Voice search is a growing trend that digital marketers must account for with their online strategies. Studies have shown that one-third of the population now uses voice search on a regular basis. It’s estimated that nearly 20 million people do so specifically for healthcare. Given the ease of voice search, it’s likely those numbers will only increase in the years to come.
Given all that, how should you, as the marketing point of contact at a medical facility, respond?
Know your market
The first thing to focus on is understanding the context in which your patients seek you out.
If you provide emergency room services, then you need to focus on voice search. A mother sees her child break their ankle at a holiday picnic. Her first response will be to “ask Siri” where the nearest emergency room is.
But let’s say you’re an oncology clinic. Your service is life-saving, but it’s also much more likely the patient and their family will perform a more detailed search before settling on their care provider. You’ll still need to focus on voice search eventually.
In short, you need to understand the state of mind people are likely to be in when they’re searching for you and how rushed they will be. The more rushed and panicked, the more likely they are to be using a voice assistant.
Keep up on security issues
The most popular voice assistants—most notably Amazon Alexa—are not yet HIPAA compliant. For providing direct medical services (as opposed to simply ranking in the search results), voice assistants are still seen as unreliable when it comes to protecting patient information.
There are also issues with accuracy. As good and intuitive as some of these voice tools are, if a query involves the long name of a prescription drug, it’s not hard to imagine some inaccurate results coming back. Studies have also shown that one-third of people have gotten bad information from voice search.
The problems of HIPPA, security and accuracy will have to be sorted out before voice assistants can really take off in healthcare. In the meantime, it’s important to be on top of developments in this area as they progress.
Execute local SEO basics
In the meantime, just return to bread-and-butter local SEO basics. Make sure your local directories are optimized with correct information, keyword-rich descriptions and good photos. Test your site speed on a periodic basis and make the changes that Google’s standardized speed test recommends.
In the end, voice search is simply another method of local SEO and those that get a head start by doing these basics are more likely to win on this newest front in the digital space.