Although it might seem like something more suited to a sci-fi movie or television show, the concept of voice search is very real and has begun to make waves in the online world. Voice search, or voice-enabled tech, allows you to search the internet using a voice command, rather than having to type in a search query.
Google Voice Search is a product that enables users to speak on a computer or mobile phone, and then the device will perform the requested search.
Naturally, the ability to search for the information you want by speaking instead of typing is far more convenient, and this trend is only likely to become more prevalent in the future. Therefore, it’s important for small businesses to get themselves ready for the voice revolution, or risk being left behind.
Why your business needs to keep up
Like with any new trend that comes along, if your business doesn’t adjust and join the voice search party, you’ll be losing potential customers to those who are on board. If the general public or, more specifically, your customer base wants to search for companies like yours via voice search, it’s your responsibility to make it happen. That is why taking the necessary steps to get ready is crucial.
7 steps to prep for voice search
Getting on board with voice search will take some prepping, so check out these seven steps:
Audit your current efforts.
Consider position zero for small businesses.
Optimize for “near me” searches.
Consider your online reputation.
Train your staff for the shift.
Get found using plain, simple language.
Make your content relevant.
Read on to learn how to accomplish each step.
1. Audit your current efforts
When changes need to be made in any process, it makes sense to get a good idea of what you’re currently doing first. Take a look at your current online marketing strategy and determine how much effort, if any, you’ve been putting into voice search.
Think about how much effort is focused on long-tail keyword phrases, how much is focused on general search terms, and how much on more targeted terms.
Take some time to brainstorm and come up with keywords that are relevant to your business; don’t worry as much about keywords that don’t provide good business value in the beginning. The idea isn’t to make sweeping changes but to be aware that voice search is important and evaluate your current content in that context.
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2. Consider position zero for small businesses
Position zero, also called featured snippets or answer boxes in Google, refers to the block of text at the very top of a search results page, and it answers your search query.
If you run a local business, you might be able to dominate your niche by being featured in answer boxes for relevant voice search terms.
Make a list of all the topics relevant to your business and enter them into answerthepublic.com. You will get a wide range of questions and terms that might pertain to your business.
Enter each one into Google and keep a record of the ones that don’t have a featured snippet in the results. For the ones that don’t have a snippet, create content on that topic that might earn you position zero — and you should have a better chance of showing up in voice search results for those topics and terms.
3. Optimize for “near me” searches
For local businesses, optimizing “near me” search terms is a no-brainer for voice search. Everyone is looking for a “coffee shop near me” or a “car mechanic near me” and having these kinds of search terms optimized in your content will help you show up when people are looking.
Just consider your products or services, and then plug in your location and nearby locations to cast a wide net of local search terms that could show up in a voice search.
4. Consider your online reputation
Just like a poor online reputation can affect regular search rankings, it can also affect your voice search rankings. Make sure that your business is highly regarded online and has positive reviews and testimonials on your website and other sites.
If you have a Google My Business listing (which you should for a local business), it’s essential to have at least 4 stars and preferably 5 stars.
If your online reputation has been damaged in some way, it might be a good idea to hire a reputation management service to help make things right.
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5. Train your staff for the shift
Your staff should be trained for any changes in the business landscape, but it’s still worth mentioning to ensure they are ready and everyone is on the same page. Make sure content creators, account managers, and anyone else who might be involved with voice search directly or indirectly, understand what it is and why it is crucial.
Providing ongoing training as the world of voice search continues to evolve is also critical so that the entire company can stay ahead of the curve.
6. Get found using plain, simple language
One of the most important elements of getting ready for voice search is using the same type of language and phrasing that people use when they speak. When posing a search query via voice search, most people use the most simple and direct words possible.
There is rarely an attempt to be articulate or refined or to use flowery language as many do with the written word.
This concept is something to keep in mind when performing your initial content audit and something to consider moving forward with the content you produce.
7. Make your content relevant
It’s also important to produce content that is relevant to the people you want to find it and to voice search queries you want to rank for.
Keep the content targeted and relevant and you likely will be rewarded with higher rankings in SERPs, and you’ll gain more traction in the growing voice search universe.
Closing thoughts on voice search
There is no question that voice search is becoming more and more prevalent, but it doesn’t need to be a pain point for your small business. With a little education, some training, and the implementation of useful tools and techniques, you can be among the leaders and make voice search work for you.