Conquering the New World of Voice Search
By Rieva Lesonsky
Are you one of the millions of Americans who use digital voice assistants, such as Amazon’s Echo (Alexa), Google’s Home, Apple’s Siri (or HomePod) or Microsoft’s Cortana? You’re not alone. Last year, according to the Voice Report, about 33 million voice search devices were in use. And ComScore projects by 2020, 50% of searches will be voice-based.
While digital assistants make consumers’ lives easier (I rely on Siri and Alexa several times a day), they also complicate our entrepreneurial lives. Think With Google has compiled some statistics, underscoring how much of a paradigm shift is taking place:
- 62% of consumers who own digital assistants are likely to use their devices to make a purchase
- 58% of those who regularly use digital assistants use them to manage or create shopping lists
- 44% of regular users order products using their digital assistants at least once a week
With such widespread usage, your search engine optimization (SEO) strategies need to go beyond computers, tablets and smartphones and incorporate digital assistants and voice search. Here’s how you can do that.
Voice search optimization tips
First, review your desktop SEO results. According to a recent study, websites that rank high for traditional Google search results generally also perform well in Google voice search results. To ensure your voice search tactics pay off, consider these tips:
1—Use conversational keywords
Consumers approach voice search differently than conventional search. When we search in a browser, we tend to keep things short. We might write, “Best ice cream shops near me.” But, when we use voice search, Google reports, we speak as if we’re talking to a real person. In fact, 70% of users of a Google Assistant ask questions in natural language, and most (53%) say talking to a digital assistant feels “natural.” So we might ask, “What’s the best ice cream shop in Long Beach?,” or if we want to narrow our search, we might say, “What’s the best ice cream shop in zip code 90712?”
Optimizing for voice search means using different keywords—ones that would answer conversational type questions.
Voice search users are frequently multitasking when they call upon a digital assistant. We could be driving, walking or taking a hike. Or we could be watching TV, reading a book or shopping at the mall. Other times it just may not be convenient to type something into a browser window.
So, it’s imperative your website is optimized for mobile usage (it should be anyway) and search. Currently, 40% of consumers prefer to complete their entire shopping journey on mobile devices. Despite that, mobile conversions are still lower than desktop because the mobile user experience is subpar. Slow load times, long-form fields, and poor user experience usually leave people frustrated—and headed to one of your competitors.
Yes, the “keep it simple” principle applies here. Your content must be easy to read. A recent study shows the average Google voice search result is written at a 9th-grade reading level. Review your website copy to make sure it meets the “3 C’s.” You content needs to be clear, concise and comprehensible. Keep your sentences and paragraphs short.
Many voice searchers are looking for information about a local business. If you want local consumers to find your store, office or restaurant, you need to claim your listings in the numerous local directories, including: Google My Business; Yelp; Bing; Yahoo; YP.com & local maps listings.
What do consumers want from your small business?
Owners of digital assistants expect their devices to deliver more information to them:
- 52% want to learn about deals, promotions and sales from businesses
- 48% want businesses to deliver personalized tips and information that help make their lives easier
- 42% want to learn about a company’s upcoming events and activities
- 39% use their devices to get more information about a business, such as hours of operation and location
This isn’t all that surprising considering deals are big drivers of consumer buying behaviors these days. Most shoppers say they would allow businesses to track them in-store (via mobile tracking) and send them push notifications if they received discounts and coupons in return. Here’s what else they want in exchange for allowing you to track and message them:
- 61%—Discounts, coupons
- 47%—Loyalty rewards
- 34%—Faster checkout
- 11%—New product notifications
- 11%—Personalized recommendations
Voice search is just one of many shifts taking place in the way small businesses market their goods and services. You also need to know how to find—and reach the right prospects—and how they can find you.
Join me on Wednesday, July 18 at 2 pm ET, for a webinar, sponsored by Verizon. You’ll learn about voice search and I’ll share my best tips, tricks and tactics for business owners, including social media best practices, creating killer content, secrets of email marketing and how to conquer the new world of voice search.
Are you looking for helpful Search Engine Optimization tips to improve your small business' bottom line? Evan Bailyn, our webinar speaker and best-selling author of Outsmarting Google and SEO Made Easy, will walk you through the new opportunities available in 2016 for using SEO to help increase your bottom line in a secure and ethical way.
The 2016 Guide to the Google Algorithm Ranking Factors
A Guest Article by Evan Bailyn
Google’s algorithm has undergone dozens of significant changes since the search engine debuted in 1998. And yet, the main factors that cause a website to rank are largely the same today, on the cusp of 2016, as they were back then: namely, links, original content, and meta page titles. The vast majority of the updates to Google’s algorithm over the years have been in the service of thwarting low-quality SEO tactics in order to bring sites that genuinely have these 3 factors to the top of the results. But these aren’t the only criteria Google uses. In this guide, I dissect the algorithm, listing each factor in order of its importance.
But first, some context.
The thing that truly made Google special, differentiating it from the other search engines that existed in the 1990s such as HotBot, Altavista, Webcrawler, and Lycos, was that its algorithm was based on factors that were outside of a website owner’s control. The other search engines’ algorithms were based on the number of times a given keyword was written on a website. If a lawyer, for instance, wrote “personal injury lawyer san diego” a thousand times on his website, he would quickly rank at the top of the search engines for that keyword. Google’s algorithm, in contrast, was based on the number and quality of references to your website that appeared on other websites. (References which, when clicked, bring you to another website, are called “links”.) And so, no matter how many times you wrote a keyword on your website, you couldn’t rank on Google unless other webmasters deemed your site interesting enough to reference it.
Google’s algorithm was no small innovation in the world of search engines; in fact, it was nothing short of revolutionary. Whereas the algorithm of the other search engines was equivalent to an election where the candidate who makes the most promises wins, Google’s algorithm was equivalent to a democracy, where the candidate who receives the most votes from the populace wins. Getting “elected” to the top of Google’s search results can only occur when your site has earned credibility in other people’s eyes. That’s the genius of Google’s algorithm.
While links remain the most important ranking factor for the Google search engine in 2016, there are many other factors which, when considered in aggregate, make up an important slice of the algorithm. Here is the breakdown of Google’s algorithm based on my analysis of 116 websites, ranging from brand new websites to some of the largest sites on the Internet, over the past year.
- Links: 29%
- Regular production of original “thought leadership” content: 23%
- Keyword-rich meta page title tags: 8%
- Mobile & tablet responsiveness: 8%
- Existence of conversion-optimized landing pages: 8%
- Clean code: 6%
- Site speed: 5%
- Social signals: 4%
- Age of site 4%
- Keywords listed on page: 2%
- Keywords in URLs: 2%
- Keywords in meta description tags: 1%
To learn more about Evan’s SEO recommendations for your small business, please visit Evan’s blog.
I love writing the Weekly Roundup because it means it’s Friday. 😉 Also, it gives me the opportunity to read up on some small business related news and share with all of you.
Like all businesses, you want to get paid. However, some clients delay payment which may put stress on your business. Perhaps you’ll want to consider selling your invoices to a third party?
If you are still working on filing your taxes, check out this article which lists the 10 small business tax deductions most commonly overlooked. Also, click here to learn about recent legislation that has increased tax credits for small business this year; which I’m sure you wouldn’t want to miss.
For those posting content online, @DIYSEO tweeted this blog to us (@VZSmallBiz) which lists 101 free (easy) SEO tips for small businesses. These are tips to increase the chances of your online content being found easier and perhaps even coming up higher in search results.
Check out StopBadware.org, Verizon recently announced it’ll work with this organization to protect small businesses by expanding educational resources for users, and develop new security strategies for the mobile space.
Here’s an interesting report: the startup rate is at a 15-year high and if you have a few minutes watch that video. What a neat concept, starting a business to target start-ups. Lastly, this one’s for all the men who read this blog: Dockers will award you $100,000 to pursue your dream or start your business. Act fast as the deadline to submit is fast approaching.
Until next time, happy reading!
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