10 Best Practices in Voice Search SEO for Local Businesses

Best practices in voice search SEO

We now live in a world driven by technology. Today’s consumers can easily find their way around by asking questions or giving commands to their smartphones. Through the power of technology, voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant now make it possible to just use voice commands or voice search to navigate your way around your mobile device’s features.

Say, for instance, you want to find the nearest restaurant within a certain area. All you need to do is speak with your smartphone and ask where the nearest restaurant is located (such as Japanese food), and voila! A list of potential restos will pop up on your little screen. Yes, a simple voice search is all it takes to find the best Japanese Ramen place in town.

Beyond being a frivolous party trick, voice search technology can be a godsend for those driving or with poor eyesight. It means no more tedious typing on your keypad. You simply say what you’re looking for and it will respond just as quickly.

From a business owner’s standpoint, this is the perfect way to stand out from the crowd and beat the competition. While everyone is still caught up in the traditional SEO game, your business will be perceived as one that cares for its customers when you optimize for voice search.

It’s a different ballgame

Of course, optimizing your website for voice search tends to differ from the usual SEO standards. Remember that it isn’t a simple keystroke that we’re looking at here. You’re now utilizing the power of voice—just as if one is speaking to another person. So it’s best to keep in mind that:

  1. People use keywords differently. In traditional search queries, one simply types the keywords, for example, “Beauty Salon.” With voice search, one will make their local queries by speaking with their smartphone and asking a question, “Where is the nearest beauty salon?”
  2. Unlike traditional search, there are different major voice assistants involved here. In traditional SEO, the only popular options are Google or Bing. When it comes to voice search, you’ve got Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant to do the job for you.
  3. People using voice search for local queries have strong intent, which you can leverage to nurture and convert them into customers. There is something about voice search that makes one feel in control, thus empowering one to make a purchase of a product or service.

There’s a goldmine waiting to be explored

If you think that voice search SEO is an added expense, consider that:

  • Using voice search can help direct more people to your physical store. A study revealed that 72% of buyers who find local businesses through voice search end up visiting the stores within a 5-mile radius. As with the example above, a hungry motorist in search of a Japanese restaurant isn’t simply trying out the tech for kicks. He is actually looking to satisfy his hunger—at a place where he can grab a hearty meal of Tempura and Sushi.
  • Apart from driving people to your store, your business may soon see an increase in website traffic, which means more brand awareness. In fact, 27% of consumers visit the website of a local business after performing a voice query. By providing solutions or answers to voice queries, it’s likely that users will visit your website to learn more about their concern. You can take this visit as an opportunity to capture their contact details using CTAs and lead magnets.

How to Optimize for Voice Search

  1. Know where to cite your business
  2. Improve your schema markup
  3. Use natural language keywords
  4. Tailor your content to voice search needs
  5. Create a comprehensive FAQ page
  6. Optimize for featured snippets
  7. Optimize for “Near Me” searches
  8. ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5)
  9. Increase your website speed
  10. Improve your domain authority

As mentioned above, voice search optimization is different from traditional SEO methods. Thus, it is important to know how to get the most out of this. There are voice search optimization strategies that you need to consider for your local business in order to reap its rewards.

1. Know where to cite your business

Voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are also called smart assistants because they are effective in delivering in-depth information to users. What makes it possible for them to do this is through data aggregation or the system of gathering and summarizing information from across online databases.

Data aggregators like search engines, maps, online directories or reviews—anything that holds datasets—scour the web for citations that refer to your business name, address, and phone number (NAP). They organize all these pieces of information in their database, ready to be pulled up by voice assistants whenever someone searches about a local business.

You should also ensure that your business has accurate and up-to-date citations or listings on the following data aggregators that each voice assistant uses:

  • Siri — Google search, Apple maps, and Yelp
  • Alexa — Bing, Yelp, and Yext
  • Google Assistant — Google search and Google My Business
  • Cortana — Bing and Yelp

2. Improve your schema markup

Schema markup is any data-rich information that’s added to a website code to help search engines better understand a website’s content and evaluate if the context suits the query of users.

Unlike ad-hoc algorithms, schema markup is data in a more structured form. This structured data makes it easier for Google or Bing to interpret a series of numbers (for example, a phone number) and show it to users who are looking for a way to contact your business.

Aside from NAP, you can also markup the following data on your website to make your business discoverable on voice search.

  • Main email address
  • Operating hours
  • Online reviews
  • Business description

3. Use natural language keywords

Google prides its smart assistant in becoming more adept at natural conversations to adapt to people who use natural language in 70% of voice searches.

Search engines look for natural sounding language through long-tail keywords that allow users to phrase their search as if they’re talking to another person.

To meet this criteria, you should definitely consider having as many as five or more words in your target search terms, instead of the one-word phrases that no longer make it to the cut of current SEO standards.

Another way of optimizing your keyword strategy is through question phrases. Take your main keyword and convert it into a question form using the 5W (who, what, where and when) and 1H (how) questions.

4. Tailor your content to voice search needs

Tailoring your content to voice search needs is key. Users of voice technologies don’t use the same search terms and may have very specific criteria in their search, unlike their counterparts who type on a keyboard to enter a search query on Google. With this in mind, you need to keep track of what people are using voice search for.

Remember too that different people have different needs and wants. This means you will need to program a wide range of content to suit different needs. But if you’re catering to a specific target audience, things would be much simpler. Whatever the case, always remember to keep in constant touch with your customers to know what they are looking for. This way, you will be able to take all sides into account and satisfy most, if not all of their wishes.

5. Create a comprehensive FAQ page

Mastering voice search SEO can be quite challenging since Google recommends answering voice queries in under 30 words. This is where you could use an FAQ page.

With an FAQ page, you can take the contents of your blog post, pick only the most important information, and use it to answer a highly specific query about your business. This is also a great way to rank for hundreds of voice search queries, as you use various categories in creating your FAQ pages—all of which let you target relevant keywords.

When you write your FAQ page, be sure to breakdown information into digestible pieces and keep the answers short and simple as much as possible. You can also group related questions and answers together using specific stages in the customer journey and themes.

Featured snippets, also known as answer boxes, are a type of search result that appears right on top of SERPs, which means users don’t need to scroll down and go to a separate page or link to find an answer to their query.

When you optimize your content for snippets, it has a far better chance of ranking above all others. This is called position zero in search marketing. Since voice assistants are designed to read only one result at a time, they will tend to automatically read back to the user is the top content or the featured snippet.

So if you come across search phrases that don’t return featured snippets on the SERP, use it as an opportunity to create better content that will land you on position zero in the voice search results.

7. Optimize for “Near Me” Searches

Local voice searches are synonymous to “Near Me” searches,” which means that someone is likely to use this phrase when they’re mobile and unable to type in a written query on Google or Bing. Meanwhile, they are able to speak to their voice assistant to help them find the nearest business to their current location.

Local businesses in retail, food and beverage, hospitality, and other service-oriented industries can greatly benefit from near me types of queries by making sure that they optimize their site for location- or directional-based keywords.

8. ELI5 (Explain Like I’m 5)

Search engines want its users to have a positive user experience by giving them content that’s easy to understand.

When writing content for voice search, aim for (maximum) a 9th grade reading or comprehension level. Get rid of technical jargon and use words that are familiar for average content consumers when defining or explaining a concept, giving instructions, and the like.

Avoid complex sentence structures too. Instead, aim for simpler ones to make it easy and fast for users to process the information they’re receiving via voice search.

9. Increase your website speed

Another factor that Google uses to rank websites is page speed for both desktop and mobile devices. Based on statistics, 20% of searches on mobile devices are voice-based, but with the rate voice search is expanding, you can expect this number to increase sooner rather than later.

This makes it important that you optimize your website’s loading speed so that you can capture the growing market of voice search users. You should perform regular audits on your site to help you spot technical issues as well as get access to high-speed network from a good web host.

10. Improve your domain authority

Domain authority is an approximate evaluation of your website domain’s potential to rank on search engines. It’s a predictive score given to your site describing how well you’re likely to perform on SERPs based on trustworthiness and authority.

It’s worth noting that with voice search, you don’t necessarily need to acquire a lot of backlinks to have Google rank your site, which is how it works for traditional SEO. Domain authority also considers link quality, which assess the strength of the linking domain as well as the contextual relevance of the link. As long as you follow the best practices in voice search, you can have a good DA and ultimately rank on voice search.

Give Your Brand a Voice

These days, it can be a real challenge to establish your brand image and ranking in the very vast digital space. Not only are you surrounded by competition but there’s also the fact that you need to keep an eye out for what’s hot and new.

So, if you want to stay ahead in the game, it’s best to take advantage of voice search optimization. Voice SEO uses the most innovative tools to provide your local business with quality voice search optimization services. We have SEO experts who understand the core fundamentals of voice search and are well-equipped with the right knowledge to optimize your website and make sure that you attract the right audience.

It’s the wave of the future today, and Voice SEO can help you get to where you want to be.