What is voice search? It’s what happens when you ask a question out loud to a device, such as your phone, your Alexa, your Google Assistant, Siri, or who knows … your refrigerator? With so many smart devices today, it’s hard to tell. What we do know is more and more people are becoming comfortable asking questions aloud of their phones and other devices.
In many cases, it’s just plain pragmatic. It’s much quicker to say, “Siri, Set an alarm for every Tuesday at 1 p.m. to call Mike,” than to fiddle with all of the screens and settings required to set an alarm, set a recurring schedule for it, and change the label so you know why the alarm is going off next Tuesday.
And it’s safer to say, “Navigate to the nearest coffee shop,” than to type on your phone in the car.
It’s no surprise more searches are being made via voice.
If you’re a business owner with one or more physical storefronts, this is a big deal. Voice search is different from a web search done by typing. Here are two of the main concerns you now must face:
For the most part, voice assistants and smartphones are programmed to give one answer, or at least one answer at a time. You may receive one result and the device will ask, “Would you like me to try that one?” If you say, “No,” you’ll receive another option. But the first result you receive isn’t like a page of 10 Google results spread out before you. It’s one choice for you to accept or reject. Being number two is not great.
For local businesses, the voice search results are pulled from the same sources as normal web searches, but are more carefully ranked by “confidence.” Since Alexa is only going to give you one choice at a time, she’s going to be darn sure the coffee shop is actually nearby and open. As a small business, you want the sources Alexa relies on to be so accurate that your confidence ranking is very high. At SiteInSight, we can achieve this for you through our partnerships in the local search industry.
You may have noticed (sometimes to your dismay) that when you ask your device to call or navigate to a store, the voice robot doesn’t simply list the nearest store and ask if that’s the right one. He or she says, “There’s a City Bank near you about 1.5 miles to your west on North Street that is open until 5 p.m. and has an average of 3 out of 5 stars.” Frankly, I don’t care how many stars my bank branch is getting these days … I just want to call there without touching my phone while I’m driving. But the fact is, these review ratings are being pushed onto users who aren’t even asking for them. They are becoming more prominent because they are part of every voice search result.
If you are a business with poor online reviews or no online reviews, make it a priority to start a campaign to improve your online reputation. At SiteInSight, we have a program for that, too. It works, it’s measurable, and its easy for your customers.
Voice search is here to stay. Make sure you are well positioned.