By Alex Gladu, Independent We Stand
In the ever-changing world of technology – and, more specifically, search engine optimization (SEO) – businesses have to think ahead. Usually, that means anticipating algorithm changes and adapting SEO efforts quickly once those changes are announced. In 2016, it could mean adapting to a whole new channel of searches, thanks to the growing popularity of voice search.
What is voice search?
Voice search refers to the feature of many devices that allows users to verbally dictate their search query. As you can probably imagine, voice search has grown more popular in recent years as characters like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana have become more readily available and user-friendlier. As Search Engine Land reported in June, there are even newer players in the voice search space, including Amazon Echo’s new voice, Alexa, and the recently announced Google Home system, which has yet to hit the market.
How is it used?
In 2014, voice search was primarily used to ask for directions, make a phone call and dictate text messages. As the technology has advanced, so to have the ways that people rely on it. Two years later, 30 percent of voice searches ask for general information – things that people would otherwise type into a Google search, like recipes, news and other web searches. Meanwhile, 22 percent of voice searches ask for local information, such as local event details and restaurant reviews.
It’s also important to recognize when – and on which devices – people use voice search. Voice searches seem to go hand-in-hand with mobile search, which is becoming increasingly important for SEO. In fact, according to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local than traditional text searches.
Local searches are those in which the user is looking for something near them. For instance, a shopper looking for a certain pair of running shoes may search “sporting goods stores near me,” or a hungry family ready for dinner may search “pizza near me.” These are searches that local businesses can make the most of with voice search.
What does it mean for your business?
With all that said, voice search optimization requires some out-of-the-box thinking. Since local voice searches are likely to occur on mobile devices, it’s important for a local business to have a mobile-optimized website. That means simple navigation, a responsive design and the removal of any complicated graphics or videos that may slow down load times. Businesses can test their website’s mobile-friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test.
When optimizing, it’s also important to think about how people would phrase the searches related to your business in a voice search. For instance, voice search users will commonly phrase their searches as questions, rather than just relying on a few search keywords. A site’s content needs to answer those questions in order to perform well in voice searches.
As digital assistants grow more popular – and as more of them hit the market – it’s high time for businesses to think about voice search. In many ways, optimizing for voice search means optimizing for mobile, but as devices change and new technology comes into play, the intricacies of optimization won’t be far behind. To become more familiar with voice search, the best place to start could be your own Siri or Cortana.
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