By Jonathan Long, Market Domination Media – September 17, 2018
Voice search is all about convenience, and as more consumers realize they can get information about local businesses without even picking up their mobile devices, more will lean on the technology.
Voice search is gaining popularity on a daily basis, yet so many small businesses are ignoring the fact. If you are one of those small business owners that hasn’t prioritized voice search optimization, it’s time to take action.
Earlier this summer, it was announced that Yext had added Amazon Alexa to its Knowledge Network. Why is this huge news? It now gives you, as the business owners, control over the information that Alexa provides its users about your business. Yext manages 30 million facts regarding 1.2 million businesses and locations. Now, you have full control over the hours, address and phone number that Alexa users receive.
Voice search is all about convenience, and as more consumers realize they can get information about local businesses without even picking up their mobile devices, more will lean on the technology. To help make sure your business is optimized for voice search, follow these four tips below.
1. Claim and audit all top-tier directory listings.
This is something that you should be doing regardless, even if voice search wasn’t a thing, but now with the recent Yext and Amazon announcement, it makes NAP (name, address and phone number) consistency extremely important.
The top directories, such as Facebook, Google, Yext, Yellow Pages, Yelp, Better Business Bureau, etc. are all sources of information, when both consumers and search engines are looking for answers. They are all well-established directories, and you need to make sure that your business is listed on each and the information listed is accurate and consistent across the board. To help you identify opportunities, as well as audit your existing listings, you can use a tool such as Yext Listings or Moz Local.
2. Use structured data throughout your website.
The search engines and AI bots use the information on your website to help identify and understand the content of each page. To help, you can include structured data on your website pages, which is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying its content.
For example, you should use structured data on your contact page, so the search engines and AI bots understand, without a doubt, when your store hours are, where you are located and what your phone number is. “While more of a solution-provider website, we use structured data to help search engines and AI understand what we do by using ‘Real Estate Agent’ as our business ‘@type’ in the markup, along with making sure our hours are listed as always open. This way, regardless of the time a voice search is performed, our website has the potential to be provided as a solution to their request,” says Jonathan Rolande of home buying company House Buy Fast
Alexa is pulling this information directly from your Yext listing, so it’s crucial that it’s accurate. If you are familiar with structured data and want to test its accuracy, I suggest you take advantage of Google’s free testing tool. If structured data is new to you, I highly recommend reading this article, which is beginner-friendly.
3. Publish content on your website that answers your customers’ common questions.
Voice search is appealing and convenient because it provides answers to questions on demand. Want to know when a local pizza restaurant is open until? Simply ask Alexa and you will have your answer immediately.
“The more answer-providing content you can publish on your website, the better prepared you will be for voice search,” says Terry Manning, CEO of Cheap Auto Insurance Comparison. “In our instance, rather than publish generic content about auto insurance, we have state and city-specific content, geared towards answering common questions our target consumers have. As voice search advances, generic content becomes far less effective.”
There are a couple ways to source content ideas, but the most effective is to speak with your customer support team. Find out what the most common questions are regarding your products or services. Then, find clever ways to answer those common questions, either via a comprehensive FAQ page, or through detailed long-form blog content.
4. Optimize for mobile.
What happens after someone performs a voice search using Alexa and gets the information he or she was looking for? They pick up their mobile device and take action.
“Alexa, what are some Italian restaurants close by?”
If a consumer asks that, and likes one of the responses, they are likely to grab their mobile device and visit the website to investigate further or make a reservation. You must be mobile-friendly and provide a pleasant user experience. If not, they will quickly abandon your website and do business with a competitor.
“We created an extremely user-friendly interface for our clients to navigate. Our mobile traffic numbers increase monthly, so it’s important to deliver a smooth experience, whether it is through our API, navigation or file uploads,” says Mark Greenspan, CEO of Check Issuing. “While we might be discovered through an initial voice search, many clients have their first interaction with our company on a mobile device, making it important to provide a great experience.”
If you want to see how Google views your website in terms of mobile-friendliness, you can run your URL through its free testing tool.