Voice Search, Google, and Your Business

At Google’s last product event of 2017, the search (and – now – hardware) giant launched 7 new products, 5 of which include Google Assistant as a central component. If you weren’t aware, Google Assistant is the company’s answer to Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa – and it’s consistently been getting better and better. But what does the full-court-press on voice mean for search and the rest of the internet? If anything – it means we can’t ignore it.

It also means Google will continue to increase the value, usability, and ubiquity of not just voice search – but voice experiences.  For any modern company with a website, this could have some far-reaching implications (and opportunities). From the way Google serves us content to the way businesses can serve those that need their help.

This increasing focus on voice underscores one of the more salient points made by Dan Golden this year at Hubspot’s Inbound conference: that “It’s not about webpages anymore.” We couldn’t agree more.

In his talk at Inbound last year, “Voice Search: What’s Now. What’s New. What’s Next” Dan Golden, president of Be Found Online  (and self-described “voice” search aficionado ) helped drive this notion home with the simple reminder that fewer and fewer search results are organic.  Because whether we call them customers, visitors, users, personas, or *GASP* — people, Google’s central mission remains simple: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” The bottom line is simple: people are looking for answers, and it matters little whether they get them on a company website or hear them from the disembodied voices living in our pockets, headphones, and homes.

Is this the end of the keyboard?

Here at 4WMG, we refuse to believe keyboards are going anywhere. On one level, Sasha and I just love the steady “tick/tack/tick/tack” of our mechanical keyboards too much. On another level, our parent company Industrial Traffic continues to work with a predominately industrial audience. Time and again, this audience provides valuable insights into usability that contrast sharply from how we might approach consumer brands and the B2C world. But if we’ve learned anything, it’s that nobody is insulated from “the almighty GOOG”.

So what can you do? Well, pretty much everything you can….

An example of a Google Business Listing (that happens to need more review

And it starts with answers that can be found anywhere.  The question we’re focusing more on is where and how we can provide them better m? And that goes back the simple fact that modern SEO (and good marketing, in my book) isn’t just doing one thing right. It’s doing everything right.

But what does that mean? And what does it have to do with voice search?

Let’s look at a couple examples.

Google Business Listings: With more businesses online, “local intent” has become a big deal – making verified google business listings (with authentic positive reviews) more important than ever. From hours and directions (and more), all of the information is readily delivered by voice search. Our advice: be ready.

Featured Snippets: Before Google Assistant was ever a glimmer in Larry Page’s all-seeing-eye, “answer based” content was already important.  From the Hummingbird algorithm update and its focus on conversational search, to Google’s repeated updates to mobile-friendliness – hands-free is here to stay.  So your Google Business listing is accurate and updated. Good. What about your content? Is it written and optimized to be considered as a “Featured Snippet”?

What is a featured snippet?

When a user asks a question in Google Search, [Google] might show a search result in a special featured snippet block at the top of the search results page. This featured snippet block includes a summary of the answer, extracted from a webpage, plus a link to the page, the page title and URL. source: Google

I didn’t blatantly copy the below from Google out of laziness. But to point out Google’s word choice: “When a user asks a question…”. They’re not “submitting a query” or “inputting a search string”. They’re a real person with a real need.  Featured snippets are one way to answer that need. Fortunately, If you’ve been creating content that accommodates Google’s not-so-newfound focus on conversational, answer-oriented search – there’s a good chance you (or your clients) will be rewarded.

For example, Wrabacon Inc is a manufacturer of creative automation solutions for businesses across the country (and a long-standing client of our parent company). When Google began stressing the importance of answer-based content, we went to work on some of their key products. Ever wondered what a pail denester is? It may not be sexy, but it’s an essential component for automation systems around the world, and a competitive keyword-group for the automation industry. With the right content, schema mark-up, and other best-practices – Wrabacon gets the opportunity to define “pail denesting” for anyone that asks, as well as the increased click-through-rate, and time-on-site associated with having a Page 1, Rank 1 listing.

Start Small, Start Today

The keyboard isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. You can still accomplish quite a bit with the right words, in the right order. And what business wants to revert from their trendy new open-concept floorplan because nobody can stand the constant drone of spoken search queries? The truth is that voice is opening new avenues to help people better.  So, if you’re looking for an edge – voice could be important. But it doesn’t require completely overhauling existing SEO strategies – but simply taking stock of opportunities, catering content to how it might soon be delivered, and really thinking about how to provide the answers real people are looking for.


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