Alex Porter, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Location3, shares his insights on voice search and what it means to local marketers.
Q: What can we expect from Google on the local search front? What might be some new opportunities from Google that local marketers should capitalize on?
A: We anticipate Google will provide more robust data across their platforms and apps that marketers can capitalize on. For instance, Google has announced the ability to pull Google My Business (GMB) Insights directly from the GMB API, as part of their API 3.2 release. This update makes it even easier for marketers to glean insights on consumer interactions like clicks on driving directions, store calls, and more that often result in store traffic and offline purchases.
We’ve actually been pulling these insights since 2015 at Location3, as one of the first five trusted API testers, and getting this level of data from Google on local search actions has been invaluable for brands aiming to measure the impact on their bottom line as it relates to a centralized local listings management strategy.
Q: How can local marketers be ready to use voice search?
A: Start with the basics. For example, local business listings aren’t always the most attractive piece of the marketing pie, but they represent one of the biggest ROIs for multi-location businesses. You have to have your local listings in order before you can get maximum value out of paid search, local SEO, and more across Google platforms. It’s pretty simple: either your business data is accurate, thus allowing more users to find your locations, or it’s inaccurate, and those same users go somewhere else to spend their dollars. Local marketers should regularly audit and optimize this data, and stop simply relying on automated tools to achieve the best performance. Technology is great, but technology alone won’t provide top rankings for your business locations.
Q: Will voice search on Google be ever-more important for marketers?
A: Marketers absolutely have to pay attention to voice search on Google — after all, it’s at least 20 percent of search in the Google ecosystem, and growing. With this growth, it’s inevitable that Google will optimize their algorithm for voice search, similar to their push last year with Advanced Mobile Pages. They’ll also likely begin to provide brands with analytics on how they perform in voice search, and we may even see paid media opportunities being tested on voice search.
Q: What voice search data could Google provide that would be valuable for local marketers? How could marketers harness that data?
A: Essentially, voice search data could function very similarly to mobile search or desktop search data. Marketers could see how their brands perform in voice search results, top voice search keywords, how voice search users interact with the brand, and more. Marketers can then use that data to optimize their content and their websites for voice search.
I strongly believe that location-based businesses will be in the best position to do just that, based on the depth of user search query data they already have. There’s a tremendous opportunity to optimize for ‘near me’ searches and provide search results that lead to mobile-responsive sites, polished business listings, and rich snippet content that ultimately sends the user through their front doors to purchase a product or service.
Q: What can local marketers do now to strategize their content for voice search SEO?
A: Local marketers will have to start optimizing content for voice searches – particularly ones that involve phrases like “near me” — in order to provide users with information that is both relevant and meaningful. That means varying forms of content tailored to user Q&As, as well as a distinct set of keywords and copy that may very well differ from non-voice mobile searches. This will help them capture more local search share for users that exhibit high-purchase intent, and convert them into customers.”