If you run a small business and think that voice search is irrelevant to you, think again. Taking advantage of this tool and investing now in voice search optimization will help ensure that your company stays relevant and is able to generate leads via the web in years to come.

There’s a good chance you’re familiar with the names Siri, Alexa and Cortana. While these might sound like the names of women you know, they’re actually virtual voice assistants that can help you scour the internet with simply the power of your voice. The proliferation of voice assistants has happened rapidly, as both voice command technology and A.I. have become increasingly advanced. However, voice command technology is not only being used to power internet-connected devices, like Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s iPhone. It is also being used as a general method of searching the internet — and it’s primed to become the most popular way that people browse the web.

The Rise in Voice Search

voice search optimization to be ready for the rise 10% 2016 to 50% in 2020

Voice search is more popular today than you might even realize — particularly with Millennials (and younger internet users). In fact, search studies have shown that more than 50 percent of U.S. teens use voice search daily, while 41 percent of adults rely on the technology every day. Over the course of 2016, the use of voice search grew from a statistical zero to 10 percent of all search volume done on the internet — and experts predict that by 2020, voice search will comprise at least half of all searches done on the web.

Experts aren’t exactly sure what led to the rapid rise in voice search popularity, but they believe it’s connected to the release of the Amazon Echo. Another reason voice search has become so popular is that it’s extremely convenient. A survey by KPCB revealed why people choose to use their voice to search rather than typing. The most popular reason was that their hands were occupied, while the second most popular reason was that they received faster results. The most popular places people are using voice search today are at home (43 percent of people) and in the car (36 percent of people).voice search optimization by location usage

A survey of 39 of the leading SEO experts in the world recently listed voice search as the third biggest SEO trend for 2017 and beyond. So, if you want to take advantage of this rapidly expanding trend, you should think about optimizing for voice search when creating your own digital footprint. Optimizing your content for voice isn’t exactly like optimizing it for browser-based search — and it’s important to understand the differences in order to attract traffic and generate leads.

Voice Search Optimization

… 3 Things Your Business Can Do Now

Now that you’re convinced of the importance of optimizing for voice search in the coming years, you’ll want to understand just how you can do that. Here are some helpful tips for small, local businesses who want to take advantage of people who are using voice search to look for businesses like theirs nearby.

1. Use More Natural Language

When you sit down to do a search on your web browser, you probably look for a shortened phrase or simply type in keywords. However, when people use voice search, they speak naturally — and it’s important to use that natural language in your content if you want to appear in results. For example, if you run a coffee shop in Boston, your potential customers who are looking for you via voice search are going to ask something like, “What is the best coffee shop in Boston?” (As opposed to what they would type into a web-based search engine, which would be something like “best coffee shop Boston.”) Try incorporating natural phrases into Q&A pages, subheaders and headlines on your site — they work naturally there.

2. Location Matters

People who use voice search are often looking for something that is in their geographic vicinity. For example, if you run a dry cleaning business, the customers that are looking for you are probably searching a “dry cleaner near me.” For that reason, it’s essential that your website and blog clearly designate where your business is. You should have your address on your homepage, as well as on a contact us page within your site. You should also make sure your business is listed (correctly) within online directories — especially the big ones, like Yelp, Facebook, Google, Bing and more.

3. Update Your Technology

Marketing technology can really help you master your online marketing and make sure you’re taking advantage of the power of things like search engines, social media platforms, email and more. If you own a dentist office and you’ve only relied on an in-office laptop and a marketing staff member to do your social media and blog-writing, it may be time to invest in marketing technology that specializes in helping you with voice search. Using a platform that can do things like help you find the right phrases to optimize for will ensure you’re capitalizing on the technology’s popularity. One example of a platform that can help is CallRail. CallRail helps you analyze where your calls came from (what search phrase was used) — and whether that person used a voice command to call your business from a voice search result.

If you run a small, local business, that doesn’t mean you can discount the power of the internet. And, as voice search becomes one of the most popular ways people search the web, you should ensure that your business is ready to take advantage of that traffic — and ultimately bring in more customers.