Voice Search Optimization
for your Local SEO Plan

Just a few decades ago, the concept of voice assistants was something outlandish from the distant future. Today, they give plenty of web traffic. Users dictate their queries to Siri or Google, and they find the results online.
And, because voice-dictated queries are quite different from typed ones, SEO for such searches will be different
as well. In turn, it means that local optimization for voice traffic will also change.
Malte Helmhold | Unsplash

Let's take a quick look at how voice search differs

A voice assistant without a screen launches a search command from the platform and then returns a result
to you — also via voice. The main difference here is that a lot of content will not make it into the search results,
you will only hear the best option your assistant chooses. So, a smart speaker without a screen won't show you an article or play a video with a picture.

But a voice assistant on your smartphone turns your query into the text itself and presents you a whole range
of answers to your question — local proposals, routes, articles, videos, podcasts, and expert columns. If you're targeting voice assistants, you should use voice-optimized content as much as possible.

In this post, we will tell you how.
Local results for "Clothing store nearby" query via Google Assistant on a smartphone
Local results for "Build a route to McDonald's" query via Siri on a smartphone
Today, there are several overriding intelligent assistants. Each assistant has its algorithm — but data sources
can overlap.

How voice assistants share the market

Andres Urena | Unsplash
Knowing those assistants market share, can help you prioritize your optimization strategy according to what your goals are. Since each assistant is tied to a different hardware brand with a slightly different user base, you can focus your analytics tracking efforts on one or two platforms. It will all depend on the audience you're targeting.

The SEMRush 2020 report asked respondents to list what digital assistants they use. So Siri, the voice assistant that gave rise to the development of speech recognition technology, occupies 36% of the market — along with Google Assistant. Siri can send voice messages, translate text into foreign languages, and much more. In Google Assistant, the main focus is on information search, synchronization with Google cloud services, and the Android operating system. Amazon's Alexa took 25% of the market. Cortana, a Microsoft development presented in 2013 as a voice assistant for personal computers and Windows Phone, takes 19%.
So, as Siri and Google Assistant are the most popular among the users, we'll primarily talk about them.

Voice search is getting more and more popular

There's good news for businesses that haven't yet optimized their listings and are worried about the prospect of being left behind. Voice search hasn't yet reached critical mass — which means you still have a chance. But anyway you should be nimble.

BrightLocal's 2018 study revealed the most common uses of voice search and tested their dependence on devices:
  • 58% of US consumers searched for local businesses via smartphone

  • 74% of users search for local businesses at least weekly

  • 76% of users search for local businesses at least once a week, and most do it daily via smart speakers.
OC&C Strategists research claims that by 2022, the voice shopping market will grow to $40 billion in the US and UK alone. So, it's a good idea for local businesses to think about listings optimization for voice search now to be in the TOP of the local pack suggested as an answer for user queries.

How can you optimize your listings for voice search?

In case you do decide to do voice optimization for your listing, here are a few tips.
1
Make sure your business listings are up to date and thoroughly filled out
It's a must have not only for your standart local SEO strategy, but also for ranking for voice search.
Moreover, your listings should be "alive", so:

  • Respond to reviews promptly and in a good manner.

  • Localize your content to create useful posts and use keywords search engines will associate with
    your company. Thus you increase your chances to get into the local results by giving information
    to high-frequency queries.

  • Insert a widget with a map on the company's website or provide a link to Google Maps in the appropriate micro-markup block (by clicking on the address, you can go to Google Map).
It is the golden rule for a high-quality optimization — the more active and full a business listing is,
the higher the chances to rank well.
2
Mind the full NAP across all location-based services
Make sure, your online presence is complemented by online references or citations of your consistent NAP (business name, address, and phone number). Voice assistants rely on this information while doing a brand search or providing answers to local queries. NAP gives profiles for local search results based on different sources. For example, Siri uses Yelp, Bing, Apple Maps, and TripAdvisor, while Google Assistant turns to Google My Business.

Define where your business appears and if all the information is correct. Your must-have directories are Google My Business, Apple Maps, Bing, and Yelp.
Local results for "Best Italian restaurant in New York" query via Siri on a smartphone
If you're looking to optimize your business listing for voice assistants, be sure to populate your NAP profiles across all possible platforms and fill out your business listings in a full and correct way.
3
Provide answers on FAQs but be concise
Today, users tend to search on the go and they often do it via voice search.

Define what questions users are already asking about your category of business and provide them with answers in your listings which means to choose the right main and additional categories.

Design your content inside
the listing as a question followed by a short answer, the probability that the voice assistant will retell that answer
to the user increases.

Try to find long-tail keywords in your target audience's questions with the help of such instruments as Semrush, Serpstat or other relevant tools. Then include the most common long-tail keywords
in your Google questions (Q&A), posts, products and answering reviews, that can give your potential customer the information they need.
Local results for "The best coffee in New York" query via Google Assistant on a smartphone
Mind that answers read out by voice search assistants usually are around 30 words. So be short and informative.

To sum up

Today, voice search devices still occupy a niche role in the gadget ecosystem. Of course, as AI develops and gadgets improve, that may change, and then we'll all have to think about fully voice optimization but for now, the industry is still having growth challenges.

If you have a local business you just need to keep an eye on what exactly you can do to perform well in this source of traffic as well. So, listings optimization for voice search is just a smart step to add to your local SEO strategy.

Keep your listings correct and give full information your user might need. RocketData will readily help you with this, bringing your business listings to the top of local search.
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