More threads by Garrett Sussman

Mar 15, 2016
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Today's Blog Post:

Is Your Small Business Ready for Voice Search?

is your business ready for voice search-.jpg

Is Your Small Business Ready for Voice Search?

Anyone else still terrified to talk to your phone in public? Apparently, you may be in the minority sooner rather than later.

Join me, as we explore:

  • How does Voice Search work?
  • Who is already using Voice Search?
  • Who are the major players and how is the competition shaping up?
  • How will Voice Search impact businesses?

Discussion Questions:

What are your thoughts on AMP? Have you implemented it? Why or Why not?

What's your prediction for the future of Voice Search?

Which Voice Search Assistant will come out on top (Apple, Google, Microsoft or Amazon)?

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is your business ready for voice search-.jpg
Thanks for sharing this Garrett! Since I'm always on desktop and seldom use my phone, I have not thought much about the impact voice search could have, but I'm sure it's a big deal! And even though I HATE typing on my phone I never use voice - forget it's there since I seldom need it. But I know lots of folks do use it.

Do you guys use voice search?

How much do you think clients are impacted?
Thanks for the reply Linda!

I think that voice search is often forgotten, even though it can be very useful. At this point, I only use it in my car. I feel like there's a social stigma around using it in public, but from my article, you can see I'm in the minority.

Since nearly 50% of people are using voice search, I absolutely think it currently impacts clients, and will only become more impactful. This is especially the case as search engines like Google continue to include location and superlative based searches. A person using voice search is more likely to say something like "Where's the best restaurant near me?" as opposed to "Best restaurant + city." Clients can benefit by targeting more long-tail keywords and conversational copy.

When you think about how quickly cell phones became assimilated into our culture, I predict voice search will have the same exponential growth.
I think you're right Garrett, a move towards voice is going to go hand-in-hand with a move towards more semantic search, something that's already been on the rise for the last while anyway, but it'll definitely mean that Google needs to use what it's learned on a larger number of searches. I imagine the biggest visible difference will just be a shift in volume of keyword distributions. It's getting to be a real challenging to properly track results for clients in the local space, and it looks like that's going to continue.
Thank you for the reply James!

I agree, I imagine it will speed up. With Google's attempt at highlighting local 'authority,' I'm very curious to see if they end up ranking independent small businesses higher than brands for hyperlocal search results. I'd bet that's the direction they're going in (which benefits small businesses significantly).

I'm not sure if there are any sports fans in this forum, but it's similar to the way the NBA has tried to create fairness between big and small market teams. Google should definitely go that route in my humble opinion.
They already do on the phone. Any search where Google's sure of your location will heavily favor hyper local results. And you're right, means there's real benefit for small businesses putting in the minimum amount of energy to start showing, and I think that exposure will slowly grow over time as things like this roll out bigger.
It still blows my mind that like 50% of businesses don't have a website. How is that possible in 2016? Especially in regards to the low hanging fruit that you mentioned.

Would you agree that companies need a website or can they have some decent local search results purely on citations?
Seems like at the moment at least, for certain searches at least (mobile for example) GMB signals and business location are way more important than organic. I just did a search for 'wedding photography', and the number one result was missing a website, and even had their SAB radius set to 100+ miles. That business showed top for me because it's closest, that's all.

So I think it depends on goals and resources available to the business owner. A really crappy website in some industries might be more of a liability than no website at all, so if someone was bootstrapping my first recommendation would be to get a claimed profile set up, and maybe link it a facebook page or something so you at least have something to write a little bit about your business. That super bare minimum will let you show for anyone searching with a map zoomed in, anyone searching on the phone nearby, and it'll get you a knowledge panel showing for a brand name search. At that point, it might even be that getting the first five reviews to show the stars will be your biggest conversion bump, even more so than getting a website done for someone to click through and look at.

But you're right, for anything with any amount of 'real' competition, I can't remember the last time I saw a ranking business in the 3-pack without a website.

One thing to note though, verifying a business without a website can sometimes get stuck in pending limbo if Google isn't sure about the business from 3rd party data sources. It's still worth trying if a website is more than a month away, but it might take a little force to push it through the pipes.
Sorry for the late reply James, but that is fascinating. I would have thought that businesses would not necessarily be penalized for not having a website, but at least not earn any sort of higher placement.

That would be an interesting strategy for a bootstrapped business to only have listings and social media channels. I also would agree that a poor website would be detrimental.

I'm curious if any other consultants or agencies recommend focusing on listings, when the client chooses not to invest in a website.
I know some of the scammers in certain industries (locksmiths, etc) get hundreds of fake listings set up every few miles, banking on the easy exposure for people searching nearby. Those fake listings without any citations or attached website obviously won't get much traction most places, but phone searches will still pop them up if you're nearby. Spam aside, it's definitely an easy win for someone with no exposure at all to at least put in the bare minimum. Not sure if that'll change at some point to help combat spam, but on phones it seems like location relative to the searcher is an overwhelmingly large part of what gets you showing.
I have read about the infamous locksmith epidemic, and I can only imagine that Google will try to continue improve any black hat techniques across industries. It will be interesting to see how quickly measures to combat it are implemented.

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