Few things are more important for a modern business than showing up in search results, and new trends in search are changing the way businesses establish and maintain their online presence.
Voice search is steadily becoming more popular, with the ever-increasing use of cellphone digital assistants like Apple’s “Siri” and Android’s “Ok, Google.” These advances are quickly adding new dimensions to how people search for, and interact with, businesses.
And it’s not just phones. According to a report from NPR and Edison Research, nearly 53 million people owned a smart speaker at the end of 2018, a 52 percent increase from 39 million the prior year. Between Amazon’s Alexa and Echo products, Google’s Home Assistant line and other brands such as Sonos and Sony, these handy gadgets are turning up in households everywhere, and the trend is changing how businesses market their products and services online.
Here are some numbers that help demonstrate the trend in voice-powered search:
- 50% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020
- 75% of all households in the U.S. are expected to have at least one smart speaker by 2020
- 65% of 25-49-year-olds speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once per day
- 61% of 25-64-year-olds say they’ll use their voice devices more in the future
In the aesthetics field, as with many service-based industries, traditional methods of online marketing (blogging, search engine optimization, high-quality reviews) are as important as ever. However, the trend toward voice is heating up thanks to the proliferation of these services and devices.
Remember Your Website Basics
Any efforts that result in better search engine placement will help voice-directed search as well, and it starts with a well-designed website. Be sure to keep your site updated, keeping in mind several basic elements:
- Architecture: Outdated or poorly designed sites can be buggy, leading to a bad user experience.
- Load time: Older sites, or those bogged down with unnecessary or poorly-designed programming, often take too long to load. This not only can potentially send away prospective clients, but risks your site being looked at unfavorably in the eyes of search engines.
- Responsiveness: Websites need to be fully functional on all mobile devices because search engines will give lower placement to sites that are not.
- Helpful search-related programming: Schema tags, for instance, can improve your site’s standing by letting search engines know exactly what your site is all about and help special content, like products, events, and articles, appear in the appropriate contexts within a search environment. To learn more, read this article from Moz.com (or send it to your webmaster).
- Business information: Services offered, location information, and contact information should be correct and up-to-date.
Keeping your website maintained and up-to-date as much as possible, and modifying any business information as soon as it changes (hours, location, services offered), will help overall search engine placement, including voice-driven inquiries.
Keep Business Information Listed and Up-To-Date Across the Web
A large portion of searching is focused on delivering the best local results to an inquiry, and this is even more true when it comes to voice-driven search. According to Brightlocal:
- 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information within the last year
- 46% of voice search users look for a local business daily
- 27% visit the website of a local business after conducting a voice search
- 76% of smart home speaker users conduct local searches at least once a week—with 53% performing daily searches
Voice search tends to deliver fewer results than when searching on a browser, for example. This makes it even more important to keep complete, up-to-date business information not only on your practice’s website, but also on your social media profiles, on your RealSelf profile page—anywhere your practice is listed online.
In fact, because different voice search systems will pull results from different places, it is highly important to keep your business information accurate and consistent in places you might not have previously considered:
OK, Google: With a complete, up-to-date Google My Business (GMB) page, your practice will be much more visible within the Google ecosystem, which includes Google.com, Google Assistant on Android phones and Google Home smart speakers.
Siri…: Siri will pull information from Apple’s map listings, as well as several third-party listing services including Yelp, Foursquare, and Citysearch. To make sure your practice is listed properly and will fare well in Siri-led searches, visit Apple Maps Connect, sign in with your Apple ID to claim or update your business information, and do the same for these other listing sites.
Hey Cortana: The Microsoft voice search companion preloaded into Windows computers and phones will default to Bing for search results. Bing Places for Business is similar to Google My Business. And even though Bing has a much smaller audience when it comes to search, you shouldn’t leave potential inquiries on the table—your practice should absolutely be listed and updated there as well.
It may take a bit of time to initially claim and update all of these listings, but having all of these bases covered will greatly increase the likelihood of your practice showing up prominently on all searches, including voice.
Let’s Make a Deal
According to Google/Peerless Insights research, 52 percent of consumers who own a smart speaker “would like to receive info about deals, sales, and promotions from brands,” so now might be a good idea to think about starting, adding, or refreshing promotional offers.
While traditional methods of alerting current and future clients to a special offer—email, social media, etc.—are still tried-and-true, online business listing hubs like the ones mentioned above are starting to allow businesses to post updates and list offers.
This information will undoubtedly be used to help identify which businesses are best suited for search inquiries, and because voice search tends to return fewer results than browser searching, every little bit of extra business information helps get your practice to that all-important top spot. Keeping these platforms updated with fresh, appealing offers can help you stand out with consumers looking for a good deal on aesthetics services.
Test How Your Practice Stands Up to Various Types of Search
As with any online tactics, testing is important. Once you’ve claimed or updated your listings in these locations, it’s a good idea to occasionally search for your practice using various methods (desktop, mobile, voice through phone, voice through smart speaker) with different inquiries (“Where can I get Procedure X done nearby?” “Where is Practice Y,” “Does Practice Z have any special offers?” etc.) to see and hear how your practice appears to consumers, and help determine what, if any, adjustments you might need to make.