SEO Tips to Rise to the Top of Local, Vocal and Visual Search

It seems that SEO has gone local, vocal and visual - the question is, have you?

What ever happened to the days of simply stuffing keywords into the content of your web pages. Ahhh, yes, the good old days - NOT!

Optimizing a site for search continues to evolve, and I honestly don’t see that it will ever stop. As long as people are empowered with new devices or ways to access information, expect that optimizing your site for search (in whatever form that comes in) is going to be an ongoing process.

(New to SEO? Start here)

There are best practices that those in the SEO game (myself included) have been practicing and pushing for quite some time. Case in point…

These days Alexa, Siri and OK Google are at our every beck and call. We can’t even make a dinner choice without first consulting Google for a “near me now” option and all too soon we’ll be using our phone’s camera to initiate a search.

The internet is a buzz with businesses that have a new found respect for optimization tactics with the promise of capitalizing on local, vocal and visual search domination (with many of the points my colleagues and I have been pushing for the last 20+ years - it’s fine, we're not bitter).

So for those that are ready to listen, learn, and initiate; I’ve created a few SEO tips to get you on the path towards optimizing your inbound marketing strategy.

Tip #1: Get Hip to Image Searches

According to a study done in August 2017 by Jumpshot, 21.8% of searches on Google were image searches. Still think you don’t need to up your game in this area? And with Google Lens already enabled and turning your Pixel’s camera into a search box, it’s time to wake up.

Here’s my starter pack on getting your site ready for the image search party.

Employ a strong logo

As people continue to look to their phones for business validation, you need to make sure that your logo is strong, distinct and is clearly visible on your website and is at your location. This is an easy way to generate brand awareness and familiarity. And it’s not just for the customer, Google will be looking for these similarities and will increase your credibility in search rankings.

Add alt tags

Yes, they are still important. Search engines use alt tags to categorize what the image is. So if someone takes a picture of your product, Google can quickly match the picture to a name and vice versa.

Use high quality, on-site pictures

When you are uploading pictures of your product or business, make sure that they are original, high quality images that were taken at your location. Pictures carry data that Google uses to rank them; data like the location, date and time the picture was taken. If you want to appeal to your locale, you want Google to know where your locale is.

Pimp your pics

Add text, descriptive captions an names to images files that say what the picture is. When you upload a picture of your logo, it will set a default title: logo.jpg. Pimp this up to add better brand visibility to search engines. Make it, company_name_logo_.jpg.

Add an image site map

Yep. You can and should submit an xml sitemap. Sitemaps tell search engines the full story about your web page, images and videos that they may otherwise miss.

Open Graph Tags

When you post a link to Facebook and it automatically pulls in an image and some description of that link, you have Open Graph tags to thank. If you have a website, start tagging your content to make sure the best screen shots and captions are representing your hard work.

Reduce Image sizes

Bigger is not better when it comes to images, so be sure to keep your file sizes in check. Big means slow and Google hates slow loading pages, especially on a mobile device! The faster the loading time, the better you’ll rank.

* Beyond this starter pack there’s a lot more you can and should be doing from an image optimization standpoint. When you’re ready to really dig deep, check out Moz’s Whiteboard Friday on SEO for photos, visuals and graphics.

Tip #2: Voice Optimize

In 2017, 87% of voice searches were made using a mobile device and 20% of the total mobile search queries were made through voice search. What’s more is that almost 53% of the time, voice search is used while the searcher is driving. Clearly, voice searches are no longer niche, and should be treated as a credible source for search scoring and a pool of potential leads.

There are two takeaways for voice search optimization: use conversational language and featured snippets.

In a recent study, KPBC found that nearly 70% of Google Assistant requests were recorded in natural, conversational sentences. This means that meeting the needs of long-tail keywords has changed. Keep your titles casual and when you’re creating content that is intended for voice searches, make sure that you’re writing it as a conversation and not an editorial. Even better, write your content surrounding a title that is a question.

Voice Search Question Example - How to Make Seafood Gumbo?

What’s bigger, however, is the featured snippet. The featured snippet is the summary of the answer to a user’s question, and sites that show for featured snippets in voice searches have a distinctive upper hand.

These can be tough to rank for if you don’t already have a high ranking score, but some keyword research could yield bountiful results on how to position your brand for featured snippet success. When you are conducting research, get in a searchers shoes. What would they ask in order to find your site. Pick questions around content that you already rank well for and use the “people also ask” area at the bottom of a result that doesn’t already have a snippet for great content to use in your featurable content.

When you are creating your snippet, make sure you are being factual and organized. Lists, paragraphs and tables are the three major types of featured snippets. Paragraphs need to be short, between 40 and 50 words, and your tables absolutely have to present data in a clean and easily scannable way. When someone is trying to find data in a pinch, they will scroll until they find it without having to read much of anything. Make the answer stands out, and you can fill the rest of the space with the rich content that will pull the searcher further into your site.

Tip #3: Think Globally, Rank Locally

This has never not been important. However, as voice and image searches are closing in on impacting your local marketing, it’s time to really stake a claim for your local online presence.

Everything that I’ve written above will help you with ranking locally, but the work isn’t done just yet.

It’s time to make some magic out of Google’s local business listings by adding the power of image search (as in a picture of your storefront). Take picture. Lots of them, and load them up. Add titles like we talked about earlier, but don’t edit the EXIF file details. These are the location and date information that Google uses to connect your business to its location on the map. The more you validate your location and your present existence, the better credibility you will have with Google.

Also, you should be encouraging engagement on your Google Map Listing. Get reviews, get people to check in, have people share your information for you on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. The more user traffic and engagement you generate, the more you’ll stand out on your local map.

Lastly, create a page with your business’s name on all of the social media platforms. Make a Facebook, an Instagram, a Twitter. Even if you don’t plan on being an active social user, utilize these platforms as an opportunity to say who you are and link to your website and Google Business Profile (which if you haven’t set up, do that immediately). You can use a tool like Knowem.com to find your name on multiple social channels with one quick search and tie them back to your business profile for higher user traffic ratings.

Tip #4: Dig Deeper

Now it’s time to start digging deeper into maximizing and futureproofing your SEO strategy for image, voice and location. Here are some additional resources for your reading pleasure:

Topic Clusters & The Future of SEO: Learn what Google wants to see in your content to win top ranks on search.

Micromoments - Mobile:A guide to winning in the shift to mobile search queries.

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