Voice Search for Reputation Management: “What’s the Best Dealership Near Me?”

We’ve talked in the past about the rise of voice search and what it means for your dealership marketing. This impact grows as smart speakers like the Google Home and Amazon Echo skyrocket in popularity. About 15 percent of households now own one.1

The most obvious area of dealership marketing this would affect is search engine optimization. But we know SEO and your online reputation are inextricably linked, so it's a good idea to look at the implications this game-changer in the world of search holds for your digital reputation.

Vocal Phrasing vs. Text

There is an important difference between the “traditional” way of searching for something on the internet versus talking into a smart speaker. Some marketers and dealers will overlook this critical difference between the way we speak and the way we type.

They might recognize that Bing will likely play a larger role in planning than it did before, since Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft’s speakers all rely on it. They may throw around some voice search demographic statistics.

But will they understand the psychology behind vocal phrasing versus a typed query?

Thanks to the way the human brain works, the way we communicate by spoken word could not be more different than the way we communicate through the written word – even if it’s still a machine on the other end of that communication.

When we vocalize a question, we automatically assume a more conversational tone. It’s ingrained in us that another human on the receiving end of our words needs to be able to understand what we’re asking.

You might type “Best Buy HP laptop” into the Google search bar without a second thought. But when speaking, your query is more likely to be a complete and precise “What’s the cheapest HP laptop for sale at Best Buy?”

This is huge. Voice search are queries are actually in question format, have crystal clear intention, and are often looking for something local. The ever-popular “near me” phrase comes to mind.

That means vocal phrasing directly impacts SEO performance.

How does it tie into your dealership’s online reputation management? Think about the qualitative aspects of voice searches: “Where’s the best place to get an oil change,” or “What’s the best dealership near me?” Your reputation will directly influence how you rank (or don’t rank) in those searches.

Simply put, if your online reputation is either negative or not optimized for voice searches, you can expect to be virtually invisible to potential customers using a smart speaker.

So what can you do?

  • Monitor your Reputation. If you weren’t doing this already, it’s past time to start. You have to be aware of your dealership’s public profile across every website, from Google to Facebook and all social sites in between, to make educated decisions about how your dealership is perceived and how to react to that perception.
  • Optimize for Voice Search. Simply having the right keywords in place is no longer enough to rank in the maximum number of voice search results.
  • Think about entire phrases that people might be asking for (like the “best XYZ near me” examples given earlier) and focus on writing content for those. Also consider phrases that match broader queries while including keywords that are locally specific (think “Ford dealership in Your Town”).
  • Remember: All the major smart speakers currently pull information from either Google or Bing (primarily Bing at this point). That means your Google My Business and Bing Places pages should be claimed and up-to-date, complete with your hours of operation, services, and phone number – all the most basic information a local voice search user may be after.
  • Continue Working to Improve your Reputation. Because voice searches are increasingly qualitative (using words like good, bad, best, worst, and so on), your existing reputation will prove more important than ever in determining how your dealership performs in these results. It also means voice searches tie your SEO and online reputation closer together than ever before.
  • Maintaining a positive online reputation is not a one-and-done deal. Make it a regular practice to repurpose positive customer reviews as SEO-boosting content. Make sure the links to your site stay in good working order. Ensure that your dealership website itself is easy to navigate and emphasizes relevant, useful information for site visitors.
  • Another reminder: Always respond to reviews in a way that communicates genuine concern for the customer experience. Your digital reputation ultimately depends on how engaged with your customers you’re ready to be.

Optimizing for voice search means cultivating and maintaining a sterling online reputation. SEO and your reputation were already linked, but voice search blurs that line even further.

This presents a new challenge for dealers, but also a new opportunity: the opportunity to leverage your reputation to reach a new segment of your local customer base before the competition does.

1 Medium