Speech recognition technology has become common in the past decade. Nearly every smartphone employs this technology, and roughly one in five smartphone owners uses it to perform a search at least once a day. Additionally, smart devices such as Amazon Echo are increasing in popularity, with no apparent slowdown in the near future.
With the percentage of voice-powered searches rising, it's increasingly important for location pages to make changes to accommodate them. Just as SEO best practices had to change to adapt to the prevalence of smartphones and tablets, so again they need to change to adapt to the prevalence of voice-powered searches.
Single Result Searches
Best practices need to adapt because voice-powered searches return different types of results than traditional internet searches. Instead of returning a value-ordered list of links to web pages, the majority of voice-powered searches return only a single result. The web page that best matches the search comes up, and no other options are made available. If the searcher wants a different web page, they have to rephrase the request and try again.
This change in results increases the importance of being the top match, since any other position effectively results in the location page not being on the results list at all. For traditional searches, coming in second place in almost every variation of search is extremely good for getting traffic. With a voice-powered search, however, this result is terrible.
Best Practices for Voice-Powered Location Pages
The best practices for voice-powered location pages rely on two important facts about voice-powered searches.
The majority of voice-powered searches are local searches.
Nearly every voice-powered search is made in the form of a question as a full sentence.
Because most queries come in the form of a full sentence, it is unlikely that any content will include an exact match for the search query. In fact, trying to get an exact match is nearly impossible and highly inefficient. Instead of trying to match the query keywords exactly, it is more important to create content that answers the question.
For example, one person may ask, "How do I get to the baseball stadium from downtown Atlanta?" while another may ask, "Where is the baseball stadium where the Braves play?" Content that includes the phrase "directions to SunTrust Stadium" will provide an answer to either of those questions. The search algorithm is smart enough to know that it's the answer to both of those questions.
To best ensure that content ranks first in the search, besides answering key questions, the content should try to include as many relevant local keywords as possible. In the example above, keywords like "SunTrust Stadium," "Atlanta," "Braves," and "Cobb Community Transit" are all specific local keywords that are likely to increase ranking.
In addition to modifying SEO best practices, voice-powered location pages should also incorporate technical modifications. Voice-powered searches are more likely to return pages that load faster, that are secured by HTTPS, and that have a high domain authority rating. These types of technical changes cost additional money but usually provide strong benefits.
The goal of all of these modifications, both technical and SEO-related, is to increase the number of hits from voice-powered searches. Proactively making these changes is critical in an environment in which the number of voice-powered searches performed daily is growing rapidly.