by Diane Lovine
How to Rank on “Alexa” and “Hey, Google” Searches
We’re all looking for an advantage, a way to stand out, get noticed and get more leads. You may be surprised to know that the best practices for ranking on a desktop search are the very same that will get you ranked for voice search. This is the newest angle that telemarketers are using to convince businesses that if they don’t suddenly hire them to optimize their website for voice search, they will be left behind.
Here’s the thing. We have been writing about voice search since 2019 and the strategies have not changed, but have become more understood. What’s more, if you are using best practices for ranking a website on the first page of Google, you are already optimized for voice search. Why? Because typing a query on your phone, iPad or computer is almost the SAME THING as speaking your query to Alexa, Google, or Siri.
Example: You are having a dinner party this weekend and you just spilled red wine on your dining room carpet. What is your first action? Try to clean it up yourself. If that fails, you’ll go to your device and type or speak “Carpet cleaner near me” or “Carpet cleaning company in (your town)” or “spot removal contractor”. A well-positioned carpet cleaning company is going to come up in a search, regardless of whether you typed or spoke the keywords. And your query is the keywords.
Companies try to make this concept sound complicated, but it really isn’t. I’ll do this experiment now, live and share my results:
First, I’ll engage Siri. Speaking, “Carpet cleaner near me”, prompts Siri to produce the following suggestions on Apple Maps:
I personally prefer to use Chrome, even on my mobile phone. When I open the Chrome browser on my iPhone speak, “Carpet cleaner near me”. Here are Siri’s suggestions:
From the suggestions offered on my iPhone above, I will click the top entry, “carpet cleaner near me”. Here is what comes up. I have placed the long thread side by side below:
With the long screenshot placed side by side, you can see the way the page rolls. Above the images, I was first shown images of carpet cleaning machines. But Google recognized my intent (finding a contractor to remove the wine stain from my carpet) and made suggestions.
Looking at the results, you will first notice the two Google Guaranteed paid search results. Also known as LSA (Local Search Ads), Google Guaranteed services are offered by 99 Calls and are probably the most cost-effective paid ads available, as long as a business can pass the rigorous verification process.
Next, you’ll see the maps section, including a sponsored map placement in the top spot. Next on the page are the organic results (this is the section that requires great SEO practices to be found). There are a couple of local carpet cleaning businesses found in this section as well as some directory entries like Angie’s and Yelp.
Now what if my search was done on my phone without asking Siri? What if I simply type the same keywords into my Chrome browser? Here are the results that come up:
Look familiar? It should! Yes, try this at home. You will find that voice search and typing your search into a browser will yield the same results. Paid ads will be found the same, whether the business is using Google Guaranteed or Google Ads.
Now I’ll conduct the same search on my desktop computer.
Of course, the larger desktop monitor provides greater depth because of the larger screen. Still, the same companies are coming up on the first page of the search.
Here’s the Question Businesses Should be Asking:
“So if the same practices for producing great SEO will yield results for voice search as they do with typing in questions and keywords, what are these practices and how can I rank my business when customers are searching for my services?”
The same advice that was given back in 2019 in this blog is still relevant today. I’ll add a couple more that are also important. Below are the best practices for getting found in any type of online search:
- Format your content to be featured in snippets (use headers, lists, and short paragraphs)
- Create content based on commonly asked questions in a conversational tone
- Get more 5-star reviews! If you don’t have many dozens, make this your top priority
- Make sure your site is designed for mobile-first indexing (they all should be by now)
- Include relevant local information to show your viewers (and Google) that you’re local
- Keep content simple and clean
- Get built for speed. Landing pages should load within two seconds.
I’d like to add, “It’s that simple”, but the reality is, ranking in any form on searches is tough stuff. As you can see from the examples above, there are many more paid positions on the first page of search results. Google Guaranteed and Google Ads PPC are taking the most coveted positions. This is true no matter how you search. The truth is, trying SEO practices, even mastering them all, will not yield the same results (and by results, if you’re a contractor, I mean leads) as they did in recent years. In order to get found and get called with enough frequency to stay afloat, businesses need to utilize other strategies and a lot more of their marketing budget to paid ads. For more information on how the first page of Google has (evolved or devolved – you decide) over time, see this article, entitled The Incredible Shrinking First Page of Google.
For more information on SEO, ranking with keywords and voice searches, and pay-per-click or pay-per-lead marketing, call the experts at 99 Calls!