Voice search optimisation for your local business
The way people search for information online has had a dramatic overhaul in the last few years, and voice search is one of the fastest growing search methods, and it’s not hard to see why. Simply by using a command, users are able to instantly search for services, products, info and local businesses.
And although voice search isn’t going to overtake traditional online search queries in the near future, it is still important to understand its potential and how you can use it with your local business.
The potential for your business
With the boom of smart speakers, it has suddenly become much more common to use voice search when you’re looking for information, and since these smart speakers are of course centred around the home, it is no surprise that a lot of these searches are related to local services and products.
As more and more households invest in a smart speaker, voice search is going to continue to get bigger and bigger. And when you consider that voice search is not just on smart speakers but on our smartphones too, it is definitely time to get on board with how it can affect your business.
Voice search and how to optimise your local business
- Owning your digital footprint
When you own a physical bricks and mortar business, it can be all too easy to overlook your online activity, but it is important to have a good, solid digital footprint to back you up.
Voice search and its assistants can seem like they know it all (looking at you Alexa!), however they do need to able to find the relevant information about your business on the web. Therefore, an important part of optimising your site and thus business for voice search involves the use of citations, which are basically online references about your business that include information like the name, address and phone number.
When these citations are high quality and from trusted sources, voice assistants are then able to use the information provided in order to answer local search queries that have been posed.
Various voice assistants favour various forms of information, but one thing that is a constant is the fact that they’ll never rely on just one. For example Alexa may use Bing for its search, and Yelp for its business listings and reviews, whereas Siri uses Google to search, Apple maps for business listings, and then Yelp for the reviews.
To begin with, the important places that you need to have your business correctly listed, cited and optimised in are Google My Business, Apple Maps, Bing and Yelp.
- How to use schema mark-up
In order to provide webmasters with accurate data about your business in a structured way, you’ll need to use schema, which is a type on on-page data mark-up.
Thanks to its clear and well-structured format, search engines are then able to understand both the contents and context of your web pages much more easily, and with the need for less algorithm analysis. In this way, the engines can then better deduce the relevance of the pages in regards to specific search queries, and thus provide better results.
When it comes to ranking for rich results as well as featured snippets, which are important in voice search, schema plays an important role.
Schema works by giving your site the chance to appear in new rich results, which are constantly being tweaked and altered by search engines. One of the most prominent experiments was when Google played around with a sort of information panel card on smartphones, which appeared when users made a branded search for a business. The card included handy information like booking a table, which could then direct the user straight to the relevant webpage.
Due to this kind of experimentation, Google My Business was heavily influenced, and is now popularly in use by all kinds of local businesses. With the right schema mark-up with its structured data, you’re more likely to get your business appearing in the rich snippets.
By providing structured data to your webpages, search engines will more easily be able to understand what it is that your website does, which in turn can lead to better rankings. This is important for local businesses in terms of voice search, since search engines use the schema in order to get a clearer view on the business, its central subject, and what kinds of services that it is offering its users.
When good structured data is already present, it is going to make it more likely that your business will be seen as a relevant candidate to answer local voice searches.
With local business schema, you’ll be able to prepare your website for richer search features in the future, make your online digital footprint stronger, boost your relevancy in local searches, help drive more on and offline conversions for your business and even in a roundabout way promote your website rankings.
Just how you can implement and control your schema mark-up though?
With hundreds of different schema types that can be used for all kinds of businesses and content, as well as various ways to mark-up the schema in the page source code, with a little bit of investigation, you can take control.
In terms of the local business data that you can mark-up, there is plenty that you can do. This includes: the business name, address, telephone number, email address, opening hours, location, reviews, business description, social media profiles, logo, and of course the site name. And don’t forget that the data must be clear, accurate and relevant.
Google has got plenty of information on this subject, and it’s a good idea to check out their guidelines before you implement.
- Producing relevant content for voice search
There are fortunately some easy to follow ways to optimise content to specifically target voice search queries. One of the most straightforward is to find out the kinds of questions that people are looking for answers for from your business.
You don’t have to go about creating reams of content and pages specifically intended for search terms, since Google and other search engines will be seeking to find the answers directly from page content, no matter how small the snippet or segment.
The first thing to do is to undertake some long tail keyword research, and check out questions that people are asking about your business, and then use them to create some relevant and useful content. Handy for users whether they are voice searching or not, this type of content is only going to beneficial to your site.
If you’re finding this to be a bit clunky for your site, you can always create an FAQ page which is also going to be ideal for voice search. Since voice search is used in a chatty way, you can mimic this on your FAQ page without it sticking out. Perfect for both traditional and voice searches, handy points, titles and commonly asked questions are all going to add towards making your online presence more user and search engine friendly.
Do remember though that voice search tends to look out for clear and concise information within 30 words, so base your FAQ page around this.
With the rapid growth of voice search, and no signs of its losing popularity as it is integrated into more and more tech products, you need to consider how you can capitalise on it for your local business.
Alongside a fully mobile optimised website, good download speeds, and of course relevant and natural backlinks, as well as the tips mentioned above, you can really start to enjoy the benefits of voice search, so get your voice strategy for your business planned and implemented now.