VS Voice Assistants Siri, Google, Alexa

How to Get Voice Assistants to Work for You

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How well do you know Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant? Whether you have a passing familiarity with them, or know them on a first-name basis, have you put them on your business’s marketing team? According to a study conducted by Uberall in 2019, only 4% of 73,000 businesses surveyed indicated that they were voice search ready (VSR). That’s a lot of missed opportunities to improve your SEO and your bottom line! Qualified, efficient voice assistants are ready to work for you – and best of all, you don’t have to pay them! Just start asking them questions. You’re sure to like the answers!

Hey Siri, tell me how customers use voice search!

Blue Corona provides some insightful statistics on how consumers use voice search:

  • 2019 research from BrightLocal found that about 75% of smart-speaker owners search for local businesses at least once a week. The types of searches conducted include the following:
    • 54% make food and drink reservations.
    • 46% inquire about the price of a certain product from a local business.
    • 40% want to find out if a certain product is available at that business.
    • 35% book a beauty appointment.
  • Voice search queries typically fall into four categories 30% general information, 27% personal assistant, 22% local information and 21% fun and entertainment (Search Engine Land, 2016).

As to be expected, however, COVID-19 has changed consumer habits in the use of voice search. Eric Hal Schwartz – staff writer and podcast producer for Voicebot.AI – cites the Smart Audio Report published by NPR and Edison Research in noting that people are using their voice assistants more often during the ongoing pandemic than they were earlier in 2020.

“The shift is likely a result of so many people being home a lot more than they were at the beginning of January,” Schwartz writes. “There’s simply more time to use a smart speaker when you are always near it. It also suggests a positive feedback loop where using a voice assistant leads to more frequent use in the future. Two out of three voice assistant users reported that technology makes their lives easier, so the increased use is not a surprise.”

Ok Google, how can we optimize content?

Now that you know the importance of being found by voice search, how do you make sure voice assistants present your business as the answer to questions posed by potential customers? Turns out it all comes back to SEO best practices!

First, optimizing your content for voice search is essential. Doing so is basically the logical extension of what you should already be doing, which is optimizing your website’s copy for long-tail keywords. As we noted in our blog post – “How to Get Found With SEO Keywords” – Google’s current algorithm encourages users to ask questions, which favors long-tail keywords. As described by Sam Kusinitz – editorial assistant at HubSpot – a long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that aims to capture search traffic from a specific search query consisting of three or more words. Only with voice search, users are asking a question aloud, instead of entering it on a keyboard or keypad.

Writing for Search Engine Land, digital marketing entrepreneur Kristopher Jones elaborates on this point.

“As virtual assistants get smarter with every voice search … queries are becoming more conversational in nature. A person could say to Siri, ‘Show me the cheapest Italian restaurants in Scranton.’ In response, Siri might say, “Here are the best Italian restaurants near your location.’ It almost sounds like two people speaking. For that reason, optimizing content to be found by voice searchers will require you to leverage long-tail keywords such as ‘cheapest Italian restaurants in Scranton’ rather than ‘Italian restaurants Scranton.’”

Other tips from Jones include:

  • Keep your sentences relatively short, and use plain language. “People use voice search like they talk in everyday life, so go for ‘reliable’ over ‘steadfast.’”
  • Use SEMrush’s topic research tool and the Answer the Public tool to discover what queries people are asking to find their way to websites like yours, and what those queries say about people’s plans at the moment. “A query beginning with ‘what’ shows someone who is looking for information, while a person with a ‘where” query is probably closer to acting on their intent. Use this information to your advantage when generating content for voice searches.” In short, think about user intent.
  • Strive for featured snippets. Also known as position zero, a featured snippet is the information Google offers at the very top of the search results. Aptly named, it’s a snippet of content that directly answers a search query. A featured snippet is placed above the top ranking search result and displayed differently. Voice queries using Google Assistant will get a reply that reads the snippet aloud.
  • Keep in mind that most voice searches are performed on mobile devices. It’s a mobile-first world, so be sure your website has a responsive design. Otherwise, those attempting to access your site on their smartphone or iPad may just give up. Our blog post – “What You Need to Know About Mobile-First Web Design” – covers the basics.

Alexa, does voice search work for local SEO?

Very much so! Only Google Assistant may be better prepared to field this question, as it’s the only voice assistant with a program made specifically for users who are looking for local services. As Blue Corona reports, tailoring your local SEO strategy to Google Home devices is key, because Google pulls recommended local service providers from its network – which includes those verified by Local Services by Google, HomeAdvisor, and Porch.

Blue Corona provides the following advice on how to rank on Google Home for voice search – which starts with creating relevant, concise content that answers a question. Google pulls content for local searches based on three factors:

Relevance – How accurate the local listing is in relation to the user’s search.

Prominence – How frequently searched and well-known that location is.

Distance – Proximity of the listing to the user who searched for it.

“If you’re using a home assistant device in a suburb with Montgomery County and say, ‘Hey Google, I need a plumber,’ Google will use your current location and pull results from Local Services by Google, HomeAdvisor, or Porch before pulling organic results according to the three factors above. Soon, you’ll have a list of nearby plumbers in your email inbox.”

So it stands to reason that optimizing your Google My Business page is crucial for being mentioned first by Google Assistant when someone asks to find a nearby business like yours. Blue Corolla recommends continuing your current local SEO strategy, but take note of how people are phrasing their queries so that it pulls your business’s information accordingly. According to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than text search. Consider that her report was published four years ago, and assume those numbers are now even greater.

The take-home message and our blatant self-promotion

These hard-working voice assistants are ready to help your business be top-of-mind when consumers are looking for what you sell. Plus, they’ll always speak well of you and never complain! Of course, if you need some professional assistance in optimizing your SEO for voice search, our SEO team can help you achieve your marketing goals. We also provide experienced web content writing, along with our web design, website redesign and pay-per-click services.

Contact us to learn more and leave it to our pros! We’re ready to be your partner in success!


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