Are you one of the millions of Americans who own a smartphone? Then you’re probably aware of voice search. You hold down a button on your phone, ask a question out loud, and voilà! In a matter of seconds, your phone gives you an answer.
The New Language of Voice Search
However, Siri doesn’t just magically have all the answers. Instead, your phone’s virtual assistant transmits your question directly to a search engine (most likely Google or Bing, but we’ll refer to Google from now on for simplicity). Then, the search engine bases its search on the exact words you spoke: “Where can I find someone to fix my fridge overnight?” Google can’t just plug in a keyword and a town name anymore and find matching webpages, because that’s not how people are searching. Now, due to the natural, human language of voice searches, it has to focus on context, synonyms, and the overall relevance of a page’s contents. (For our fellow nerds, this process is called Latent Semantic Indexing, or LSI.) This is a major shift in the way search engines operate. We’ve written about the growth of voice searches before, and the issue is only becoming more urgent. Today, fewer and fewer people manually type in the old “[keyword] + [location]” formula to find local businesses. Instead, more people are using their phone’s voice search for complex requests. And it doesn’t even have to technically be a question anymore. Your search could be a casual statement like, “Hey Siri, I need a plumber in Ann Arbor who’s not that expensive.” You can just start talking to your phone’s virtual assistant, and it will find what you need. What a time to be alive, as they say! But what does any of this have to do with your local business? Let’s just say, you may want to rewrite your website ASAP. Keep reading to see what we mean!
Get Used to Voice Search. It’s Here to Stay.
As flashy and trendy as voice search may seem to some of us, the majority of experts assert it’s not going anywhere. On the contrary, they believe it’s the “next big era of computing.” As marketing specialist Simon Penson recently wrote:
“My view is that voice is not just an add-on, but an entirely new way of interacting with the machines that add value to our lives. It is the next big era of computing.”
So, as exciting as these advances may be, you can’t ignore what voice search means for your business’s website and web presence. Google wants to satisfy its users who rely on voice searches, so it now favors websites that meet new requirements. If you want your website to rank highly in local searches, it must be:
- Well written
- Chock full of content
Truthfully, Prospect Genius has always viewed well written content as a non-negotiable trait for high-ranking websites. However, in reality, there used to be some wiggle room. Those days are over. Today, if your website’s content is sparse and only written for a few, basic search terms, you’ll get a fraction of your potential traffic. You simply won’t have the right language to match natural voice searches.
How to Evolve Your Site for Voice Searches
This begs the question: What does the “right language” look like? Here’s where things get interesting. Ten or twelve years ago, SEO was easy. All you had to do was stuff as many industry keywords, town names, and zip codes into your website’s footers as possible. Then, you could just write a sentence or two on each page with some bare-bones information about your company. If you did those two things, you had a decent chance of ranking. While the keyword-stuffing looked sloppy and spammy to the human eye, it didn’t matter because it appealed to search engines. It was a lazy way to work, but it was often enough to let you squeak by. However, thanks to the rise of voice search, today’s SEO writing is far more complicated. The language search engines speak is becoming remarkably similar to the language we humans speak. You also get penalized for spam tactics like keyword-stuffing. So, you know that well-written content our team has always prioritized? Well, it’s no longer a bonus—it’s a requirement. Today, your website must have lots of content that clearly spells out:
- What your company does
- Where you’re located
- How you differ from competitors
- What your products and/or services entail
- And much more
Furthermore, each page has to be fully fleshed out (we recommend a 350-word minimum) so it contains as many related words and details as possible. Think of it this way: The more you write, the more opportunities for Google’s natural language processor to find your site. For example, let’s say you want to show up in the search results for someone’s “overnight fridge repair.” Your content should contain related phrases like “available for emergencies,” “same-day service,” “after-hours appointments,” and so on. You can’t always predict the exact phrasing people will use in their voice searches, but you can vary your language enough that Google picks up on all those helpful synonyms.
To DIY or Hire Professional Writers?
We’ll be totally honest here. These new writing requirements are a lot of work. If you are comfortable with writing, know how to do keyword research, and are fairly confident in your language skills, then you’re probably in good shape to write your own website content. However, if you’re like most local service providers, you spend your time either honing your trade or hanging out with your family. You likely don’t have the 8+ hours it will take to write your entire website from scratch—never mind the extra time it takes to research local keywords and learn best practices for SEO. That’s why many local businesses hire professionals to build their website or to do ghost writing for their existing site.
Get Writing Services From Prospect Genius
At Prospect Genius, well-written, human-optimized content has been our trademark since day one. When we started 10 years ago, we could’ve taken the easy way out and relied on keyword-stuffing, which is what a lot of our competitors did. But we took the extra time and did the extra work to optimize our content for real people, not just search engines. The result is that all of our current clients are already in terrific shape for the takeover of voice search. If you don’t have lots of good-quality content on your site yet, give us a call and see how we can help!