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Voice Search Is Here: Are Independent Retailers Ready?

4 ways small businesses should prepare

Brands and retailers are discovering new ways to reach consumers on a daily basis, helping to strengthen their connection on both online and offline channels. The latest trend in customer connections? Voice.

As we’ve seen over the past few years, voice assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have grown exponentially in popularity due to their ease of use and simplicity, and this trajectory is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, a recent study by Gartner predicts that by 2020, 30 percent of our online browsing sessions will be voice-conducted.

With voice becoming such a dominant and widely used force, small and local brands need to prepare to ensure their digital presence is ready to handle these new technologies. Here are four ways to prepare for the rise of this technology.

Keep The Digital Doorway Open

Whether or not your company can capitalize on voice search will depend heavily on your ability to build and maintain a “digital doorway” for consumers. Put simply, your website needs to be up to date and easy to find so AI-powered searches/devices will locate your business when consumers are searching for certain keywords or locations.

Traditional online SEO uses formulas and algorithms based on the ways that popular search engines like Google or Yahoo filter results. To keep the digital doorway wide open, your SEO strategy must also incorporate the search criteria and methodology used by voice assistants to maintain adequate results across all platforms.

Keep An Eye On Third-Party Sites

Peer references and reviews are becoming more important than ever and the developers behind voice assistants know it. Platforms like Google Voice Search, Siri and Alexa pull a significant number of results from websites like Yelp and Google My Business. With voice searches so reliant on third-party websites, it’s critical you ensure updated website, location and contact information on these pages as well.

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This is especially important when you consider companies like Ford have begun using Alexa in their newer vehicles, and Apple has begun to allow companies like Lyft and various GPS apps to leverage Siri as well, so any searches or recommendations made through these platforms will also pull from these critical third-party sites.

Localize Your SEO Strategy

With customers searching for products and retailers by location, brands need to be prepared for the rise in “near me” searches and use their location as a marketing tool. For brands, this means optimizing your digital presence to be found online. An easy way to get started is by making sure your Google My Business listing is up to date and accurate, ensuring that your business will appear in near me searches. From there, develop localized content for your website and use keywords that are relevant to your area. Own an appliance store in Laguna Beach? Consider that shoppers might search for “refrigerator in Laguna Beach” and weave those key words into your content.

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Conversational-ize Your SEO

Voice search is about convenience, and most users aren’t thinking about making their query as articulate as possible when speaking to Alexa or Siri. Instead, users searching via voice assistants talk fast and off-the-cuff, so it’s important to boost your overall SEO strategy by making sure your website is discoverable using the plainest, simplest language possible. For instance, where a user on a traditional desktop might search for “Electronics Stores in Cape Cod, Massachusetts,” someone in the midst of a business trip and looking for a quick solution might just say, “Where can I get a cellphone charging cable?”

Voice search is quickly gaining traction and is poised to significantly impact the way brands market to consumers; however, retailers need to first confirm their digital presence is ready to handle this new technology before they start to see an impact. In order to succeed and connect with consumers, you need to understand the way the technology works and alter your strategy to reach your tech-savvy customers.

Bill Nagel is co-founder and chief marketing strategist of Netsertive, a marketing technology company that enables brands, publishers and local businesses to reach customers online, at scale.

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