Say What? 5 Ways to Optimize Results for Voice-Activated Searches

A scant three months after Apple released its iPhone 4S, the debate over how the device’s speech –recognition personal assistant, AKA Siri, will change search is in full effect.

Siri, which can do everything from taking dictation for text messages to writing emails and scheduling meetings, has left digital marketers wondering how it will change online search behavior and what, if any, effect it will have on traditional SEO techniques.

The issue will only be compounded further in the coming years as mobile searches are expected to increase from nine percent to 20 percent of total queries by 2012, according to recent report from researchers at RBC Capital Markets. As mobile searches and voice recognition technologies gain popularity, the following marketing strategies can help companies increase the likelihood of ranking at the top of mobile search results:

Optimize social profiles

In some instances, Siri’s search results have nothing to do with a company’s current organic and pay-per-click rankings. For example, when searching for a venue, Siri’s search results are based upon a searcher’s physical location and data from Yelp. Because of this Siri won’t be sending customers your way even if your business ranks number one for “best local food.”

Siri search results

Advice: To better your chances of becoming one of Siri’s suggested answers focus efforts on strengthening content on geographically-based applications such as Foursquare, Facebook Places, Google Reviews and Yelp.  As Yelp recommendations are embedded within Siri’s current software, it’s recommended that companies optimize these profiles in order to target to mobile searchers.

Interact with customers

Simply setting up a profile on Twitter, Facebook and other social networks isn’t enough to spark communication in today’s digital age. Rather, businesses need to provide open communication with customers to establish an online presence.  Apple is reportedly working on Siri’s application programming interface, which will ultimately be the  protocol through which Siri would interact with other services (ie. Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and apps. Be ready!

Advice: Research the applications your competitors use to interact with their audience and ensure you have a strong representation on these because soon Siri will be operating just about everywhere. Following this, be sure to monitor the activity your social networks receive and respond to customer feedback – both positive and negative.

Earn customer reviews

Companies looking to rank high on mobile search results should focus on acquiring genuine reviews by building an online fan base. Offer customers reasons to use your services through special discounts, incentives and most importantly, high-quality customer service.


Advice: Encourage customers to review your services online. While this is the most time consuming marketing tactic, it is also the most influential to Siri SEO. Review-based websites such as Yelp and Urban Spoon have installed monitoring systems to block businesses from posting spam or stuffing inauthentic reviews on profile pages.

Create a mobile site

 This isn’t newsworthy advice, yet many companies have withheld developing a mobile version of their website for one odd reason or another. But as mobile searches are expected to grow exponentially in the upcoming years, the clock is ticking. Thankfully, creating a mobile site is quick and easy with publishing platforms such as WordPress and Drupal.

mobile website

Advice: When designing the site, clearly feature your business’s contact information and operating hours directly from the homepage. This will improve Siri’s chances of locating the pertinent information to deliver to its searchers, and in turn help deliver customers to your doorstep.

Claim your business listing

The quickest and simplest way to enhance your rankings in mobile search (and online) is to list your business through the main search engines: Google, Yahoo and Bing.


Advice: Registering is free and some allow companies to add photos and videos to help personalize their advertisements.

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Comments on this post

  1. I have been playing with voice search for a while trying to save my fingers from arthritis. But I dream for a day when no keyboards are needed. Hopefully it arrives soon, Im getting old.

    Great tips Liz!

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