Local Voice Search in 2020: How to Edge The Competition Today!

Voice search is taking over the way that people find your local business. Forbes reported in 2018 that comScore predicted half of all internet searches would happen via voice search by 2020.

They also predicted that 30% of searches would happen without the use of a screen.
It looks like they were right.
A lot of the searching happening today involves calling out to a nearby device to ask for directions, input, and information. How is this new way of searching affecting how people find your local business?

The biggest challenge of local voice search results is that devices deliver a single result. Instead of hoping to rank on the first page of search results, you now need to aim to be the first and only result when people are searching for a local business like yours. It’s a challenge that’s overcome when you know how to optimize your business correctly for each voice search assistant.

How Customers Use Local Voice Search

Understanding the devices customers use for voice search will help you optimize your business more effectively. There are a variety of voice-search enabled devices, but the biggest market shares belong to:

  • Apple Siri
  • Google Assistant
  • Amazon Alexa
  • Microsoft Cortana

Each of these voice search services appears on different devices and platforms.
For instance, you can access Apple’s Siri on an iPhone or iPad. Google’s Assistant comes standard on Pixel phones as well as the Google search homepage.

Users can access voice search in tablets, watches, smart TVs, and voice search devices. With so many ways to access voice search functionality, it’s no surprise that more people are putting it to use.

These four voice-activated search platforms share a relatively equal share of the market. If you want to make sure your business is in the voice search results, you’ll need to optimize for all four major platforms.

Three Methods For Optimizing Local Business Voice Search

To make the most of your optimization efforts, you need to understand how people use voice search. Then you’ll need to think about how those different methods apply to your local business. First, let’s look at the three types of local voice searches:

Discovery

Example: What is the best coffee shop near me?

People use discovery searches when they want to learn more about the businesses in their area. This is probably the most important search method to optimize for when you own a local business. That’s because if people are searching for a business like yours it’s because they want to use your services right now. If you can be in the local voice search results, you’ll enjoy a huge conversion rate.

Instruct

Example: Make a reservation at Steve’s Steakhouse for tonight at 6 pm. 

Voice search assistants can do a lot more than simply read search results. They can send messages, place calls, and even work with other apps to do things like create reservations. If your business isn’t optimized to help the voice assistant with those tasks, though, you could end up losing business to a competitor who does.

Learn

Example: What are single-origin coffee beans?

Someone uses this type of voice search when they want specific information on a topic. While they may not be looking to use the services of your business, it can be an opportunity to position yourself as a local authority on the subject.

How to Optimize Your Business For Local Voice Search

Optimizing for Amazon Alexa

device-capable-of-local-voice-search-amazon-alexa-on-white-surface
  • Amazon pulls their search results from two major sources, Yelp and Yext. You’ll want to make sure you optimize your business on both platforms to ensure you are showing up in the right voice search results. Log in and make sure your business’s information is correct, up-to-date, and completely filled out.

Optimizing for Apple Siri

  • Unsurprisingly, Siri pulls a lot of the data for voice search results from Apple Maps. You’ll want to log into Apple Maps Connect and ensure all your business information is up-to-date.
    Apple Maps Connect doesn’t list reviews, though. For that, Siri uses Yelp. You’ll want to make sure your Yelp information is accurate here, as well. 

Optimizing for Google Assistant

  • Google Assistant pulls its search results directly from Google My Business. You’ll want to log in, claim your business, and get all the information filled out. The Google Assistant pulls photos and reviews from this same listing, as well.

Optimize for Microsoft Cortana

  • Cortana’s results are coming from Bing. While very few people use Bing on their smartphones, a lot of people are using it on their desktops and laptops. That’s because it’s built into the Windows ecosystem.
    You’ll want to make sure your Bing Places business profile is up-to-date. Cortana also looks at Yelp for reviews and photos, so make sure you are up-to-date there as well.

The Number One Thing to Do to Optimize Local Voice Search Results

If you look at the advice above, you’ll see that three of the four major voice search platforms are pulling information from the same place: Yelp. Optimizing your business’s Yelp profile is critical for getting into voice search results. It’s worth taking some time to sit down and make sure your Yelp profile is as strong as possible by:

  • Claiming your Yelp profile. If you haven’t already, do this immediately. This will allow you to take control of the information that’s shared about your business.
  • Add all your business information. Make sure the basics are accurate and up-to-date, including phone numbers, addresses, and hours. 
  • Upload photos of your business. You don’t necessarily need to invest in professional photos, but you can. In any case, make sure the photos are well-lit with both exterior and interior shots.

You may want to consider upgrading your Yelp to include controlling the slideshow, too. When you do this, you can then choose the default image for your business. That image is what Siri, Alexa, and Cortana all share as the first impression for your business. It’s worth paying a little extra to make sure it’s a good first impression.

Need Help Optimizing Your Business for Local Voice Search?

We can help. Based in Cleveland, Ohio, LocalBizGuru is a full-service digital marketing agency specializing in increasing traffic and local visibility for small businesses. 
Get in touch with our digital marketing team today and we can help get your business into more local voice search results.

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Nachum Langsner

Nachum Langsner

Nachum Langsner is the Co-Founder and CMO of LocalBizGuru - A full-service digital marketing agency located in Cleveland, OH. He has over 10 years of experience in the SEO industry and is a frequent presenter and instructor of SEO seminars for entrepreneurs and small business owners in the Greater Cleveland area for organizations such as Jumpstart, the Better Business Bureau, COSE, and the Ohio SBDC at CSU.

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