Author | Chatmeter TeamDate Posted | August 25, 2020

Voice Search Optimization Tips for Higher Customer Acquisition

Within the last few years, voice assistant usage has climbed rapidly among consumers. The outbreak of COVID-19 created an even larger demand for answers, shining a light on how quickly voice assistants are becoming integrated into everyday consumer life. 77% of people are changing their everyday routine due to COVID-19, and with that change, contactless technology such as voice assistants are rising in popularity.

The large role that voice assistants play in a consumer’s life will only continue to grow, whether it’s assisting with everyday commands, searching for local businesses, or simply answering common questions. Brands need to be prepared to meet these new consumer behaviors with a strong Voice Search Optimization strategy in 2020.

The Current Outlook on Voice Technology

During COVID-19, consumers turned to their voice assistant to answer questions and concerns related to coronavirus. As a response, leading providers of voice assistants quickly added in new COVID-19 related features and functionalities to address the influx in questions. In March, Amazon updated their Alexa to help answer thousands of questions related to COVID-19, provide official news information from the government, and communicate guidance from the CDC to help consumers check risk levels for COVID-19. The Google Assistant released an update to provide local COVID-19 news within certain areas of the US. And Apple launched an update to Siri’s voice assistant to walk users through identifying if they have coronavirus related symptoms.

As we continue to see voice assistants play a key role in COVID-19 related guidance, we’re finding that it’s becoming increasingly important in local search as well and can be helpful for businesses looking to increase customer acquisition. In a time where businesses have consistently faced obstacles in getting customers to return to stores due to social distancing, quarantine, CDC guidelines, and consumer discomfort; voice search optimization offers a unique solution in overcoming these obstacles.

Retailers have recently expressed interest in integrating voice technology to assist with the consumer shopping experience in this new normal, including guidance with product searches, shopping lists, checkouts, and more. The hands-free benefit of voice assistants is also being recognized by the healthcare industry. AI developer Orbita launched a new voice assistant designed to help healthcare organizations scale their response process during COVID-19. Healthcare workers can use the voice assistant’s chatbot to answer more coronavirus relation questions in less time. The restaurant industry who previously relied heavily on in-person interaction is finding ways to leverage voice technology to create contactless ordering experiences in this new normal.

Your Brands Online Presence Matters for Voice Search Optimization

As we continue to see a rise in new use cases for voice assistants, investing in a voice search optimization strategy will only grow more critical for businesses who want to rise to the top of search rankings and be found by customers.

Increasing your business’s chance of being found through a voice assistant requires taking the right steps toward maximizing online visibility. When it comes to local search, voice assistants use a variety of sources to gather information and provide the most relevant answer to the consumer. For example, if someone asks their assistant for restaurant recommendations near them, Amazon Alexa will use Yelp to find information. Google Assistant will use Google Maps, Microsoft’s Cortana will use Bing, and Siri will give answers with a combination of Apple Maps and Yelp.

Earning a spot as a voice search result is even tougher than ranking on the first page of a search engine. When you’re searching for a business or product through a voice assistant, it narrows down to 1-3 results (depending on the device), which means the competition is even more fierce than usual. Prioritizing your business’s voice search optimization strategy will increase your brand’s search rankings, chances of getting found, and ultimately generate revenue. Here are some tips to ensure your brand is on top of the voice search optimization landscape for 2020 and the future.

Listings Management to Enable Brand Discovery Through Voice Search

Ensuring your business can be found on every voice assistant requires your brand to be present on all of the major tier 1 directories. This starts with claiming and optimizing your business listings on the directories that power voice assistants such as these examples below:

  • Yelp
  • Apple
  • Google
  • Bing

It doesn’t just stop at having your business present on these listings. Accurate business information on listings is one of the most crucial elements in a brand’s visibility and online presence. This includes everything from your business’s name, address, categories, website, hours, and description. Head over to our blog to get the full scope of what a successful listings management strategy looks like.

Create Content that Gives Answers

Is your content voice friendly? With 72% of smart speakers owners saying their smart devices are a part of their daily routines, your brand’s content strategy must be optimized for how voice assistant users search. Focus on conversational phrases, long-tail keywords, and natural language to answer consumers who are asking questions like:

  • “Hey Siri, where’s the closest mexican restaurant available for takeout?”
  • “Who can I call for a plumber near me?”
  • “Which store offers in-store shopping for activewear?”

Publishing a detailed FAQ page on your website is a direct voice search optimization tactic that will increase your brand’s chances of being pulled as a voice search result. Adding proper schema markup, which is structured data that localizes and structures your website content, will help search engines easily find your content. Optimizing your overall content strategy to be voice friendly will increase your brand’s chances of being used for a featured snippet, which more than 40% of voice search answers come from.

Speed Up Your Website

Aside from the hands-free convenience, voice assistants also offer the benefit of delivering information in seconds. Whether it’s in the car, through the phone, or a smart speaker, consumers want answers within a matter of moments.To emphasize the importance in page speed, Google released the Google Speed Update, announcing mobile page speed as a ranking factor for mobile search. Here are some important tips to speed up your website:

  • Test Website Speed – The recommended load time to rank on the first page of Google is under three seconds. The average page loading speed for a web page is around 10 seconds on the desktop and 27 seconds on mobile, both far too slow. Testing your website speed can help you assess and identify where to start.
  • Compress Images – Large images can greatly extend your website’s loading time. There are simple compression tools like Compress JPEG that can help you easily compress images and reduce your page’s loading time.
  • Implement Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – AMP is a tool designed to help reduce load time on mobile devices. The open-source, simple formatting provides consumers with a seamless browser experience on their phone, allowing mobile pages to load instantly.

Test It!

Understanding the success of your brand’s voice search optimization strategy requires putting it to the test. Simply ask your voice assistant similar questions that your target audience may be asking when searching for products and services related to your business. Try using different devices such as a smart speaker or a mobile device to see if your brand is being pulled as a result. Each device may give a different number of results which is an important factor to take note of. Compare your own business to your competitors to see if and where they are being ranked. Testing your voice search optimization strategy is the only way to truly understand and analyze what areas you may need to improve on.

Voice Search Optimization for Success in 2020 and Beyond

COVID-19 is changing consumer behavior one trend at a time. Consumers are re-evaluating the necessity of touching objects, quickly paving a path for a larger necessity and preference for contactless technologies such as voice assistants. As the touch-free world we live in continues to expand, an optimized voice search optimization strategy is not just beneficial anymore, it’s essential.