How to Optimize for Voice Search

By Veronica Sullivan

Technology talks back.

Voice search is an up-and-coming technology based on speech recognition that allows users to search by saying terms out loud instead of typing them into a search engine. Digital assistants like Alexa, Siri, Cortana, and Google Home are the latest trends in consumer electronics. According to a Google study, over half of U.S. teens and 41% of U.S. adults use voice search on a daily basis. These devices know more about their users than almost anyone else, and often have access to a user’s purchase history, social networks, location activity, financial information, and more.

By 2020, voice search will account for roughly 50% of searches. So, what can you do to ensure that your institution stays on top?

Claim local listings.

According to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text-based searches. This means that claiming your listings on platforms such as Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing is now more important than ever. Each digital assistant utilizes different engines in its search, so it’s important to be present on as many platforms as possible. Take the time to upload unique descriptions and photos to each listing, and encourage customers to leave reviews. Digital assistants factor in even the smallest of details when generating results.

Verify your information on a regular basis.

This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to forget to update a new phone number or address on all your local listings. Take time every quarter to review all the information on your local listings and ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.

Ensure that your site is mobile-friendly.

As more and more searches move from desktop to mobile, search engines are placing greater emphasis on mobile-friendly pages. Not only do mobile responsive pages enhance the overall user experience, they also drastically improve search visibility, via both voice and text. See if your site passes the mobile-friendly test by clicking here.

Get conversational.                                                               

Voice search queries are typically longer, and more conversational than text search queries. Rather than typing in queries such as “checking account” or “ATMs near me,” users are asking their digital assistants questions like “how do I open a checking account?” or “where is the closest ATM?” Implementing longer, more conversational keywords into your website content and search engine marketing (SEM) campaigns will help increase visibility and improve your rank across search engines.

Utilize FAQ sections.

In relation to conversational search trend, it’s a great idea to add a FAQ section to your website, blog, and/or social media when appropriate. Digital assistants cannot display a page worth of content like a browser can, so having concise questions and answers laid out will help your institution rank better in voice search results. Consider adding questions like “how do I open a checking account?” or “what is the routing number?”

While the keyboard isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, it’s clear that voice search needs to be addressed in your institution’s marketing strategy. Businesses need to focus on reaching customers on all the platforms they use, with all the answers they are looking for, in a clear and quick way. Whether you’re looking to open more checking accounts, or just get more people into your new branch, there’s no better time than now to start optimizing for voice search.

Veronica Sullivan is a digital account executive at Pannos Marketing based in Bedford, NH. Pannos Marketing is an award-winning, full-service communications firm specializing in strategic marketing, public relations, social media, e-commerce, and website solutions for financial institutions. Email: [email protected]. LinkedIn.