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Optimizing Your Dental Practice for Voice Search

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The times are changing, but is your marketing plan?

Alexa Echo DotNow more than ever, voice search is taking its place in the marketing field. Companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple are changing the way that people search for information. Most of you are probably familiar with devices such as Alexa or Google Home, and many of you may even use such devices, but it doesn’t end there. Recall that almost all Smart Phones also have voice search integrated into them, too. It is through voice search that an opportunity emerges for those who want to be on the forefront of their marketing plans. Many sources suggest that by the year 2020, at least 50% (yes, you read that right – FIFTY PERCENT) of all online searching will be done through voice search, so how can you capitalize on this?

Statistics about “Voice Search”

  • 20% of all US adults have a voice search device
  • One third of those who have a voice search device have more than one
  • 40% of all US adults use some form of voice search every single day
  • 20% of voice search is done through mobile voice search (i.e. Siri)
  • There are an estimated 1 billion voice searches per month
  • Mobile voice search is THREE TIMES more likely to generate local results than that done through a keyboard

What is “Voice Search”?

Voice Search, in its simplest terms, it the ability for a device to recognize your voice and respond to what you’re saying, whether that means answering your question, telling you a joke, or playing music.

How does “Voice Search” work?

Most Voice Search devices have a “wake” term, or a phrase that lets the device know you are speaking to it. For Amazon Echo, you start with the wake word, “Alexa,” while for Google, you begin with, “Okay, Google…” and so on. Thereafter, you can ask about today’s forecast, whether your dog can have cucumbers, or how many grams are in one cup of flour. But that’s not all.

Do you remember when Apple first came out with Siri? At best, it was a frustrating and comical feature that worked about 25% of the time. Now, several years later, Voice Search has really hit its stride, with no sign of slowing down. If 50% of all online searching will be through “Voice Search” by the year 2020, that means the capabilities of these devices will be improving, and your dental practice needs to start optimizing its content now so that it is “Voice Search friendly”. In the future, people may be able to schedule teeth cleanings, ask about the closest dentist, or ask other dental-related questions just through voice search.

Why is Voice Search more popular now?

There are a lot of theories surrounding this question, but the general trend is the same. First of all, it’s easier and faster to use! The average person can talk almost 4 times faster than they can type. The whole attraction behind new products is that is that it enhances our lives, right? Voice Search has certainly found a way to enhance our everyday life. Additionally, growing technology in general is increasingly appealing. It’s cool! I’m sure you know someone who always wants to be the first to have the new iPhone or Drone Technology, and Voice Search isn’t any different. Voice Search is gaining in popularity because so many people want to be a part of this technological shift from what was to what will be. Turns out, the Disney Channel movie Smart House really wasn’t all that far off.

How do search engines choose what sites to get their voice search answers from?

Voice search doesn’t just randomly choose their sources for answering questions. Remember that the point of voice search is to make life easier for the user, so they won’t take their chances with just any source. An estimated 80% of all voice search answers are powered through featured snippets, so it’s safe to say you need to have excellent rankings and even better content to be the source that voice searches turn to for answers. Below is an example of a featured snippet, which is essentially “Rank 0”. You can learn more about featured snippets here.

How can your practice write content that is optimized for Voice Search?

Voice search queries are not like keyboard queries. When you are searching for something using your keyword, you may try to make micro-sentences to save time and get the results you want. Instead of searching, “What is the best place to get good sushi in Denver,” you would likely type, “Best sushi Denver.” Voice search is not like that. It comes more natural for us when we are speaking to form complete sentences or real questions.

So what does that mean for your practice?

Google’s best practices are ever-changing, but circa 2018, one thing has stayed consistent…great content ranks better than “keyword stuffing”. Here are some tips for how to write better content for your dental practice.

  1. Create valuable content. When writing your content, it’s important to consider the keywords you are targeting. However, it is more important that you are writing with intention for an audience who will find your content helpful and informative.
  2. Write naturally. We’re going to have to take a step back to middle school writing for this one. When writing your content, it’s okay (good, even) to write with a tone that people can build trust in. Have you ever read content that felt like it was written by a literal robot? Not good. Write your content like you were speaking to your patient or sending them an email.
  3. Keep the layout simple. Most people have a hard time following a page that jumps all over the place or has flashing objects, so to speak. Don’t make your potential patients work any harder than they already do to engage with your content. Keep the layout simple and easy for people to follow.
  4. Use appropriate photos and videos. Using photos and videos are an excellent way to both keep your layout simple and provide information. Photos can be used to create a natural divide between keynote parts of your content and keep your reader engaged in your entire post, not just the first paragraph. Similarly, supplementing your content with an informative video appeals to every kind of user and greatly increases the chances your potential patients will stay interested.
  5. Answer questions. This one is KEY. By writing common questions and answering them, you increase your dental practice’s chances of becoming a featured snippet. This is because when Google is trying to find the best answer to a common question, it helps to have the question and the answer in your content. As Google’s bots crawl through your content, your blog post that directly answers, “Can flossing spread bacteria?” is more likely to be viewed as relevant.
  6. Create shareable content. Content that is liked or shared is more likely to perform well in Voice Search results. Make sure you are sharing your blogs or relevant content on social platforms and newsletters and encourage your followers to do so, as well. The average voice search result has over 1000 shares. Get your content out there!

While some of these tips are explicitly optimized for voice search, most of them continue to circle back to the importance of writing great content. The better your content, the more likely you are to become a featured snippet, and the more likely your practice has a shot at becoming a source for voice search queries.

Why is Local Search important for Voice Search?

At a glance, Local Search is how your dental practice appears on search engines based on geographical limitations. For example, when someone searches for “the best Thai food in Denver”, you won’t find Thai restaurants in Miami. Local Search can look like this:

Why does this matter?

Recall earlier that mobile voice search is three times more likely to generate local results than queries through a keyboard. Like many of us, potential patients are probably in a rush or on the go, searching for something that’s close by, when they are using a voice search. Your users are relying on the results of these “micro-moments” to make decisions about where they will do business. As a result, Voice Search trends towards that aspect of queries and results.

If your dental practice’s listing isn’t 100% accurate across all directories, especially places like Google My Business and Yelp, you may be sabotaging your success without even realizing it. Your listings need to be accurate, unanimous, claimed, and verified. This means keeping things like the word “Suite” instead of “Ste” the same across the board. Make sure you are staying on top of this regularly to give your dental practice the best chance at capturing voice search queries. If you aren’t sure whether or not your listings are optimized across all directories, we can help get you that information.

While having your listings consistent across all directories is of the utmost importance, don’t underestimate the importance of having a complete profile for Google My Business. This means filling out your dental practice’s name, address, phone number, and hours of operation, but it also means filling out your services and answering questions on your Google My Business page, as well.

Answering questions on Google My Business gives your dental practice more credibility in the eyes of both Google and potential patients, so this tactic is a win-win!

 

Having great answers to questions can also increase your relevance, thereby increasing your chances at success in Voice Searches

 

What does the future look like for Voice Search?

It’s hard to say for certain, but Voice Search is gaining momentum now more than ever. People are already using voice search in the dental community to:

  • Discover more about their dental health
  • Find nearby dentists
  • Learn more about a dental practice’s hours and location
  • Research information on dental disorders and treatments

It would not be far off in the future that potential patients will be using Voice Search to:

  • Schedule their dental appointments, such as teeth cleanings
  • Connect with a specific dentist in real life
  • Really anything you can think of!

By now, you probably understand that digital marketing is an ever-changing tactic to help you grow your dental practice. Do you remember when mobile-responsiveness wasn’t even a thought in your head? With all of the information out there, we have the ability to see the digital marketing industry change right before our very eyes and even estimate what marketing will be like in the future. Voice Search isn’t coming, it’s here. It begs the questions…will you be ahead of the curve or behind it?

Omni Premier Marketing wants to help all of our dental practices become knowledgeable and successful in Voice Search. Call us or send us a question today!

Philip McManis

Philip McManis

Originally from Baveria, Germany, Philip McManis has spent the last half of his life in Colorado. Philip has extensive experience in Web Design and Development as well as Graphic Design for print, and most recently, video editing.

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