Are Small and Local Businesses Ready for Voice Search?

netsertiveBrands and retailers are finding new methods of reaching consumers every day, and recently, voice search has been at the forefront of this conversation. The popularity of voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have grown exponentially due to their ease of use and simplicity. In fact, a recent study by Gartner predicted that by 2020, 30 percent of online browsing sessions will be voice-conducted.

With voice quickly becoming the preference of consumers, small and local brands need to ensure they’re ready for this next wave of search. Here are four ways to ensure your business will be discovered by voice assistants.

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Create an Easily Findable Digital Doorway

In order to capitalize on voice search, brands need to create and sustain a “digital doorway” for shoppers. Put simply, company websites must be updated and easily searchable in order for AI-powered searches and devices to locate your business when consumers are using certain keywords or locations in their search queries.

Basic SEO uses formulas and algorithms that depend on the methods popular search engines like Google or Yahoo filter results. To keep the digital doorway wide open, your SEO strategy must also integrate the search methodology used by voice assistants to generate better results across all platforms. For instance, HTTPS-formatted websites overwhelmingly prevail in Google’s voice search results, and believe it or not, the faster your website loads, the more likely it is to be picked up by a voice search due to algorithms that prioritize immediacy.

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Own your Business on Third-Party Websites

With 87% of consumers influenced by peer reviews, external validation is more important to shoppers than ever, which is why platforms like Google Voice Search, Siri and Alexa source many of their results from review websites such as Yelp. It’s critical website, location and contact information are kept up-to-date on these external websites. Automakers like Ford have even begun using Alexa in newer vehicles, and Apple has begun to allow companies like Lyft and various GPS apps to leverage Siri as well, so any queries made through these platforms will also source from these critical external sites.

Think Local with your SEO Strategy

Customers often search for products and businesses by location, so brands need to use their location as a marketing tool in preparation for ‘near me’ searches by optimizing your digital presence to be found online. These types of hyper-local searches have increased exponentially over the past few year, with recent Google stats showing their frequency increasing by nearly 100 times since 2012. A great starting point is to make sure your Google My Business listing is up-to-date and accurate to ensure your location will appear in near me searches. Next, create localized content for your website using keywords relevant to the area. Own a furniture store in Boston? Consider that consumers may search for “recliner in Boston” and incorporate those keywords in your content.

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Simplify your Language

Voice search is about convenience, and users don’t think to make their queries eloquent when talking to Alexa or Siri. Instead, they talk quickly and conversationally, so it’s critical to elevate the overall SEO strategy by incorporating plain, simple language. For instance, a desktop user may search for “Jordan’s Furniture in Los Angeles, California,” while someone furnishing a new apartment might say “where can I get new bed” to their Alexa device.

Voice search is positioned to transform the way small and local businesses market to consumers, but companies must first ensure they’re ready to handle this new wave. To successfully reach customers, you need to understand how the technology works and then adapt your strategy to target your tech-savvy audience.

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