“Hey, Google! How many mice are there in the UK?” “When does my local pub open?” “What time does the match kick off ?” Voice search may at first glance seem just a bit of fun, but it is becoming an increasingly important tool for businesses to consider

The number of people using voice search bots is on the rise, whether they are opting for Siri on the iPhone and other smartphone assistants, or devices like Google Home or Amazon Echo. ComScore predicts that by 2020, 50% of all searches will be carried out using voice search.

So, what does this mean for your business? As users move away from ‘traditional’ search, your business will need to make sure it is making the most of voice search.

Points to consider:

1. Aim for position zero In last month’s column, I discussed the ‘Featured Snippets‘ results that Google searches now produce. Google Home and Google Assistant read these snippets out first, so make sure your business features in them.

Consider what questions your customers commonly ask that relate to your core products and services, and build content around this. Remember though, that where traditional SEO in the past relied heavily on keywords and content, voice search relies on you answering the question.

Keep your answers concise and conversational.

2. Perfect your local SEO Thirty-nine percent of voice search users are looking for a business‘s information, so ensure your Google My Business and Google Maps listing is verified and optimised. Complete your profile so when a user asks to find local businesses, your business appears at the top. Little things, like a fully completed listing with store times, services and a bit about what you do, go a long way to helping you achieve voice search success.

For example, when a customer asks, “Where can I find T-shirt printing in London?”, “What time does the nearest printers shut?”, and “Where is my nearest printer?”, your (completed) Google My Business and Google Maps information will help your business be the one selected.

3. On-page content Content found using voice search should be concise, grammatical and answer the question appropriately. It should reflect how you might engage with another user rather than a Google bot using the traditional SEO approach where content is built around keywords and lots of content creation.

Focus on providing text that your customer may find useful and helpful, such as FAQs. Users want answers and they want them within seconds. On average, each user won‘t listen to an answer for voice search for more than 15 seconds, so you have that amount of time to get your point across to the customer. It’s all about meeting the information needs of the customer.

4. Important There is still room for traditional SEO, so don’t rush to your website and delete pages of content. Do, however, take time to consider whether the content you currently have is authentic, useful for the user and answers customers’ queries. The factors mentioned in this article also help with non-voice searches: writing content in a natural, engaging and conversational way and optimising local search will all help your website‘s visibility in Google‘s results pages.

Andrew Langridge is from eTrader, one of the industry’s leading suppliers of websites to garment decorators across the UK.