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Voice Search Readiness is Not an Option — It’s a Must

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Voice search readiness is a concept that not many have embraced wholeheartedly yet, but that has to change. I understand that the idea of 50 percent of all searches being made by voice by 2020 can sound far-fetched — after all, how could consumers change their search patterns so much in a little over a year?

Voice Search is Not a New Concept

Voice search’s popularity has grown considerably in the past couple of years thanks to new technologies that have made voice assistants smarter than ever. Eventually, voice assistants will be so functional that voice search will practically be the only way the consumer and information-seeker will search for what they need. This is why voice search readiness is so important.

To truly be voice search-ready, local businesses and brands need to cover all of their bases. Let’s take a look at how they could effectively do it.

What has Made Voice Search Surge?

Well, actually a lot has contributed to the surge of voice search in the last decade. For starters, everyone latches onto something that makes their lives easier, and as soon as Apple automatically programmed Siri into iPhones, the magnitude of its ability and potential for data opened people’s eyes for the first time.

Something that seemed off-putting and a little frightening — our mobile phones talking to us — became one of the easiest ways to garner information at a moment’s notice. If the searcher needs something fast, like a veterinary hospital or pharmacy, all they have to do is ask. We have been able dictate what we want to say in a text message or call a desired contact for what seems like decades now, though it really hasn’t been that long. But those capabilities are now old news. Voice-enabled devices extend as far as thermostats, and now microwaves. Amazon released an Alexa-powered microwave a few months back — how crazy is that?

The “Near Me” Qualifier

Without a doubt, you have used a “near me” qualifier at the end of a search. Maybe you are traveling, are unfamiliar with an area, or need to find a particular store ASAP. That’s where “near me” comes in; using a phone or other device’s location capability when searching, the querier can find the closest location of either a particular business or something Google thinks is related. This is up 900% since 2015 alone according to the 2018 Internet Trends report, which means amping local and voice search optimization strategies is essential.

As I discussed in this article, serving the “Me” generation is a must. It starts with optimized business listings and moves well beyond that to answering the right questions, and more.

The Google Duplex

Upon its release, the Google Duplex technology both frightened and impressed experts this year. The idea that a piece of artificial intelligence is doing things like scheduling appointments, making reservations at a restaurant, and essentially handling busywork is mind-boggling. But this artificial intelligence will eventually make its way to the mainstream with gusto; the Super-Empowered Consumer is going to love it. It’s fascinating technology that is bound to be the stepping stone to other technology that will surpass anything we can imagine.

Voice Search-Optimized Practices

At Advice Local, we stay on top of trends, and we anticipated voice search’s rise and impact on the world of local SEO. That’s why implementing voice search-minded SEO strategies to a brand’s data, content, and listings is what we cannot encourage enough. 2020 is barely over a year away, so it’s best to prepare now. Start with these preliminary steps:

  • Local businesses’ data needs to be 100% accurate across the web. While this isn’t news to you, it seems some marketers have still missed the memo. It’s not a “fix it once and forget it” situation; ongoing monitoring is necessary.
  • Google My Business (GMB) needs to be fully utilized for voice search-preparedness. Not only should the listing be equipped with quick information for the searcher on the go, like business hours and contact information, but leveraging features like questions and answers, GMB Posts, and even messaging is a must. Consider the “me” user and what they would want to know when optimizing these listings. What questions would they ask the Google Assistant? Those are the answers local business listings need to deliver.
  • Content is still king. That’s right – I said it! Did it make you want cringe? Google has been saying for a while that content needs to be conversational and in natural language; the average voice searcher will not be using any tricky vocabulary, stuffed with keywords and written for a machine. Sites that deliver answers to questions that are easy to digest (believe it or not, 29-word answers) will rise to the top of voice search results.

Get Ready for It

Whether or not the public is fully ready, the voice search revolution is here, and it’s only getting stronger. Local and large businesses alike need to prepare – it isn’t just a fad. It’s redefining search as we know it.

What changes have you started making to help prepare your local business clients?

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