With the rise of voice search on applications such as Apple’s Siri and the Amazon Alexa, your business should have a strategy for voice search and SEO. With a solid strategy, your business is more likely to be found above competitors, and because this search method is still somewhat new, it’s important to move into this space quickly to capture the first-mover advantage. This is especially important for local businesses who often compete against chain giants such as Starbucks and Walmart. Luckily, there are a number of simple and low-cost SEO-related strategies you can utilize to ensure your business is found through voice search. In this article, we’ll take a look at why you need to be found on voice search, key strategies to implement into your SEO strategy, and how to ensure your business information is accurate in these searches.

Hey Alexa, where can I get a good pizza?

We’ve all been there - our friend, family member, or significant other tells us: “you pick the place.” We might feel a little panicked or overwhelmed. We struggle to think of even one restaurant in a city full of great restaurants. To put our minds at ease, we turn to a search engine for all the answers we don’t have. Or, more recently, we’ve been leaning on our trusty personal voice assistants to answer this question.

Thinking of pizza the other evening (what else is new), I said, “Hey Alexa, what are some good pizza places in Saskatoon?” and she responded with three or four (fantastic) local pizza restaurants. She also told me I can ask her the address, hours, and other details of these pizza locations. Pretty cool, right?

Just from this example, we can see that appearing in voice search is becoming increasingly important for businesses - and I’m not just talking about restaurants. The user base for voice search is growing fast; it is estimated 50% of searches will be done through voice by 2020. Voice search includes Apple’s Siri, Google Home, and Amazon’s Alexa. These tech giants are continuing to invest in voice technology and for good reason. People want fast results, and consumers aren’t wasting time typing on their smartphones when they have a personal robot assistant within earshot.

Google reported that 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker use it as part of their daily routine and 62% of those voice-activated speaker owners said they were likely to buy something through said speaker. Voice assistants are not only giving consumers information about products and services, but they’re driving purchase decisions as well.

Your business needs to be found on voice search

And in order to be found on voice search, you need a strategy, and you need it soon. Now is the time to capitalize on appearing in voice search. If you wait, consumers using voice assistants to find businesses will likely be told to go to your competitors because Siri, Google, and Alexa might not know that your business exists.

While voice search makes for great customer experiences, it can also improve a business’s SEO, granted you are taking the right actions. And the better your voice search SEO is, the more likely customers (or voice assistants) are to find your business. It’s important to keep in mind that voice search SEO is different than traditional web search SEO. Therefore, some factors that affect website rankings may or may not have the same effect on voice search – and vice versa.

While it may not seem obvious, voice search drives brand awareness and traffic to a business’s website. When voice assistants read results from search listings, it gives sites a shout out through a simple “According to ___”. For instance, if I asked my voice assistant, “Hey Alexa, how much is a new iPhone X?” Alexa will respond “According to the top result….” Additionally, depending on the voice assistant being used, the user may be directed to a search page on their cell phone where they begin to traditionally use the search engine to look at results, increasing website traffic and organic rankings. In either scenario, a purchase, or conversion, is more likely to occur.

So how do I create a winning voice search strategy?

Voice search is different than traditional search, where a question is typed into a search engine. We often don’t speak the same way we write. Consumers will often ask more direct questions for voice search in order to get a straightforward and relevant answer.  Because of this, businesses need a different strategy for voice search. Here are four tips on how to construct your voice search strategy:

1. Use long-tail keywords

This is where writing more like a person might speak will come into play. Long-tail keywords sound more natural, like the way a person would speak, as opposed to one-word traditional search keywords. Keep the phrases short and simple and understand your target audience so that you know the questions they will be asking. Producing these types of keywords will improve SEO and your chances of being found online by voice assistants.

2. Have a featured block of content

Because the average voice search is 29 words, it’s beneficial to summarize your content or web page into an answer made up of a few sentences of 29 words or less. To optimize your content, use hashtags, lists, and bullet points. These are easily readable by Google and therefore perform well. Also, be sure to include your long-tail keywords within the featured snippet.

3. Understand your target audience

Your content should prioritize the questions your target audience would ask; therefore, a deep understanding of your target audience is necessary. Your content should answer ‘why’, ‘who’, ‘what’, and ‘how’ questions. When answering the questions you expect your target audience to be asking, be sure to make the answers direct and concise to improve ranking, while also making them conversational.

4. Focus on local searches

Twenty-two percent of voice search queries are looking for location-based content. This is good news for you if you own a local business and are looking to be found locally. In order to optimize content and be found through voice search, use phrases like “near me”, which consumers often use when looking for a product or service.

Voice search and local search go hand in hand; marketers should thus update their local SEO strategies as a means to capitalize on both opportunities. It’s also important to ensure all online business listings are up-to-date with correct information to ensure voice assistants are delivering the correct information to consumers.

Voice search will continue to rise

Voice search is still on the rise, and now you have the tools and knowledge you need to start ranking on key terms and phrases. Although voice search is still relatively new, the sooner your business appears there, the better (in order to get ahead of your competition). As competitors start to move into this space and voice search continues to change, it’s equally as important that your business has a voice strategy to adapt. As we’ve seen through many technological evolutions, marketers must continually change their strategies to keep up with what actions consumers are taking to make purchases.

Want to make sure your business appears accurately in voice search results?

Another easy way to ensure you appear in voice search is through a listings management product, such as our Listing Sync Pro (powered by Yext) product. This product pushes out data to voice applications such as Amazon’s Alexa so that it’s easier for consumers to find your business, and more importantly, the information will be accurate. Learn more about Listing Sync Pro on our website!