Although you may have faithfully followed search engine optimization best practices to get your contracting business found easily in Google search, it turns out there is a new game in town. While the popularity of voice search still has a way to go before eclipsing traditional text search, this new method is making serious inroads and must be taken seriously, especially by businesses such as home remodelers or contractors that benefit from local search.

Increasing Popularity of Vocal Search

To understand how popular voice search has become, we should look at a few statistics. Experts estimate that anywhere from 30-50% of all searches will be done vocally by 2020.  In addition, voice commerce sales, which topped $1.8 billion in the U.S. in 2017, are expected to reach $40 billion by 2022.

Clearly, Alexa and Siri are changing the way people search. As a result, businesses will need to change their keyword targeting to reflect these changes. Indeed, a recent survey by SEO tools provider BrightLocal found that nearly 60% of voice users have searched for local businesses within the past year.

But How Does Voice Search Differ From Regular Search?

Voice search differs from regular search because people speak to Alexa or Siri differently from what they type into Google’s search bar.

For example, if someone in New Jersey is looking to do some home remodeling, they might type “home remodeling New Jersey”  into the search bar. On the other hand, with a smart speaker they might ask, “Alexa, who is a good home remodeling contractor near me?” Or they may ask something like, “Alexa, is there someone nearby who does seal coating for driveways?”

From Short to Long-Tail Keywords

One of the main reasons for increasing popularity of vocal search is that people find it easier to ask Alexa or Siri where to find a local contractor instead of typing the words into a search engine. The words they use, however, are different from the short phrases and minimal keywords that you would normally target. Instead of targeting short-tail keywords (one to three words), voice search depends on long-tail keywords (four to six words), which often appear as questions.

Planning for Utterances

According to SEO veterans, the main thing building contractors and home remodelers need to plan for is utterances or long-tail keywords. Utterances will be crucial for creating the type of conversational content that home improvement companies need to get found in voice search. Therefore, contractors need to start anticipating the types of questions people ask about their products or services.

A good place to start is by thinking about what you would say if you needed to hire a contractor. For example, “near me” or “nearby” or “in the area” should be included wherever possible. Targeting exact phrases common to voice search will go a long way towards optimizing your site content.

Keep It Simple

The questions you target should be relatively simple and to the point. People usually don’t ask Siri long-winded questions to get the information they need.

In addition, the amount of content on your page shouldn’t run long either. In other words, your page should stay under 2000 words since people typically use local search to find something quickly. For this reason, Google’s algorithms focus on finding shorter articles for their users.

Google Adapts to Contractors

Using voice search to obtain information about contractors and home service companies has become so commonplace that Google actually introduced a feature on its Assistant in late 2017 to make it easier to get information on tradesmen and similar companies. Essentially, it combines quick-access information with prompts that direct the user to clearly define the type of work they require. If nothing else, this step is a clear indication that these businesses need to optimize for vocal search or risk getting left behind.

For Young and Old Alike

While millennials are more likely to use voice search for home improvement jobs than any other demographic, that doesn’t mean that older people are avoiding this trend.  In fact, adults between 50-60 years old are one of the fastest-growing demographics for voice search. They also prefer the ease of speaking their request to typing into a smartphone or laptop. For this reason, companies need to take all ages into account when optimizing for voice search. 

While it may seem like a wide-open field without clear rules, the good news is that voice search optimization will become more defined as its popularity increases. In the next few years, we will see many more tools and techniques to help businesses reach their consumers more effectively. In the meantime, local businesses such as home remodelers and contractors need to use all of the available methods to optimize for voice search because their business model will soon come to depend on it.