Growth in voice searches requires detailed digital footprint

Voice-responsive digital assistants such as Siri, Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant and Bixby are becoming more and more popular.  Whether in their cars or their homes, or anytime they don’t want to look at their phone, people are asking Siri to find the “best local pizza place that delivers,” and Siri is returning tailored options. If you haven’t done this yourself, give it a try!

Recent stats show that 20 percent of searches on mobile devices are voice searches. Given the amount of investment in these technologies, we don’t anticipate that voice-search numbers will decrease. In fact, the future is looking more and more like a place where we will ask our phones and home assistants (such as Google Home and Amazon Echo) to do our searching for us.

What does this mean for search-engine optimization? How can you be the local business that Siri pulls up when someone voice searches for your services? Here are a few suggestions for making sure that your digital footprint is available for voice search.

Long-tail keywords are more important than ever.

Studies show that voice searches are generally more detailed and contain more words than regular searches. If you’re on your computer or mobile device and in the mood to do some research about where to have dinner, you might just type “pizzeria.” But if you’re on the go and using voice search, you’ll likely get more specific: “local pizza place that is open late, has vegetarian options and good reviews” for instance. When optimizing your site, it’s important to take these long-tail keyword phrases into account, including more granular information about the services or products you offer. This way, Google — and the like — will know that your business can respond to the search with a high likelihood of success.

You need highly detailed directory listings.

The search I mentioned above is a good example of how voice search tends to require granular information such as closing time, menu options, quality of reviews and more. These details about your business should not only be included in long-tail optimized content on your website, but should also be integrated into your directory properties, with your Google and Bing business listings as an absolute must for small businesses. Details such as store hours, special services, handicapped accessibility and specialties cannot be foregone. When looking for a great spot for a date that has vegetarian options and is open late, then the restaurant that has these details in its business listing will be more likely to be delivered up.

Reviews are an absolute must.

We are coming to depend more and more on reviews to make our decisions about which business to patronize. In voice search, this becomes a shortcut because we won’t want to actually read the reviews, but will just want to know if they are duds or places to avoid.

To build up a great roster of reviews, put a little effort into encouraging satisfied customers to sing your praises. Often, a Web address and a reminder is all someone needs to take this important step.

Voice search is an exciting change to the search-engine landscape that works to quickly link customers with exactly what they are looking for. Rather than typing, they’re talking!

Getting ahead of this surge will bring these talking customers right to your doorstep.

Laurie Macomber is owner of Fort Collins-based Blue Skies Marketing. Reach her at 970-689-3000.


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