Voice search has become an integral part of our daily lives, with virtual assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa becoming more sophisticated and useful. As a result, people are increasingly using voice queries to find local businesses and services.
To effectively adapt to this local SEO trend, businesses, marketers, and SEO professionals must ensure that optimizing their online presence for voice search is part of their overall local search engine optimization strategy.
Why Optimizing for Voice Search in Local SEO Matters
Compared to organic SEO, local SEO is much more time sensitive — people performing local searches are much more likely to be looking for "right-now" solutions. In other words, they're probably looking for a business near them to visit very soon, or to book an appointment with right away. This is especially true for people using voice search.
Since voice search is a relatively hands-free way to perform search queries, many users take advantage of voice search functions on their mobile devices while they're on the go, whether in their cars, on public transportation, or walking around a city, town, or neighborhood.
People who are already out and about, perhaps running errands, commuting, or enjoying some leisure time, are much more likely to stop by or call a local business to book an appointment right after discovering it via a voice search.
So, businesses who optimize their online presence for voice search are able to reach these potential customers who are more likely to convert into near-term sales than people performing text-based searches.
What Is Local SEO Voice Search Optimization?
Optimizing for voice search in local SEO is very similar to optimizing for other types of search, with a few key differences that tailor it to the types of queries people make when using voice search tools.
There may even be some overlap between voice search and text search optimizations because people might use similar search terms, but, in general, voice searches tend to be more conversational in tone.
For instance, someone looking for a Mexican restaurant near them to have lunch at might type a search phrase like "Mexican restaurant near me" or "best Mexican restaurant nearby" into Google. On the other hand, someone performing the same search using a voice query might say something like "Hey Siri, what's the best Mexican restaurant near me?" or "Alexa, can you find me a Mexican restaurant nearby to have lunch at?"
As you can see, both of these queries include the same short-tail keywords: "Mexican restaurant near me" and "Mexican restaurant nearby," but the voice search queries contain long-tail versions of these keywords, as well.
Since people tend to talk to their virtual voice assistants as if they were people, their queries are usually more complete sentences (either commands or questions), which presents unique voice search optimization opportunities for local SEO.
To capture as much of your target audience as possible in local search, it's important to optimize for both short-tail local keywords and the types of long-tail local keywords used in voice search queries.
10 Tips on How To Optimize for Voice Search in Local SEO:
- Research Local Long-Tail Keywords
- Look for Conversational Search Phrases
- Find Question-Based Search Terms
- Analyze SERPs for Different Voice Search Tools
- Incorporate Voice Search Keywords into Content
- Answer Common Voice Search Questions
- Optimize Your Website for Mobile
- Ensure Your Google Business Profile Is Optimized
- List Your Business on Different Local Directories
- Track Local SEO Performance
Research Local Long-Tail Keywords
The first step towards doing local SEO for voice search is to perform keyword research for long-tail keywords that people are likely to use when making voice queries.
While these types of keywords tend to have far lower search volumes than more general short-tail keywords, they are also usually less competitive, so it may be easier to rank high for them, and certainly to outrank any competitors who aren't optimizing for voice search.
Look for Conversational Search Phrases
When performing long-tail keyword research, look for the types of conversational search phrases that people are more likely to use in voice searches. For example, "tell me what the most highly rated Italian restaurant in Seattle is" or "list a few places to get my oil changed nearby."
Find Question-Based Search Terms
When looking for those conversational phrases, you should pay special attention to long-tail keywords phrased as questions — i.e., anything starting with "how," "what," "where," "why," or "when."
For local search engine optimization, you want to focus heavily on any of those search terms that start with "where" — questions like "where is the best Italian food in Seattle?" or "where can I get my oil changed nearby?"
Pro Tip: Use Google's autocomplete function to quickly get some ideas for relevant questions people ask Google.
Analyze SERPs for Different Voice Search Tools
Although Google dominates the local search market and many voice assistant tools use it as their default search engine, certain voice search tools use different search engines to answer queries. For example, Alexa uses Bing to answer search queries.
So, it's important to analyze various search engine results pages when doing local SEO for voice search to understand how they work and help you cover all your bases when making voice search optimizations.
Incorporate Voice Search Keywords into Content
After you have a solid list of long-tail keywords, including a mix of conversational phrases and question-based search terms, to optimize for, it's time to work on incorporating those local keywords naturally into your content.
Start by auditing the existing content you have and looking for easy opportunities to add some of these long-tail keywords.
For example, if you're doing local SEO for a restaurant and one of the voice search keywords you want to target is "where is the best Italian food in Seattle?," you might add a heading like "Have You Ever Wondered Where the Best Italian Food in Seattle Is?" to an existing landing page or blog post.
After adding long-tail voice search keywords to existing content wherever possible, you can start creating new content to include more of them. A couple of ways to do this are to write locally-relevant blog posts or create local landing pages related to specific business locations and queries.
Answer Common Voice Search Questions
Another great way to incorporate voice search-related keywords into your website content and improve your rankings for them is to directly answer common voice search questions on your site. You can do this easily in blog posts, using question-based keywords as headings, or even by adding a FAQ section to your site.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile
Considering that 1 in 4 people perform voice searches from their mobile devices, optimizing your website for mobile becomes even more important when doing local SEO for voice search.
Optimizing for mobile includes things like improving page load times and ensuring all your site design is responsive (adapts to fit the screens of different mobile devices).
Search engines love mobile-friendly sites and prioritize them in rankings, so the better your site's mobile experience is, the more likely it is to show up high in local search results, especially local voice search results.
Ensure Your Google Business Profile Is Optimized
We can't stress enough how important Google Business Profile is for local SEO. Optimizing your Google Business Profile (Google Maps listing) is the only way to have a shot at appearing in the top search results on Google, known as the local pack (which Google pulls from Google Maps).
While it's harder to include long-tail keywords in Google Business Profile content, you can try to work them into the business description, responses to reviews, and anywhere else where you can do so naturally — don't force it or "stuff" keywords in!
List Your Business on Different Local Directories
Although Google is indeed the most important online business directory, listing your business on smaller, more niche directories can also have a positive impact when optimizing for voice search in local SEO.
Remember that not all voice assistant applications pull search results from Google, and therefore they use other local directories as alternatives to Google Maps when answering voice queries.
When listing your business on different local directories, make sure all the business information is accurate and matches across directories to maintain NAP consistency and benefit from consistent local citations.
Track Local SEO Performance
Last, but certainly not least, don't forget to track your local SEO performance after making optimizations for voice search queries.
Improving local SEO and outranking competitors in local search results requires constant work, so make sure you're using a local rank tracker like Local Falcon to track your performance and identify new optimization opportunities. Doing so will enable you to more efficiently keep up with the ever-changing competition and local search algorithms.
Optimizing for voice search is an important local SEO best practice that no business owner or digital marketing professional should overlook.
Even though voice search still accounts for a lower volume of local searches than text search, the traffic it generates can be considered very valuable in terms of warm leads, as people performing voice queries are looking for immediate solutions.
Incorporating the tips outlined above into your local SEO strategy can help you optimize for local voice searches and outrank competitors for the less competitive types of long-tail keywords that people use in voice queries.