Local voice search is more popular than ever …

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Every local business needs to to be optomized so customers can find them when using apps like Siri, Alexa, OKGoogle and Cortana.

Follow these easy steps to optimize your business for voice search:

Familiarize yourself with how local voice search works.

People use a wide variety of devices and apps to find local business, such as Google Voice, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana. Understanding how these platforms work is the first step in optimizing your business to rank in voice search results.

Understand the three kinds of local business voice search campaigns.

You should optimize a local business for discovery, brand and knowledge voice search queries. You will want to be found by all three types of queries, so it is vital you understand how they work.

Create and optimize your Google My Business listing.

Google My Business provides all local business results in Google Assistant, and will make your business show up on Google Maps.

Create and optimize your Apple Maps business listing.

On Apple Siri, local business search results are provided by Apple Maps Connect. This is separate from Google Maps, so you will want to create both listings.

Create and optimize your Bing Places business listing.

Bing Places provides local search results for Microsoft Cortana.

Create and optimize your Yelp business listing.

Yelp provides local search results for Amazon Alexa. Yelp also provides photos and reviews for other apps like Apple Maps and Bing Places.

Why Optimize for Local Voice Search?

Voice search continues to grow not only because of the increasing popularity of smart speakers, but because of the mobility of modern phones, computers and other devices. People also use voice assistants for not only general questions and tasks, but also to find local businesses. A 2018 BrightLocal survey showed some extremely fascinating results: 50% of people used voice search to find a local business over the past year. 74% of voice search users looked for a local business weekly. 46% of voice search users looked for a local business daily. That example is from nearly two years ago, but voice search has only continued to grow since. The bottom line is: people are using voice assistants to search for local businesses. Does your business rank for these customers?


Voice Assistant Market Share

There are four major players in the voice assistant world: Apple, Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa. There’s also Samsung Bixby and a few others, but they have very little market share.


People usually assume that Amazon Alexa dominates voice search. According to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), Amazon has a 70% market share of the home speaker market, Google Home has 25% and Apple has 5%. However, this is only for home devices.


Mobile devices dominate voice search, and market share transforms considerably when you consider all voice-enabled devices. A 2019 study by Microsoft shows that Google Assistant and Apple Siri share the largest market share for voice assistants at 36% respectively. Amazon Alexa comes in third, with 25%, and Microsoft Cortana has 19%.

According to the same BrightLocal study, when looking for local businesses, the most popular devices for voice search are smartphones, followed by desktops / laptops and tablets. Smart speakers are actually the least used for local business searches, likely because most people almost always have their phone handy.



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The Three Types of Local Voice Searches

Voices search queries can be broken down into three distinct types:

In a discovery search, people are searching for local businesses with a particular product or service. Direct searches are when people ask for information about a specific local business, like yours. Knowledge searches may not have local business intent, but present a great opportunity to showcase your business. While discovery searches are important for finding new clients, direct searches are often more important, because these customers are looking to do business with you right now! Knowledge searches are a bit more tricky, but can lead to customers reaching out to you for your more information.


The Modern Voice Search Environment

When looking at the modern voice search environment, first start with the output devices. Obviously people are using voice search on phones and smart speakers; But voice search use is increasing on tablets, laptop and desktop computers and game consoles, too.

We are also seeing voice assistants being built directly into other devices like smart TVs, appliances, watches. Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri are even being incorporated into brand new cars.


Optimize for Apple Siri

Apple Siri has about 36% of the market share for voice search. They get their local business data from Apple Maps Connect, which powers not only local business data for Siri, but for Apple Maps too. Follow this guide to claim and optimize your Apple Maps listing. But the basic principle is to go to Apple Maps Connect, sign in with your Apple ID, then create and optimize your business listing.


You’ll see that Apple Maps Connect doesn’t have reviews or photos. That’s because Apple gets reviews and photos mostly from Yelp, but sometimes from a few other places depending on the category. So, to best optimize your business for Apple Siri and Apple Maps … it’s imperative that you also create and optimize your Yelp business listing.


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Optimize for Google Assistant

Google Assistant also has 36% of the market share for voice. This is the simplest voice search platform because as a Google product, it already gets all of its local business data from Google My Business listings, including reviews and photos.


Optimizing for Google Assistant is no different that optimizing for Google Maps or Google Search. Optimizing a Google My Business listing is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read our Google My Business Optimization Checklist or watch our Video on Google My Business ranking factors.


The fact is, if you optimize your business to rank well on a Google serp (search engine results page) or in Google Maps, you’ll be well optimized for showing up in a voice search on Google Assistant.


Optimize for Amazon Alexa

Alexa dominates the smart speaker market with 70% of the global market share. However, it only has 25% of the overall market share for voice search when you consider all devices (smartphones, computers, game console, etc.) Alexa gets local business data, photos and reviews from two main sources. Yelp provides the majority of the local business information, photos and reviews for Alexa local search. In mid-2018, Yext also began submitting business listings directly to Alexa.


If you are already a Yext customer, your business information will be pushed directly to Alexa automatically, and there is nothing more you need to do. If you’re not yet a Yext customer, just make sure that your Yelp business listing is claimed and optimized, and Alexa will use that.


Be aware: unscrupulous companies are calling local businesses and warning that they won’t be found in Alexa unless they buy a special listing. This is a scam trying to sell you a some type of listing under false pretenses.


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Optimize for Microsoft Cortana

Finally, there’s Microsoft Cortana which surprisingly has close to 20% of the market share. Because it’s embedded in Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and Microsoft Office, one of every five voice searches are done through Cortana. Cortana get its information on local businesses from Bing Places.


While Bing has very little market share on mobile, it still has significant market share for desktop searches. With 20% of the market share of voice search, it’s definitely worthwhile to create and optimize your Bing Places listing. As with Siri and Alexa, Microsoft Cortana gets the majority of its local business reviews and photos from Yelp. Sometimes you’ll see reviews and images from TripAdvisor in certain business categories, but usually they come from Yelp.


Create and Optimize Your Yelp Listing

Whether you like Yelp or not … your Yelp listing is vital to local voice search optimization. Yelp synchs images and reviews to Apple Maps which powers Apple Siri, and Bing Maps which powers Microsoft Cortana. It also synchs business data, images and reviews to Amazon Alexa.


You want to create and optimize your Yelp listing as soon as possible. Make sure your business information is accurate and complete. Upload great photos for your business to stand out. Yelp has one advertising option that you may also want to consider: the “edit slideshow” page upgrade. By default, Yelp decides what the primary photo is for your listing. I have seen a snowcone as the primary image for a real estate agent, for example. But the slideshow page upgrade allows you to control the order of your photos, including choosing the primary image associated with your business.


It costs a dollar a day, but it does allow you to specify the primary image that shows up not only on Yelp, but in Apple Maps, Bing Maps and in voice assistant results for Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana on smartphones and devices that aren’t purely audio.


You Are Now Optimized for Local Voice Search

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Once you’ve created and optimized your Google My Business, Apple Maps Connect, Bing Places and Yelp business listing, you’ll be well on your way to ranking in both discovery and direct / brand local voice search queries.

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