Voice, Local, and Image Search Optimization For Your Website
Remember, it's Search Engine Optimization (SEO), not Google Optimization (GO). What do I mean by this? What are some of the other major search engines out there? Well, what if I told you that Yelp is a search engine? So is Facebook, so is Twitter, Amazon, Quora, Pinterest, Youtube, etc... Get the picture?
SEO is no longer jamming your site with keywords. In fact, today that will get you penalized. So what can you do? Well you can start by making sure that your site is optimized for three major types of search that will help you get noticed across all of the different platforms that are being queried today.
Exactly how much should you be focusing on voice search? Recent studies found that in the next few years over 50% of search inquires will be by voice. Amazon Echo uses Alexa, Microsoft introduced us to Cortana, we all know Apple's Siri and of course there's the Google Assistant. Now more than ever it's important to incorporate voice into your SEO strategy. Here are a few suggestions:
- It's about the conversation. Over the past two decades, we’ve conditioned ourselves to succinctly query with as few words as possible to traditional search engines. However with voice search, and a little Artificial Intelligence (AI) spoken language connects people to what they’re searching for with an immediacy, convenience and intimacy that text-only search could never provide.
- Mobile Optimization. It's extremely important that your site is mobile friendly. Goolge states that over 20% of mobile searches are voice searches. Ensure that you have a mobile layout, the correct href tags for your phone numbers (click to call) and easy, intuitive navigation.
- Claim and verify your business. Facebook, Yelp, Google and Bing all give higher priority search results for business related searches to businesses that are claimed and verified. It's a simple step that you can take right now to get your business recommended via a voice search.
- Include your address in your listing. A common voice search command is "Italian Restaurant's near me" or something similar. Your device will gather information from Google and Apple Maps (which in themselves are search engines!) when presenting you with recommendations. Be sure that your business is accurately represented in these apps.
- Boost those ratings. Remember what we said about Yelp being a search engine? Well, when voice searches occur, your device can rely heavily on the ratings from these sites. Many searchers even specifically search for something such as "Where is the closest five-star steak restaurant?" Increase your chance of being found by increasing your ratings.
If you have a local business or one that targets audiences in a specific geo-location, then you will want to move beyond general guides for search and social optimization.
- Claim and verify your business. Local businesses benefit the most by having a complete online profile for their business page. This should include name, address, hours, hi-resolution photos and a map. Any other details that you can add will help with SEO and help your client know more about what you are about. Be sure to claim your Google My Business page right away. It's also a good idea to add your business to other business listing sites, including Bing, Yahoo, Yelp, Foursquare, Citysearch, and TripAdvisor.
- Add some local flavor to your site. Local news, attractions, event and activities are all a great way to attract local customers. Be sure that customers can easily contact you by way of Phone or Address and ensure that these are accurate on all of your local business listings.
- Positive reviews. Your users are increasingly relying on reviews before making purchasing decisions. Less than 5% of users claim that they do not care about online reviews. That leaves over 95% using online reviews as one the factors when making a decision with over 60% saying they were important or very important! A great Social media campaign is one way that you can entice your customers to leave positive reviews. Be sure to monitor your reviews and respond immediately to an negative or sub-optimal reviews.
- Utilize those free business directories. Spend a little time to ensure that your business is listed on the many business listing sites that are available, especially ones that are specific to your field. You can use an automatic service such as Localeze to automatically add your business to multiple sites.
Google Images accounts for a considerable number of searches, dwarfing those performed on YouTube, Google Maps, Amazon and Facebook combined. Searches in Google Images are made more than 10 times as often as any search on Bing or Yahoo, and they represent more than 40 times the number of searches on Facebook.
- Use alt tags. Always use clear, accurate and descriptive text in your alt tags. Not only do alt tags display text when your images fails to load correclty, but it it is also used by screen readers to describe the image. Tip: Be sure to use proper and relevant key words.
- Replace generic filenames. Many images have automatically generated file names such as IMG_1340 or Photo009. Be sure to rename these images with a descriptive filename explaining what the image is about. Search engines look for keywords in image file names as much as they do your regular web content.
- Use the correct image file size. Large images will drastically slow your page load time. This causes two major issues: 1) You will lose search rankings and 2) Your user will leave (bounce) before they even saw what you had to offer. Make sure that your images are compressed and even more so, use CSS to load the correct ratio image depending on screen size rather than resizing one image via HTML to fit to your screen.