By Kalin Kassabov, founder and CEO of ProTexting.com
We're hearing more and more about the popularity of voice assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Assistant. Along the same lines, people are increasingly using voice search on their smartphones and other devices. This is only the beginning of a major transformation that has serious implications for all businesses. Voice search changes how people search for you and what they see -- or hear -- when they find your listing. Here are some tips to keep up with the voice search revolution.
Focus on voice search SEO.
Whether people are searching from their phones, their car's GPS or a device such as Amazon Echo, it's becoming increasingly common to speak queries out loud rather than type them into a search engine. Google is paying close attention to this trend and is making adjustments in how it ranks sites and presents information.
One basic principle to keep in mind is to think of how people naturally ask questions. SEO is moving away from written queries such as "pizza downtown Austin" to more natural ones such as "Where is the nearest pizza place?" (Increasingly, searchers don't need to specify the location because their GPS-equipped devices know exactly where they are.) Voice searches are often questions as opposed to keywords.
Another thing to know about voice search is that featured snippets are now a major factor. When you search for a term on Google, you can see featured snippets from a lucky, SEO-savvy website. How do you optimize your site to be featured by Google as a snippet? Focus on FAQs that searchers have about your industry. Remember, Google is looking for a quick and accurate summary of the information searchers are seeking.
Pay attention to reviews and reputation management.
Online reviews are already an important part of promoting your business. As voice search becomes more popular, reviews will play an even larger role in helping people decide which businesses to patronize. Voice assistants such as Alexa and Siri are convenient for bringing up information on Google My Business, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Facebook and other review sites.
Many people, when searching for a restaurant, salon, contractor or other business, ask for the "best" or "best reviewed" company in that category. When they hear reviews, it's even more compelling than reading them. That's why you should do everything you can to persuade your customers to leave reviews -- and serve them well enough that these reviews are favorable.
Optimize for local search.
Voice search and local search are closely related. People are likely using voice search as they drive around or prepare to leave the house. They're generally looking for nearby businesses. To take advantage of this, put in as many relevant local search terms as possible. In addition to your physical address and city, include neighborhoods, boroughs or counties and landmarks (e.g., near City Hall or the airport).
If you're out of the way, state your proximity to the nearest well-known town, city or landmark. Additionally, make sure your phone number and other contact details are easy to find and up to date.
Make your website mobile-centric.
It's no secret that mobile is getting bigger all the time, with the majority of web searches now being conducted on smartphones or tablets. The growth of mobile ties in closely with voice search. It's much easier to speak a query into a smartphone than to type it out. When people are driving, they're far more likely to ask their phone how to find something than to type out the question (though they shouldn't be doing either when driving!).
As mobile devices increasingly overshadow desktops and laptops, voice search will become the natural way to connect. Assume that the majority of people who visit your website are doing so from mobile devices -- whether they typed in a query or used voice search. Ensure that your site is fully optimized for mobile with a responsive design. Compress your images or start off with smaller ones. Regularly test to see how your website looks on different devices, especially mobile phones and tablets.
Voice search is here to stay, and it will only get bigger. It will profoundly affect marketing and SEO, especially for local businesses. In addition to the above guidelines, think of as many ways as possible to cater to the customers who are asking about your business or industry through their smartphones or voice assistants.
Kalin Kassabov is a founder and CEO of ProTexting.com, a fast-growing enterprise level text message suite of services.