It’s time for local business to take voice search seriously
Pokémon Go and fidget spinners are fads, but voice search for a local business is not, says contributor Jamie Pitman. With new technologies like Google Duplex coming on, local business owners should optimize for voice search.
At this year’s Google I/O conference, Google CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled a brand-new voice assistant, Google Duplex, that introduces a new way to carry out “real-world” tasks over the phone, like booking a hair salon appointment or making reservations at a restaurant.
The ramifications of technologies like this are many, but what really interested me is the fact that this artificial intelligence (AI)-based phone system specifically focuses on interactions between local business and consumers.
Up until now, most discussions around Google voice search have been on gathering information rather than actually performing voice commands with a real-world effect.
The introduction of Google Duplex highlights for me one of the directions Google is headed, namely, the proliferation of tools, algorithms and functionalities designed to improve interactions with local businesses.
Whether the searcher is in the discovery, selection or conversion point of their journey, there will have been something that Google has introduced in the last year or so to make the process quicker and easier for the user (though admittedly at the expense of traffic to local business websites).
I’m going to provide some tips on how local businesses can prepare their websites and business operations for the voice search revolution, but first, let’s take a closer look at why it’s important to get serious about voice search.
Local business searches using voice search are up
My company, BrightLocal, recently performed research that shows that 75 percent of smart speaker owners perform searches for local businesses on a weekly basis, and an astonishing 53 percent say they perform these searches every day.
This frequency of voice search use for local businesses shows just how relevant this technology is to brick-and-mortar locations, but it’s worth noting that elsewhere in the research it’s clear that consumers are using voice search to get information on businesses they’re already aware of, rather than discovering new ones.
Attempting to peek into the voice crystal ball, our study also revealed the sorts of voice search interactions consumers would like to be able to make with local businesses if they could. (We didn’t know Google Duplex was in the works at the time.)