Google Search Console report to see what queries bring people to your site. Then think about the way customers search for your products or services? If they asked a friend, used one of their virtual assistant apps, or Google Voice Search, what words would they use? That is the natural language that needs to be part of the content of your website. Headers such as “Looking for the cheapest flooring in Kansas City? KC Floors & More has it!” are likely to match the conversational queries that are used in voice search.
An even better way to weave natural language into your site content is with a Q&A page or section on major pages that asks and answers the questions customers would use in voice search queries. This makes it easy for search engines to deliver your website as a top option in search results.
Ensure Your Sites is Crawl-able and Indexed by Google
You can’t win if you aren’t in the game. For your site’s contents to be included in search results it needs to be included in the Google index. The Google index is similar to an index in a library, but instead of books, the Google index lists all of the web pages that Google knows about. To see which pages on your site are in the Google index, you can do a Google Web Search for “site:mywebsite.com.” If you want more pages included in the Google index, you can create and submit a Sitemap through Webmaster Tools.
Do Local Optimization with Google My Business and Business Listings
Google likes to push the “near me” feature, and it’s very handy when doing a map search or voice search. It shows up immediately in auto-populate drop downs for many queries. For your business, this drives purchase-minded customers directly to your door when they simply click “Navigate.” You are not going to show up in Google Voice Search “near me” results if you have not claimed and optimized your Google My Business listing.
Additionally, it is crucial that you manage your online business listings to ensure that your NAP (name, address, and phone) are consistent, accurate, and prevalent across the web. Your business listings help support the legitimacy and precise location of your business with search engines and search engine users. So not only do they bolster your ranking in Google voice search results, but in all search results as apps, virtual assistants, and smaller search engines search for the best results to give their users.
The Future is Now with Google Voice Search
As voice search grows, you can ensure that your business is showing up when customers are ready to buy, no matter where they are. Google, Microsoft, and Apple are all investing big on making voice search the first search, and by optimizing now, you can be at the forefront of the fastest growing tool for consumers searching for local businesses.
About The Author
Zach Anderson is the co-founder of Reputation Loop (helping small businesses grow by generating customer feedback and online reviews) who loves online marketing and golf.
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