Voice Search: The Largest Influencer of Local SEO
Voice search is expected to dominate in 2019, and the time for local businesses to optimize for it is now
Not long ago, someone asking their watch for directions to the closest sandwich shop would have been considered a futuristic, Dick Tracy kind of move. But today, you can talk to almost anything and expect a practical answer. Your car, phone, and even your house is just waiting for you to voice a burning question so they can step up to the plate and assist.
This phenomenon is called voice search, and it is quickly changing the world. In simple terms, voice search can be defined as the act of generating search results by speaking into a device instead of typing keywords into a query. According to Google’s predictions, half of all search queries will be voice-activated by 2020, and the time to optimize for this new wave is now.
Most users use voice to help them find something local-based, and voice queries made on mobile devices are three times more likely to be location specific than a desktop search.
Why is a local search intent the driving force behind most voice searches? Generally speaking, voice search provides immediate and tailored answers for the user, who is usually out and about and looking to fill a time-sensitive local need.
This is a huge shift for businesses that rely on local search traffic, and while it creates more opportunity for visibility, it’s important that a company’s digital presence is optimized appropriately.
Here are ways to optimize for voice search and improve local search rankings
Include conversational content
The most notable difference between a voice search and text search is the tone being used to ignite them. Text searches usually include keywords only, whereas voice searches are mostly complete, grammatically-sound and conversational sentences.
For example, someone looking for the best local brunch spot may type, “best brunch Denver”, but when using their voice to search, they may say something like, “Where can I get the best brunch in Denver” or “What are the top brunch spots near me?”
To make sure that your content is adjusted for mobile search, try to be preemptive about how someone would search for you and incorporate those longer, more natural phrases into your content. There are even free tools available to you, like Ubersuggest, which generates alternate long-tail keyword suggestions for variation.
Create a robust FAQ section
An FAQ section is an effective place to incorporate your long-tail keywords, as it provides an opportunity to both ask and answer the most popular voice queries. The trick is to keep both the questions and the answers as conversational and natural as possible.
Phrase the questions using why, who, what, and how, and directly respond to them in the same manner that you would if you were face-to-face with the user.
You can also check out Answer the Public to gain more insight into what your customer’s may be asking.
Fortify your local SEO presence
Ensuring the health of your businesses’ local SEO is a crucial component to being found via a voice search. Here’s what you want to do to insure your good standing:
Consistent name, address, and phone number (NAP): Your company’s NAP needs to be correct and consistent across each one of your online profiles. This was listed as the second most important local search ranking factor, second only to having a business in the location you’re trying to rank.
Verify your Google My Business: Google My Business is an interface that allows businesses to dictate what information is displayed on the search engine results page (SERPS). It gives business owners exposure to users that may not have found them otherwise, and ensures that only the correct information is displayed.
Positive customer reviews: These have been shown to improve your search rankings and give potential customers a proverbial push in your direction.
Optimize for mobile:
Now that the majority of local searches are being performed on mobile devices, you can’t forget to focus on the mobile user experience. While content and strategy are invaluable components to improving local search rankings, they won’t take you far if the mobile version of your site isn’t optimized appropriately.
If you want mobile search traffic to convert to leads, your website needs to be fast. In this case, fast means it needs to load in under three seconds. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is here to help you optimize loading times if you need it.
You also need to make sure that your mobile site is responsive, or in other words, displays appropriately regardless of the device that is being used. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool can be used to test your site’s mobile compatibility if you are unsure.
Although voice search is a substantial development in the world of SEO, it is a positive one.
Users are growing more accustomed and comfortable using their voices to ignite local-based searches, and this type of browsing is only expected to rise in popularity moving forward. Businesses who optimize for mobile-based voice search now will stay ahead of the game and maintain a competitive advantage.
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