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How To Optimise For Voice Search On Alexa, Siri, Google and Cortana

17th July 2020

Voice search has grown rapidly in popularity and every business needs to optimise their presence so customers can find them and their products and services when using Apple Siri, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Microsoft Cortana.

Here are the basic steps to optimise a business for voice search:

  • Understand the voice search ecosystem. People use a wide variety of devices and Google, Apple, Siri and Cortana have relatively equal voice search market share.
  • Understand the three types of business voice search. You can optimise a business for discovery, brand and knowledge voice search queries.
  • Claim and optimise your Google My Business listing. Google My Business powers all business results in Google Assistant.
  • Claim and optimise your Apple Maps business listing. On Apple Siri, business search results are powered by Apple Maps Connect.
  • Claim and optimise your Bing Places business listing. Bing Places powers search results for Microsoft Cortana.
  • Claim and optimise your Yelp business listing. Amazon Alexa gets search results from Yelp. Yelp also provides photos and reviews for Apple Maps and Bing Places.

Why Optimise For Voice Search?

Voice search use continues to grow not only with the proliferation of smart speakers, but on phone, computers and other devices as well. And people use voice assistants not just for general questions and tasks, but also to find businesses, products and services.

A 2018 BrightLocal survey showed some very interesting results:

  • 50% of people used voice search to find a business over the past year.
  • 74% of voice search users looked for a business weekly.
  • 46% of voice search users looked for a business daily.

That was nearly two years ago and voice search has continued to grow since then. Bottom line, people are using voice assistants to look for businesses. Does your business show up for these customers?

Voice Assistant Market Share

There are four major voice assistants: Apple, Siri, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana, and Amazon Alexa. There’s also Samsung Bixby and a few others assistants but they have almost no market share.

Most people assume that Amazon Alexa dominates voice search. Indeed, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), Amazon does have a 70% market share of the home speaker market, Google Home has 25% and Apple has 5%. However, this is only for home speakers.

Mobile phones dominate voice search and market share changes considerably when you consider all voice-enabled devices. A 2019 study by Microsoft shows that Google Assistant and Apple Siri both share the greatest market share for voice assistants at 36% each. Amazon Alexa actually is third with 25% and Microsoft Cortana has 19%.

Voice search market share pie chart

According to the same BrightLocal study, when searching for businesses, the most popular devices for voice search are smartphones, then desktops / laptops and tablets. Smart speakers are the least used for business searches.

Voice search mdevices bar chart

Optimise For Apple Siri

Apple Siri has 36% market share for voice search. It gets its business data from Apple Maps Connect which powers not only business data for Siri, but for Apple Maps as well. You can follow our guide to claim and optimise your Apple Maps listing. But the basic process is to go to Apple Maps Connect, sign in with an Apple ID, then claim your business listing and optimise your information. You’ll notice that Apple Maps Connect has no reviews or photos. That’s because Apple gets reviews and photos primarily from Yelp, but also from a few other places depending on category. So, in order to best optimise your business for Apple Siri, and Apple Maps, it’s important that you also claim and optimise your Yelp business listing.

Optimise For Amazon Alexa

Alexa dominates the smart speaker market with a 70% market share. However, it only has 25% overall market share for voice search when you consider all devices (phones, computers, game console, etc.).

Alexa gets business data, photos and reviews from two primary sources. Yelp provides most of the business information, photos and reviews for Alexa search. And in mid-2018, Yext began submitting business listings directly to Alexa.

If you happen to be a Yext customer already, your business information will be pushed directly to Alexa and there is nothing more you need to do. If you’re not a Yext customer, just make sure that your Yelp business listing is claimed and optimised and Alexa will use that.

Also, be aware that unscrupulous companies are calling businesses warning that they won’t be found in Alexa unless they buy a special listing. This is a scam trying to sell you a Yext listing under false pretences.

Optimise For Microsoft Cortana

Finally, there’s Microsoft Cortana which surprisingly has close to 20% market share. Because it’s embedded in Microsoft Windows, Xbox and Microsoft Office, one-in-five voice searches are done through Cortana.

Cortana get its general business information from Bing Places. While Bing has virtually no market share on mobile, it still has significant market share for desktop web search. And with 20% market share in voice search, it’s definitely worthwhile to claim and optimise your Bing Places listing.

As with Siri and Alexa, Microsoft Cortana gets most of its business reviews and photos from Yelp. You will sometimes see reviews and images from TripAdvisor in certain business categories, but most will come from Yelp.

Claim And Optimise Your Yelp Listing

As you’ve seen above, and whether you like Yelp or not, your Yelp listing is critical to voice search optimisation. Yelp syndicates images and reviews to Apple Maps which powers Apple Siri, and Bing Maps which powers Microsoft Cortana. And it syndicates business data, images and reviews to Amazon Alexa.

You want to claim and optimise your Yelp listing as much as possible. Make sure your business information is complete and accurate. Upload a good set of photos for your business.

You Are Now Optimised For Voice Search

Once you’ve claimed and optimised your Google My Business, Apple Maps Connect, Bing Places and Yelp business listing, you’ll be well positioned to show up in both discovery and direct / brand voice search queries.

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