Optimizing Your Business: The VEO Way

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Picture this – you are the owner of a restaurant with the best-rated steak tacos in town. While your grills are flaming and the tacos are served to perfection, the volume of reservations and in-store walk-ins is dwindling. You think it’s the slow season, until you see your competitor down the block is constantly packed. Did you know Alexa, Siri, Google Home, and other voice devices could be to blame?

Recent research finds the local purchase intent of voice searchers is at an all-time high, as 88% of voice tech users will follow their search with a local action like driving directions or a phone call to their chosen result. While jumping on the voice bandwagon may seem like a low priority for a local business or mid-size franchise, not optimizing your marketing efforts for these devices may be walking you right out of visitors and sales.

Keeping up with competitors requires Voice Engine Optimization (VEO), an aspect of SEO that accounts for the conversational questions voice searchers use, and the keywords and listings devices search to formulate their results. A focus on VEO ensures voice devices present your business as the nearby answer to a consumer’s question – which, in this case, could be as simple as, “where can I get tacos nearby?

Adopting VEO strategies starts with a few simple mindset shifts to transform SEO strategies and local business listings to vie for the top spot in a voice search. This includes thinking locally, becoming the best, and adopting ‘speakable’ keywords.

Tip #1: Think Locally

When a consumer turns to their voice device, they are ready to act. Mobile voice searches, which 90% of consumers use, are three times more likely to be local-based than text searches are. Voice devices are often the fastest route to convenience and instant gratification, which consumers crave, placing businesses that optimize for this in the top spot for purchase consideration.

The critical element to showing up in local voice searches is accurate business listings across platforms like Facebook, Yelp and Google My Business. Listings, which house information such as address, phone number and store hours, make up 46% of how search engines rank a business, and are where voice devices pull their information. This means that if they are inaccurate, so is the information delivered to a consumer. Imagine the negative impact this can have if a potential customer finds your business and gets directions to it, only to discover your hours online were wrong and visits your nearby competitor instead.

Tip #2: Become the Best, Not a Best

Voice devices present a unique challenge in that businesses must be the number one search result to get in front of consumers. It’s unrealistic to expect consumers will wait for their voice device to list the top 10 results, like they would see on a desktop search, or even the top three results that would appear in a mobile search.

To be the best, listings must be accurate, search rankings must be high and VEO must be a commonplace strategy for each of a business’ locations. Keywords also must be optimized for the local, unbranded searches consumers are using—nine times out of 10 a shopper is searching for “tacos nearby” versus “Taco Bell within 10 miles” or “Joe’s Tacos open now.”   

Tip #3: Make Your Keywords “Speakable”

Think like a shopper. Consumers do not speak to voice devices in optimized keywords or queries, they ask questions in the same conversational manner they use when speaking to a person. On the back end, this means voice devices themselves are searching for answers based on related keywords. Is your business optimized to answer questions?

The first order of business is for businesses to update the FAQ section of their website--which most voice devices have algorithms to pull from--and ensure it is regularly updated as changes are made to items including menus, store hours, phone numbers, and available locations. The next step is to bring these conversational answers and keywords into other areas where your business appears, such as Google My Business, which allows you to control these answers before they are crowdsourced from your website content or customer reviews.

The VEO Way

Voice technology isn’t going anywhere, but businesses that ignore their local impact just might. Simple strategies and mindset shifts can ensure you are showing up no matter where a consumer is or what they are asking their device. Remember: think local, be the best, and become speakable.

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