In this article, I will show you how Online Reputation Management and Voice Search Optimization will help you climb the ladder of the Google local 3-pack, improve your local business search ranking and dominate Voice Search's Zero Position.
Google changes the way we search and see the Internet and as a result, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is reinvented constantly. Services like Online Reputation Management (ORM) and Voice Search Optimization (VSO) are necessary these days since, for most businesses, SEO by itself is not enough any more. For those who have not noticed, Google search ranking logic has changed yet again. Content is still most important, however now, User Generated Content (UGC) like the online reviews, and content structure like Structured Data and Microformats (Rich Snippets), have a significant effect on search ranking and relevance.
What is the connection between a business's online reputation and Google's local 3-pack?
Let me back up a bit. I am sure you all have noticed Google's local 3-pack, the three local results Google shows right after a map, when you search for a product or service. Have a look at the following example:
- Google's local 3-pack
Do you notice the review ranking in stars from 1 to 5 and the number of reviews, right next to it in the parenthesis?
What are the factors that affect the search ranking when it comes to UGC?
Now; according to Google's new search ranking logic, the effects of these reviews to the search ranking and relevance are the following:
- Every user-generated review is treated as relevant content, increasing search results ranking based on importance (helpfulness) and recency.
- Google’s logic considers both website's content and UGC (together with many other factors such as accurate business listings), improving your ranking based on volume and backlinks.
- Your average star rating and number of reviews, affects your visibility in results, regardless of how well you perform in all other areas of SEO.
- UGC, such as product reviews and customer testimonials, give the search engine spiders the content they need to properly evaluate and categorize a website. UGC Provides Unique Content for Your Website and Search engines thrive on a steady stream of unique, searchable content.
Voice activated devices, Google's answer box, digital assistants, in other words Voice Search / Command
OK Google, what is the Google answer box?
- What is the Google answer box?
Voice command and speech recognition is not a new thing!
The first electronic speech synthesizer was produced in 1936 by AT&T's Bell Labs, called the Voder, followed by the popular toy "Speak and Spell" by Texas Instruments in 1978. In 1982 Covox produced and marketed digital sound products, like the Voice Master, Sound Master and The Speech Thing. Covox ultimately sold its products out to Creative Labs, Inc., in 1993 which released VoiceAssist for Windows, that was provided for free with its Sound Blaster products. In 1995 Dragon released discrete word dictation-level speech recognition software and in 1997 Dragon introduced "Naturally Speaking", the first "continuous speech" dictation software available (meaning you no longer need to pause between words for the computer to understand what you're saying). In other words the technology is around for over 80 years now, with the last 30 years being available to the public via various kinds of software. However, for the past few years it is massively supported by various companies in the form of digital assistants and smart home devices. Today, you can actually connect your home to any device you can imagive and control it via multiple voice activated devices.
So we can definitely say that the voice search is gaining on us, since according to March 7th 2018's voicebot.ai's research, at least 20% of the US adults own a smart speaker voice search capable device. That is over 47 million people and the number is expected to greatly increase by the end of 2018! Now; voice search is far more competitive than any other search, since there is only one answer to a question. In other words, when someone asks a question there is no possibility to be second or third. It is win or lose scenario.
Voice Search Optimization. Are there any shortcuts?
First things first! Before I give away what really affects the voice search ranking, let me first point out a few important things:
- There is no paid option to rank first in voice search today. In other words, you cannot buy the first position, as you do with AdWords, no matter how much money you have. You have to earn it!
- No one really has a lead, since as it is so new.
- Not much sexy here other than the interface. The work is already known.
- The age of shortcuts ended several years ago.
- Building for voice search and building Actions and Skills are very different activities.
- Branding now, must include a persona for your business. You have to think of your business as a living entity and ask yourself how it looks like.
- Success comes from a combined investment across areas.
What are the factors that affect the voice search ranking and determine who is the zero position winner?
According to Google's new search ranking logic factors, for the so called zero position, are the following:
- The content of the website must be in a conversational manner. That is because conversational content is the best source for questions and answers to feed the answer database of a digital assistant. If you think that this is part of a science fiction script and we are still from from it, think again. On November 28th 2017, a team of University of Washington students and faculty has won a $500,000 prize from Amazon after winning a competition designed to produce an artificial intelligence agent capable of coherent and sustained conversation with humans. If you don't take my word for it, just try to say this to an Amazon device: "Alexa, let's chat". The goal of the competition was simple but much harder than it sounds: create a computer program that allows anyone have a typical 20-minute conversation with Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant. So, if you have an old and forgotten FAQ, dust it off and keep adding to it, until you create a super FAQ that covers every aspect of your business.
- Make use of the new web technologies and trends by:
- Implementing Structured Data on your website. I have said it before and I will say it again: The best way to improve your search engine ranking is to improve your Google search results by marking up your content items. This will help the search engines to better understand what your website is all about, categorize it and rank it. In other words, you share your website's content in a way that the search engines understand and structure it in their own database. It is like you connect your database with their database.
- Be mobile friendly and mobile fast. Responsive web design and Google AMP are two very important technologies you should introduce to your website, not only because they will fair better in the search engines' search results, but because they will allow your visitors who are using their mobile devices to experience your website the way they are supposed to.
- Optimize for performance. Build your website with Page Speed in mind. Page loading spead and Google's PageSpeed guidelines are very importand factors that contribute to the zero position ranking, especially if you include the cell phone digital assistants, like Google's Assistant Answer Box, which makes the optimization for mobile performance now a necessity.
- Manage ratings and reviews proactively and that means, answering and managing the negative and positive reviews.
- Manage your overall data footprint.
- Build a unique brand persona. If your brand was a person, who would it be?
Final tips. What are the voice ranking systems listen for:
- Information satisfaction
Highly rated sites fair better in the search results.
Conversational and structured content, mobile performance and friendliness, adaptation of Google guidelines and new technologies and trends can make the difference in zero position domination.
There are no shortcuts to success in Voice Search. Data integrity, cleanliness and deployment matter more than ever.
Optimizing your brand for voice search can help rank higher in SERP, improve brand engagement & recognition and improve customer experience.
You might be closer to dominate Google's local 3-Pack and Voice Search, than you think! Improving some of the things that hold you back on your website can make a huge difference. We can help! Submit your business/brand for a free audit now.
Looking forward to reading your thoughts on the subject. What you have tried, what works and what does not, in your opinion. Feel free the leave your comments below.
Credits: Duane Forrester, searchenginejournal.com. Image credit: Designed by Freepik