How Does Voice Search Impact Local Business?

How Does Voice Search Impact Local Business?

Big Ideas

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July 23 2019
Big Ideas

It’s estimated that by the end of this year 50% of all searches will be conducted via voice search. With no human eyeballs to choose which search result looks the most genuine, it’s on you to ensure your business is actively and correctly recognized by virtual assistants.

What is Voice Search?

In short, voice search is when a user says a voice command to search the internet, a website, or an app. The most popular ways users are using voice search are through smart devices, which includes phones, speakers, watches, and TVs.

Voice search is receiving massive support from many tech giants: Google and Spotify recently made headlines with their partnership to give away Google Home Minis to Canadian premium Spotify subscribers.

Most voice searches that are conducted through a virtual assistant are done through one of the following companies’ offerings:

Apple: Hey, Siri

Apple’s Siri was the first virtual assistant ​that was made commercially available to the greater population with its original release on the iPhone 4S in 2011. Now accessible across all Apple products, Siri continues to be integrated into the daily lives of users.

Google: OK, Google

Google’s efforts in the voice search and virtual assistant space have been leading the charge recently. Thanks to Google’s endless bank of data, their virtual assistant has been able to leverage this data to provide the fastest and most relevant information in the market.

Amazon: Hey, Alexa

Amazon’s Alexa has been a strong player in the virtual assistant game as it’s directly integrated with Amazon Prime subscriptions. Alexa is available on all smart devices but is heavily promoted by Amazon in tandem with their Echo smart speakers.

Microsoft: Hey Cortana

Microsoft’s Cortana is similar to the other virtual assistants, however it draws all of its results exclusively from Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Currently, Cortana doesn’t have a large market share, though it seems that Microsoft is targeting the business and enterprise market with Cortana.

Market Recap

You’ll notice a common theme throughout the market. Each company has their own suite of products that can be integrated into all aspects of your life. For example, you wake up in the morning to an alarm that plays your favourite song set by your branded smart speaker, watch your sports highlights on your branded smart TV, then head out the door with your branded smart phone and smart watch. At every point you’re only one “OK, Google” or “Hey, Alexa” away from a voice search.

It’s likely that once you commit to one of these companies, you’ll convert to their entire suite of products. This drives revenue for the short-term, but also allows them to gather data from you to leverage for future revenue.

After looking at Google Trends, you can begin to see which companies — from the four we chatted about — are truly leading the way.​


Voice Search Usage

So, who is using voice search and why?

People of all ages are using voice search. However, Millennials are dominating the market with 39.3% using voice search on a regular basis. Since Millennials were born between 1980 and 1994, making them between 39 to 25 years old, they are likely to have moved into their own place of residence and outfitted it with smart devices—making voice search extremely accessible.


Common Themes for Voice Search

Voice search is being used for a variety of types of searches, although, common themes are emerging.

The first theme is regarding the types of searches. According to seoClarity, 16.85% of all voice searches are triggered by the words “How”, “What”, “Best”, or “Where”. Take a moment to think about this. Of everything you could search for, these four words account for almost a fifth of all searches.

People are using voice search for discovering local businesses. A total of 46% of consumers use voice search for finding local business information daily and 28% of people contact the business after doing a voice search. These searches are often made by people who are ready to purchase goods or services from a local business (also known as intent-rich moments). Notably, over 50% of people who use voice search look for restaurant recommendations.

When virtual assistants are looking for local information, they each have their own information set from which they primarily draw. For example, Apple’s Siri gathers information from Yelp, whereas Google gathers information from the business's Google My Business listing.

The third and final theme is shopping. Currently, only 19% of those who use a virtual assistant have made a purchase through their assistant. Of this set of people, the most popular shopping category—which was a surprise to us—was groceries at 20% of the voice shopping market.

The shopping theme is interesting as it’s expected to grow to $40 billion by 2022 as more people adopt virtual assistants and become comfortable using it in their day-to-day life.

How Can Your Local Business Leverage Voice Search?

There are specific ways for your local business to leverage voice search. However, first we’ll go over three general guidelines that all businesses should be following.

Be Mobile-Friendly

This one might be a little too obvious. Since the majority of voice search happens on mobile devices, your site should be highly optimized for mobile. Page and site speed are both ranking factors and should be prioritized when making your site more mobile-friendly.

There are a variety of speed testers out there that provide you with a score and attempt to sell you a service in the process. For now, we’ll remain neutral on those tools and link you to Google’s PageSpeed Insights to dive deeper and their Think with Google Canada article to improve your mobile site’s performance.

Develop Useful Content

Creating content that answers popular questions you receive from your customers—or potential customers—will allow virtual assistants to draw information from your site, which can reward you with new business.

When you’re deciding what type of content you should create, consider the different stages of the customer journey including the following:

Awareness: “What’s the best virtual assistant?”

Consideration: “What is better Google or Alexa?”

Purchase: “Where is the best price for an Amazon Echo?”

Retention: “How do I hook up my smart lights to an Amazon Echo?”

Advocacy: “What are the best home accessories to have with an Amazon Echo?”

By creating content for customers at each stage of their own unique journey, it will allow virtual assistants to have a bank of information to draw from. Not to mention the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) benefits that come with creating relevant content that traditional search users will likely stumble upon.

Stay on Your Toes

Be nimble and ready to shift your digital marketing tactics with the flip of a switch. While voice search has been around for a few years, only now is it becoming popular and integrated into our daily lives.

As more people adopt virtual assistants and become comfortable with them new trends will emerge. Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple will all be looking to capitalize on new revenue streams and so should you.

Advice for Local Businesses

The rise of voice search presents a unique opportunity for local businesses who are early adopters on optimizing their digital footprint, as many local businesses will be slow to adapt.

As previously identified, one of the three main themes for voice search is local business. Whether it’s people new in your city, vacationing for the weekend, or long-time residents looking for something new, they are all using some variant of a “near me” search. Therefore, making time to ensure your business is connecting to virtual assistants is crucial to the longevity and success of your business.

Local Directories

This is arguably the easiest and fastest way to be noticed by voice search and other types of searches. By claiming your business profile on business directories and filling out the information categories, search engines will use that information when users who are close by are looking for recommendations or services which you provide.

Yelp – The largest local listing provider for voice search on both mobile devices and smart speakers. Yelp is used by three of the four major players: Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Whenever someone asks any of these three assistants for a local review, they will draw information directly from Yelp. In addition to reviews, Alexa uses Yelp as its database for business listings as well.

Google My Business – Google’s Assistant draws information exclusively from Google’s own database and Google My Business plays a large role for local searches. Claiming your company’s ‘Google My Business’ is a short and simple process that will greatly improve your traditional search results and allow your business to be enabled for voice searches.

Bing Places – Flying under the radar is Bing Places, which is used by Alexa for search and Cortana for search and business listings. Most businesses are unaware of Bing Places and will likely not put in the effort to establish their listing on Bing. Take advantage of this by ensuring you claim your business's profile and fill out the information correctly.

Local Content

Let's revisit a previous point for all businesses that you can capitalize on a local level. Local businesses who create content answering questions that residents have will see an increase in business due to the hyper targeted nature of the content.

Compared to businesses competing on a worldwide stage, local businesses don’t face the same level of competition when it comes to someone looking for specific answers that only those residents in a local community can provide. Search engines, like Google, know this and will prioritize the answers you provide if all your other cards are in order—such as your Google My Business listing.

Try it for Yourself

You’re now equipped with actionable insights to leverage voice search. Lay out a short road map and make it a goal to accomplish at least two of these tactics we’ve mentioned. If you need a kick start, we strongly suggest updating your business information on Yelp, Google My Business, and Bing Places. It’s super easy to do and won’t take long!

Good luck on your quest for voice search domination – if you’d like help getting a handle on voice search for your business, email us! ​

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