voice search ranking factors

The Local Voice Search Ranking Factors That Ruled 2020

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Voice searching is on the rise and they relate to local searches in most cases. Just check these numbers to rule out any doubt you might nurture:

  • The global market for voice assistant devices increased by 70% with 147 million units sold in 2019.
  • In 2018, 27% of the online population across the world used voice search on their mobile devices. By the time 2020 ends, voice searches will account for 50% of all searches.
  • Among voice search users, 58% use them to get information about local businesses, making local SEO services critical for your business.
  • In 2017, voice commerce sales in the UK and the USA amounted to US$0.2 billion and US$1.8 billion respectively. The prediction is that the volume will rise to US$ 5 billion in the UK and US$ 40 billion in the US by 2022.
  • Among smart speaker owners, 43% use the technology for shopping.

Read on to get core insights into the ranking factors you need to keep in mind for your SEO strategy.

Voice Search Ranking: Overview

We draw from the SEMRush study on the voice assistant market focused on local businesses. But we go beyond to add insights from our own experience and robust research.

The Market Share

The big four of the digital world dominate the voice search market. Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri have an equal market share at 36% each, with Amazon’s Alexa coming in next at 25%. Microsoft’s Cortana currently has a 19% market share.

All the others together add up to 1% only. Other voice assistance devices include Samsung’s Bixby, Hound, Robin, etc.

Please note that by Google Assistant, we refer to all the Google voice search devices. Google Home, Google Home Mini, and Google Home Hub are all included.

Critical Ranking Features

  • The average length of responses across the majority of devices is 23 words.
  • Both Google Home and Google Home Hub can return responses with up to 41 words. Google Home Hub, however, has a limitation of up to 11 words, the same as Alexa.
  • Siri can return answers with up to 15 words while android phones reflect a limit of 12 words.
  • Alexa is unable to respond to every fourth question, which makes it comparatively less efficient as a voice search device.
  • The ability of voice assistants to understand queries and answer them has improved immensely. A Forrester report published in April 2019 mentions that voice search devices could only answer 35% of the questions asked.

The SEMRush study reports that the failure to answer across devices is only 6.3%. Alexa reflects the highest inability at 23%, with android and Siri being unable to answer only 2% of questions.

Google Home and Google Home Mini failed to answer 3% of the questions asked, while Google Home Hub could not answer 5% of the questions.

Implications For SEO Strategizing

To adapt your SEO strategy for easy recognition by voice assistants has evolved to be a critical business need. To delay that is likely to cause considerable business loss and losing out to the smarter competition.

Especially so as the use of voice assistants to conduct search functions will only increase with time.

Some relevant points that emerge from the above analysis are:

  • Alexa may not be too much in use as a searching device, going by its inability to answer every fourth question. That might change any day, however, as Amazon recognizes that people are using Alexa for searching businesses.
  • It is critical, therefore to adapt your SEO strategy to suit the needs of different voice search devices. That is not an easy-to-achieve task. These devices use radically different algorithms.
  • It is equally important to note the emphasis on local businesses when using a voice assistant device for the search function. Local SEO services are singularly pivotal, therefore.

How The Devices Function

So, where do the voice assistants draw their answers from?

  • Both Google Assistant and Apple Siri use Google as a search engine. Alexa, however, depends on Bing.
  • For reviews, Siri and Alexa use Yelp. The crowd-sourced reviews available on the Yelp website and mobile app influence Siri and Alexa’s answers. Google Assistant, on the other hand, use Google My Business reviews.
  • For business listings – Alexa uses Yelp, Google Assistant uses Google Maps, and Siri uses Apple Maps.

These differences reflect why answers vary across devices. Since both Google Assistant and Siri use Google SERP results, the commonality of responses among them is higher at 10%.

Shared answers between Alexa and Google Assistant is only 1%. It is the same between Siri and Alexa.

If you want your business to feature across devices, you’ll have to find a way of being in top positions on both Google and Bing. You’ll also need to feature well on both Google My Business and Yelp for business reviews.

To take advantage of the locality-related search, your business needs to feature on Apple Maps, Google Maps, and Yelp.

How To Optimize Your SEO To Match Voice Search Needs

Given that both Google Assistant and Siri use Google SERP results, the need to maintain a top rank there remains unchanged. However, there are adjustments you need to make to leverage your Google SERP rank for voice search.

When combined with the emphasis on local searches, making local SEO services vital. The factors to remember are:

• Optimize your SEO using the Local Pack. There’s nothing you can do about the distance factor, but you should try to ensure a Google SERP ranking within the top 3. Also, featured snippets and the “People also ask” feature play an important role.

• Do everything you can to optimize your Google My Business profile. Use these techniques for that:

  1. Add details about your business to enable Google to understand the relevance of your business to the search query.
  2. Make sure you categorize your business as accurately as possible. Do not just stop at Food and Beverage, for example. Go to a subcategory like pizza, or whatever else is suitable.
  3. Remember that more positive reviews make you more prominent.
  4. Use photos to make your profile more attractive.

• Make sure you feature on Google Maps. If you have your profile on Google My Business, you’re likely to feature automatically on Google Maps. You can be doubly sure, however.

  1. Search for your business on Google Maps. If it appears on the dropdown menu along with your location next to it, fine. If it does not, click on the “Add a missing place option in the dropdown menu and add it.

• To ensure a high rank in Google Maps, claim your business on the map via your Google My Business profile. That would allow you to add more details to gain more prominence.

• List a local phone number rather than a toll-free one. Google prefers the former. Also, keep your business hours updated.

• To ensure that you feature on Apple Maps, create your Apple ID and login. When prompted to the “Small Business” menu, choose “Add My Business”. Enter the name and location of your business in the Apple directory.

• To appear on Yelp maps, create an account on Yelp and follow the instructions to list your business.

• Use structured data in your business description to make it easier for voice assistants to pick your business.

• Do not forget that people use natural language when using voice search. So, focus on long-tailed keywords.

It Is Not Just About B2C

If you think that all of these relate only to businesses selling directly to consumers, you are sadly mistaken. Way back in 2017, a Forbes article underlined that voice search is on the rise in the B2B sphere also.

Partner With An Expert Agency

Has reading this post worried you? Are you wondering how to achieve all of these?

The answer is simple. Establish a long-term partnership with a dedicated team of experts to access optimized local SEO services. They will optimize your SEO to match voice search needs and your Local Pack while you concentrate on other core business functions.