Alexa, Where’s my business?

Voice Search Microphone

Voice search is no longer a far-off idea. A growing number of people now use voice search to browse the web for goods and services. Attorneys are taking notice. Our team at Consultwebs has heard concern from law firms about how this new form of search will affect their business.

In 2014, we learned about how Google’s Hummingbird algorithm would start to include voice search. Back then, we were just beginning to understand the impact of this development. Today, we can provide much deeper insight about this technology.

Adoption of Voice Search Is Increasing Rapidly

Voice searches are being used more and more across all platforms that support them. Google reports that voice accounts for 20 percent of the searches on its mobile app and on Android devices, according to Search Engine Land.

The graph below shows the rapid increase in the use of the search term, “lawyer near me,” among Google users:

Graph of Interest Over Time in "Lawyer Near Me"

In May, Bing reported that voice searches accounted for 25 percent of the searches performed on the Windows 10 taskbar. Andrew Ng, the chief scientist at the Baidu search engine estimates that, by 2020, 50 percent of searches performed on its platform would be from voice.

The boom in voice search should come as no surprise. In Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report 2016, she discusses the reasons why people elect to use voice search in a query instead of typing. She found multitasking to be the most common reason. Using voice search is the best option when your hands are full.

Hands & Vision-Free Interaction

Amazon’s Booming Success With Alexa and Echo

Amazon’s Echo and Alexa products proved to be hot sellers during the holidays.

The use of Alexa in product integration also grabbed major attention at the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Yahoo Finance reports. Manufacturers now integrate Alexa in a broad range of products, including self-driving cars, refrigerators and air purifiers.

Amazon reports that Huawei recently unveiled its Mate 9 smartphone – the first one to come with Alexa pre-installed. Hyundai integrates Alexa into its self-driving car, the Ioniq, allowing drivers to turn on their car with a voice command.

Mattel introduced Aristotle, a voice-activated baby monitor that answers both parents’ and kids’ questions, while Whirlpool announced that many of its smart appliances will respond to Alexa commands starting in early 2017.

How Can You Take Advantage of Voice Search’s Growing Popularity?

Here is what we know so far about optimizing for voice search:

Amazon Alexa currently uses Bing for default searches that it cannot understand. Alexa uses Yelp to return local business results.

Alexa understands primarily three intents for Yelp:

  • You are looking for a local business (such as a lawyer or plumber).
  • The business is popular (perhaps based on the listing’s view frequency).
  • The business is highly rated (based on reviews).

Alexa Lawyer Results

Our Director of Strategy and local search guru at Consultwebs, gave some thoughts about the future of voice search.

His intuition is that voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant and Cortana are still in the early stages and will be battling for domination as our collective ‘friend in the cloud’ for some time.

“Since Amazon does not ‘own the phone,’ its goal is to have Alexa just be there and waiting in the products around you,” he added. “Amazon has a defined advantage in the long run over Google and Siri in that Americans like stuff, and Alexa can give you whatever you want in two hours – in some larger markets – by just saying a simple phrase like, ‘Alexa, I need eggs, milk, and French bread delivered today.’”

What You Can Do Today with Voice Search?

Let’s start with Yelp.

Yelp is one of the hardest sites when it comes to getting reviews from clients. Yelp also has a lovely way of “un-recommending” reviews that the site finds to be illegitimate. However, because Yelp is a key part of Amazon’s voice search algorithm, it is more important than ever to gain reviews on this platform.

Yelp’s code of conduct prohibits businesses from requesting reviews on its platform. However, you can make it known to clients that your law firm is open to feedback on the web and that you have a profile on Yelp.

In addition to getting reviews, you should keep your law firm’s profile on Yelp as optimized as possible and return any inquiries quickly. This will help to increase your firm’s position on Yelp and, in turn, increase the likelihood that your firm will be the local result that Alexa provides for relevant voice searchers.

The way you optimize for Bing is similar to the way you optimize for Google or any other search engine. However, you should consider specific differences outlined by Search Engine Journal.

Currently, at Consultwebs, we are refining how best to optimize for voice search on Bing. We can do this by paying close attention to the queries that we see coming in. We are looking for changes that indicate the queries are natural language rather than typed.

Based on our analysis, we can develop content that is based on conversational language such as, “If someone is injured on my property, am I responsible for their medical bills?”

In addition to these changes, we are also staying on top of keeping our sites optimized for mobile search. As we mentioned before, 20 percent of Google’s mobile searches are through voice. That percentage should only increase as Google moves toward a “mobile-first” index.

The key takeaway: Don’t underestimate the power of voice search. To stay at the top of your industry, you will need to pay attention to this dramatic shift in the way people are searching.