The Rise of Voice Search: Optimizing Your Small Business for Voice Assistants
Voice search is not new. It started more than 70 years ago, in 1952, when Bell Laboratories created the first voice recognition device named Audrey. Since then, there have been many iterations, working to perfect source filter models of speech, understand more and more words and decipher various tones. Today, voice search is quite prevalant through voice assistant devices like Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana. In fact, there are 4.2 billion voice assistants in use as of 2023.
As the reliance on voice-activated virtual assistants continues to grow, it’s crucial for small businesses to adapt their marketing strategies to capture voice-based traffic. If they don’t, they’re missing out on sales – it’s that simple. To put it into perspective, voice search is expected to drive over $40 billion in sales by the end of 2023. Enough said.
In this article, we will explore the various facets of voice search, from understanding its mechanics to implementing effective strategies for small businesses. Small businesses need to grasp this new way to search now for the simple fact that a major surge in “near me” and local searches currently make up 76% of voice searches – and that’s set to triple in the next year as users look for local business information directly. And that’s valuable traffic – 88% of consumers who conduct a local search on their smartphone visit or call a store within a day.
So get your strategy in line now to take advantage of all these people looking for your business.
Understanding Voice Search
Voice search is a revolutionary shift in how people seek information in the digital age. While it may have once seemed like a futuristic concept, it’s now an integral part of our daily lives, driven by the proliferation of voice-activated virtual assistants. To appreciate its significance, think about this: There are currently more than 1 billion voice searches every month.
The rapid growth of voice assistant technology and the publics’ fondness for it is drastically impacting how businesses can connect with their audience.
Natural Language Queries
One of the fundamental differences between voice search and traditional text-based searches lies in the way queries are framed. When users interact with voice-activated virtual assistants, they tend to use natural, conversational language. Instead of typing in a succinct keyword like “Italian restaurants,” they might ask, “Where can I find Italian restaurants nearby?” Or “near me.”
This shift to more conversational, long-tail queries is reshaping the way businesses need to structure their online content and expand their SEO strategies. To optimize for voice search, it’s essential to align your content with these natural language queries, tailoring your keywords and phrases accordingly. Keep in mind, the average voice search result is 29 words in length.
Proliferation of Voice-Activated Devices
The rise of voice search can be attributed to the widespread adoption of voice-activated devices like smartphones, smart speakers, and even smart TVs. As previously mentioned, there are 4.2 billion voice assistants in use, and that number will double and hit 8.4 billion by 2024.
With these devices readily available and integrated into our daily routines, the convenience of searching by speaking has led to its increased usage. People are turning to it not just for general queries, it’s also for specific, personalized information.
Voice search is inherently user-centric. When people use voice-activated devices, they expect immediate, relevant, and personalized responses. This means businesses must focus on providing the most direct, accurate, and helpful answers to user queries. Take the approach of answering live questions at a customer service booth and direct your strategies accordingly.
Optimizing for voice search isn’t merely about ranking high on search engine results pages (SERPs); it’s about becoming the go-to source of information for voice assistants. This requires content that directly addresses the user’s needs and queries, making your website the preferred choice for voice assistants to pull information from.
Understanding these key aspects of this new way to search sets the stage for small businesses to revamp their website and content optimization. It’s not just a technology trend, it’s a fundamental shift in how businesses and consumers engage with information digitally. By embracing this change and making the necessary adjustments, small businesses can position themselves to become more relevant and thrive in the voice-activated era.
27% of people use voice search on mobile.
36.6% of US residents use voice assistants.
More than 50% of the adults reported that they use voice search daily.
Why Voice Search Matters for Small Businesses
Other than the tremendous sales opportunities voice search offers small businesses, there’s more to love about it. It’s not merely a passing trend; it’s a significant transformation in how people search for information. Small businesses that understand its importance can gain a competitive edge. Voice search is becoming a routine part of everyday life – 72% of people who own a voice-activated speaker say that it has become a part of their daily regimen. Globally, more than 27% of people use Google voice search on mobile devices. 54% of people trust a product recommendation from a voice assistant, while only 49% trust a salesperson.
Here are some other reasons this matters for small businesses:
A Shift in Consumer Behavior
The statistics above show that voice-activated devices have seamlessly integrated into our daily lives. People no longer need to type out searches or click through websites to find information. Instead, they rely on the convenience of voice search to get quick, accurate answers to their queries.
Small businesses that acknowledge this shift in consumer behavior can position themselves to meet their audience where they are, rather than waiting for them to find their business. By optimizing for voice search, you’re making your business accessible to a growing segment of the market that prefers using voice-activated devices for their daily tasks. And you’re giving your business a fair shot among larger companies with brand recognition – especially with the “shop small” and “keep it local” trends.
Immediate and Relevant Responses
People who search with voice expect immediate, relevant, and concise responses to their queries. When someone asks their voice assistant a question, they’re often looking for a straightforward answer or a solution to a problem.
For small businesses, this means that voice search optimization isn’t just about ranking high on search engine results pages; it’s about providing the most direct and helpful information to your potential customers. If your business can offer quick and precise responses to these search queries, you’re more likely to capture the attention of potential customers at the moment they’re making decisions.
As voice search continues to grow, small businesses that adapt and optimize for it can gain a competitive advantage. By recognizing and acting on this trend early, you can establish your business as a forward-thinking and customer-centric organization. And you can gain marketshare.
It can also level the playing field for small businesses. With the right optimization strategies, you can compete with larger enterprises for visibility on voice-activated devices. This presents an opportunity to attract local customers and engage with a broader audience.
Voice search has become an integral part of consumers’ daily routines. Small businesses that understand its importance and act on this trend can enhance their visibility, connect with their audience, and stay competitive in an ever-evolving digital landscape.
Digital Assistants Breakdown
|Digital Assistants||Percentage Of People|
Voice Search SEO Strategies
To effectively optimize your small business for voice search, it’s crucial to understand and implement the right strategies. By catering to its unique characteristics, you can enhance your online visibility and connect with a broader audience.
Consider these statistics:
- 58% of consumers have used it to find local business information in the last 12 months.
- Voice searches are three times more likely to be used for local search queries compared to text searches.
- Only 18% of people say they wouldn’t use it for local business information.
- 71% of consumers prefer to conduct searches via voice instead of typing.
Adapting strategies to harness these users can only benefit small business by grabbing local customers who are looking for products and services near them. Here are some strategies that can make a substantial impact on your optimization efforts:
Long-tail Keywords and Conversational Queries
Unlike traditional text-based searches, voice searches tend to be more conversational and use long-tail keywords. For instance, someone might type “pizza near me” for a text-based search, but for voice search, they’d ask, “Where can I find the best pizza nearby?”
Optimizing for these types of searches involves incorporating these conversational queries into your content. Long-tail keywords and natural language phrases should be integrated into your website’s content to align with the way people use voice-activated devices.
Featured Snippets and Structured Data
Voice assistants often rely on featured snippets to provide quick answers to user queries. When users ask a question, voice assistants may pull information from featured snippets to provide a direct response.
For SEO, consider structuring your content to be more likely to be featured in these snippets. This involves providing clear and concise answers to common questions related to your industry or business, as featured snippets often come from well-structured, informative content.
So what’s a featured snippet? Here’s an example:
Voice Search Query: “How to make a perfect cup of coffee at home?”
Featured Snippet: “Making the perfect cup of coffee at home requires a few simple steps. First, start with high-quality coffee beans. Grind them to a medium consistency. Next, heat water to just below boiling, about 200°F or 93°C. Pour the hot water over the coffee grounds and let it bloom for 30 seconds. Then, continue pouring water in a circular motion to saturate all the grounds. Allow the coffee to steep for about 4 minutes. Finally, plunge the French press or use a fine-mesh strainer to separate the grounds. Enjoy your perfect cup of coffee!”
In this example, when a user asks a voice assistant how to make the perfect cup of coffee at home, the voice assistant might pull the featured snippet from a well-structured and informative article or website content. The snippet provides a concise and clear answer to the user’s query, making it a valuable resource for voice search users seeking immediate guidance. Featured snippets are designed to deliver quick and relevant information in response to user questions, making them a valuable source of information for voice searches. Having a strategic, well-developed FAQ section on your website can help create valuable snippets for a voice assistant to reference. Collaborate with your customer service team to find out the most asked questions and develop featured snippets to post in your FAQ section.
Local SEO for Voice Search
Optimizing for local voice search is especially critical for small businesses. As the statistic mentioned earlier indicates, a significant portion of these searches are used to find local businesses and information. To be successful in this aspect of voice search SEO, you can:
- Ensure that your Google My Business listing is complete and up-to-date.
- Encourage customers to leave reviews and ratings for your business, as these play a significant role in local voice search rankings.
- Maintain consistent Name, Address, and Phone Number (NAP) information across all online directories and platforms.
- There’s more information about all these bullet points below.
By optimizing for local voice search, you can improve your chances of attracting nearby customers who are actively looking for businesses like yours. These statistics prove local search optimization success:
78% of local searches on mobile result in an offline purchase.
46% of Google searches are for local businesses.
28% of local searches result in a purchase within 24 hours.
Local SEO leads have a close rate of almost 15%.
Voice Search and Local SEO
Voice search and local SEO are intertwined in a way that presents significant opportunities for small businesses. As the adoption of voice search continues to grow, optimizing for local searches is paramount, particularly for small, community-focused businesses. Consider this: 46% of voice search users look for local business information on a daily basis.
The high percentage of queries dedicated to finding local businesses and information signifies that local businesses have a tremendous opportunity to enhance their visibility and attract nearby customers through local voice search optimization. Here’s how you can leverage this:
Optimizing Google My Business Listings
An essential step in local voice search optimization is ensuring that your Google My Business (GMB) listing is complete, accurate, and regularly updated. When users ask voice assistants about local businesses, the information often comes from GMB listings. This makes it vital to include details such as your business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, and high-quality images. Google prioritizes businesses with detailed and up-to-date GMB listings when responding to local voice search queries.
Encouraging Customer Reviews and Ratings
Positive reviews and high ratings have a significant impact on local voice search rankings. Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your GMB profile, as they can enhance your online reputation and increase your visibility to potential customers using voice search. Actively engage with reviews, respond to comments, and address concerns to build trust within your community. The more active you are with the community, the more the community is aware of your dedication and focus to an approach of delighting the customer.
NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) Consistency
Maintaining consistency in your business’s NAP information across all online directories, review sites, and social platforms is a fundamental aspect of local SEO and voice search optimization. Inaccurate or inconsistent NAP data can confuse both search engines and users. A consistent NAP helps improve your business’s visibility and trustworthiness, making it more likely to appear in voice search results.
Including these local SEO strategies into your voice search optimization efforts can significantly enhance your small business’s visibility to local customers using voice-activated devices. They’re easy and straight-forward tactics and best practices that can enhance your visibility and increase your SERPs. By prioritizing local voice search, your business can better connect with the community it serves and stay competitive.
Content Creation for Voice Search
Creating voice-search-friendly content is a key aspect of optimizing your website for voice search. The best way to do this is to adapt your content to the unique nature of voice queries, which tend to be more conversational and question-based. Afterall, 71% of people prefer to use voice search to ask questions. Understanding this user behavior is pivotal to crafting content that meets their needs and expectations.
Here’s how you can create content that resonates with voice search users:
Natural, Conversational Tone
Content tailored for voice search should be written in a natural, conversational tone. Unlike text-based queries, which often consist of terse keywords, voice queries mimic everyday speech. Thus, your content should reflect this conversational style.
For instance, if your business specializes in selling hiking gear, instead of optimizing for keywords like “best hiking boots,” you should consider content that answers questions like, “What are the best hiking boots for a weekend hike?” This not only aligns with user behavior, it also improves your chances of being the preferred source for voice assistants.
Addressing Frequently Asked Questions
Voice search users frequently turn to voice assistants for answers to common questions. To cater to this, identify the frequently asked questions (FAQs) in your industry and create content that provides comprehensive and concise answers.
For example, if you operate a small business marketing solutions SaaS company, you can create content that addresses questions like “What are the best marketing softwares for small business” or “What’s the price range for small business marketing software?” By directly addressing these questions in your content, you become a valuable resource for voice search users.
The “5 Ws and 1 H:” Crafting Content that Answers “Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How” Questions
To optimize for voice search, your content should answer the six fundamental questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. These questions often form the basis of voice search queries.
For example, if you run an independent insurance agency, you can create content that answers questions like:
- Who: “Who offers the best independent insurance coverage in [Your Location]?”
- What: “What types of insurance does [Your Agency Name] provide?”
- When: “When is the best time to review and update my insurance policy?”
- Where: “Where can I find affordable insurance options near me?”
- Why: “Why is it crucial to have independent insurance coverage?”
- How: “How can I get a quote for independent insurance from [Your Agency Name]?”
By addressing these questions comprehensively, you’re more likely to match the content that voice assistants seek to provide to users.
Incorporating these content creation strategies into your voice search optimization efforts positions your small business to align with the user behavior prevalent in voice search. Your content becomes not only informative, but it’s also readily accessible to voice assistants, making your business a top choice for users seeking answers and solutions via voice search.
Given that a large percentage of voice searches occur on mobile devices, it’s essential to prioritize mobile optimization. 61% of mobile searchers are more likely to contact a local business if they have a mobile-friendly site.
Adopt a responsive web design that ensures your site looks and functions well on mobile devices. Google prioritizes sites with responsive web design, recognizing and rewarding them for providing a seamless and user-friendly experience across various devices, which ultimately contributes to improved search rankings.
Mobile Site Speed
Mobile users expect websites to load quickly. Slow loading times can result in higher bounce rates, negatively impacting your voice search rankings. Not only that, Google favors sites with fast mobile site speed, valuing their commitment to delivering a smooth and efficient user experience, a factor that positively influences search rankings and enhances overall website performance.
Prioritize user experience by simplifying navigation, using easily clickable buttons, and ensuring a smooth browsing experience. Google values sites that prioritize user experience, appreciating their commitment to providing visitors with a seamless, intuitive, and engaging online journey, a key factor influencing search rankings and overall site visibility.
U.S. Internet Users Voice Aasssistant Popularity for Finding and Purchasing Products
Voice Search Tools and Analytics
Much like everything in marketing these days, to excel in voice search optimization, it’s essential to leverage tools and analytics that provide insights, monitor performance, and guide your strategies. Embracing the right tools can make a substantial difference in your voice search efforts. In fact, 58% of companies say that the benefits of voice search investments have exceeded their expectations.
Here’s how the right tools and analytics can empower your voice search optimization:
Keyword Research Tools
Keyword research is foundational for voice search optimization. Tools like SpyFu, SEMrush, Ahrefs, or Google’s Keyword Planner can help you identify long-tail keywords and conversational phrases that align with voice search queries. These tools enable you to understand what your audience is asking, so you can tailor your content accordingly.
Voice Search SEO Software
Dedicated voice search SEO software, such as “AnswerThePublic” or “Serpstat,” can provide valuable insights into the questions people ask voice assistants. These tools generate a list of common queries related to your industry, enabling you to create content that directly addresses user needs.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console are essential for tracking the performance of your voice search optimization efforts. You can monitor key metrics, such as the volume of voice search traffic, the sources of this traffic, and the user engagement on voice search-optimized content. Analytics platforms allow you to measure the impact of your strategies and make data-driven decisions.
You should already have these two tools connected to your site, so it’s easy to add voice search metrics to your KPIs and monitor performance.
Voice Search Rank Tracking
Tools like Rank Ranger or Moz can help you monitor your voice search rankings and compare them to your competitors. Tracking your positions in voice search results provides actionable insights into how effective your optimization efforts are and where you might need to make adjustments.
User Behavior Analytics
Understanding user behavior on your website is vital for voice search optimization. Tools like Hotjar or Crazy Egg provide heatmaps, session recordings, and user survey features to help you gain insights into how voice search users navigate your site. By understanding user behavior, you can fine-tune your website and content for a better user experience.
By investing in these tools and analytics, you can stay at the forefront of voice search optimization and make informed decisions to enhance your small business’s online presence. These resources not only provide insights, they also streamline your optimization efforts, helping you achieve better results and stay ahead of your competition.
User Experience and Voice Search
Similar to the mobile optimization portion of this article, user experience plays a pivotal role in voice search optimization on your website. 53% of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load.
Optimize your website for speed, particularly on mobile devices. Fast-loading pages can improve user experience and voice search rankings.
Clear and Concise Information
Structure your content in a clear and concise manner, making it easy for voice assistants to understand and relay to users.
50% of people use voice search to research products.
40% of adults use voice search at least once a day.
25% of 16-25 year-olds use voice search on mobile
42% of people believe in the increasing importance of voice-activated searches
Voice Search and Ecommerce
Voice search is transforming the ecommerce landscape, and small online retailers have a tremendous opportunity to harness this trend for business growth. Consider this: 48% of voice assistant users have made a purchase through voice search. Juniper Research estimates that voice-based commerce will reach $80 billion annually in 2023.
This statistic shows the growing influence of voice search on consumer behavior, particularly for ecommerce. Here’s how small online retailers can leverage voice search to their advantage:
Voice search offers a convenient and frictionless shopping experience for users. When a customer asks their voice assistant to purchase a product, they often receive product recommendations and options for immediate purchase.
Small online retailers can optimize their ecommerce websites to accommodate voice-enabled shopping. This involves integrating voice shopping capabilities, providing detailed product information, and ensuring that the purchase process is straightforward and secure. By doing so, your online store can cater to the growing audience of voice shoppers.
Voice-Enabled Payment Options
As voice search usage expands, so do the opportunities for voice-activated payment methods. Voice-activated payments allow customers to make purchases quickly and securely through voice commands. These payments are already gaining popularity and are expected to become more prevalent as voice payment technology improves.
Small online retailers can explore integrating voice-activated payment options into their ecommerce platforms. By offering a seamless, voice-friendly payment experience, you can attract tech-savvy customers who prefer the convenience of voice-activated transactions. Click here. tolearn more.
Embracing voice search in ecommerce not only enhances the shopping experience for customers, it also expands your potential customer base. By providing voice-enabled shopping and payment options, small online retailers can tap into a growing market segment of voice-activated shoppers, fostering loyalty and driving sales in the process.
Voice search is no longer a technological novelty, it’s a fundamental shift in how consumers seek information and make purchasing decisions. The statistics highlighted throughout this article prove it.
The stats show the seismic shift in consumer behavior and the opportunities that voice search presents for small businesses to engage with their audience, especially in the context of local SEO, content creation, and ecommerce.
The rise of voice-activated devices, the preference for conversational queries, and the use of voice search for daily routines make it imperative for small businesses to adapt their marketing strategies to capture voice-based traffic.
By embracing the principles of voice search optimization, you can enhance your online visibility, attract local customers, and drive ecommerce sales. Furthermore, crafting content that aligns with user behavior and utilizing the right tools and analytics to measure effectiveness and guide decisions will empower you to stay ahead of your competition.
The future of small business marketing is intertwined with the rise of voice search. By adopting the principles outlined in this article, you’re not only meeting the needs of today’s tech-savvy consumers, you’re also future-proofing your business for the ever-evolving world of voice-activated virtual assistants. As voice search continues to shape the digital marketing landscape, it’s time for small businesses to embrace the change, stay competitive, and be at the forefront of innovation.
Doug Sabanosh is a marketing consultant and fractional marketing executive who specializes in developing revenue-growing marketing programs for small businesses. With more than 15 years of corporate marketing experience, including sales and marketing for Fortune 500 companies, he develops actionable strategies for websites, SEO, content, and creating a steady flow of lead volume. He understands small business because he runs a small business. He will take care of your marketing so you can take care of your business. Click here to learn more.
Unlike most marketing consultants, Doug is transparent and fully discloses costs and your RETURN ON INVESTMENT. If he doesn’t deliver, you don’t pay – it’s that simple.