Do you have an SEO strategy? Maybe not. But you likely know that SEO (Search Engine Optimization, aka ‘getting found on Google’) is an important part of your business getting seen on the internet.
Things change often with search engines so it’s good to have an agency, guru, or SEO expert at close hand. If you can’t afford one of those things for your business, you’ll have to do it on your own and stay abreast of all of the changes. One of those changes you should be considering is how voice search is impacting SEO.
Voice search is increasing with greater use of mobile and the increase in access to artificial intelligence (think ‘Alexa’). If you have a business that focuses on local clients or customers, voice search is incredibly important as local searches are 3 times more likely to be voice searches than text.
But exactly what’s different between voice search and keyed search?
Plenty. Here’s what you need to know and the changes you need to make to what you’re already doing:
4 Ways to Optimize for Voice Search
Consider Placing for Questions or Phrases
In voice search, most people ask a question or make a statement surrounding a need. For instance, “Where’s the nearest taco place?” Think about what sorts of questions people would ask to find your business. Then create content around those questions. For example, someone might request “Best dog groomer in Nashville.” Write a blog post under that title. Write a review of several different places where you can get your dog groomed from doing it yourself to a portable groomer to your business.
Offering other ideas besides just your own business makes you a reliable resource. However, there’s no need to directly mention the competition. Speak in generalities of the competitors unless you find that people are often searching for you and your nemesis. For instance, if there’s a rivalry between your hot dogs and another place in town, mentioning them directly could help you “steal” some of their search results.
Use the Right Language
There are regional ways of saying things (not accents) and naming items. Just listen to a comedian making fun of their hometown. For instance, some parts of the Midwest refer to washcloths as wash rags and vacuums as sweepers. If you sold those items and wanted to rank for them locally, you may consider using those local terms.
Also, while it might be hard to rank for some terms like “pizza restaurant,” it might be easier to rank for “best pizza place near me.” Most voice searches will use less formal terminology or language because voice search is based on how people talk. And when they talk to search or their virtual assistants like Siri, Google, or Alexa, they speak like they’re talking to someone they know. They don’t speak formally the way they might when looking something up online.
Localize the Search
Wherever possible, if you serve a community (meaning people in town come to you for your service or product and you’re not an internet business serving all areas), mention the areas you serve. Not only will this clear up any confusion but it will also help you rank in that area. But don’t simply state the name of your town over and over. Any bot can do that. Pepper in things about your town that will help people and search engines recognize you really are serving that area. For instance, if you are a carpet cleaner you might add content to your website that asks, “Having people in for the Waynesville Sauerkraut Festival? You want clean floors. We can help.”
This type of personalization is best used when switched out throughout the year. Websites were never made to be stagnant. Remember to refresh content on a regular basis.
Become More Verbose
When typing in a search, most people use 2-3 word phrases. Voice search is much longer, 5-7 words. You’ll want to keep this in mind when optimizing your content. It’s important to do some search research to find out how people are searching for things that you provide. When it comes to voice, they tend to be more long-winded and describe what they need than when they’re texting it.
If you’re concerned about search engine optimization–and you should be–it’s important to consider how search is changing that, especially if your customers are largely local. Create content and optimize your web copy around how people speak and the questions they’d ask to find you. It’s well worth the time investment to do it now rather than wait until your competitors do it.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. Christina’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.