Siri versus Alexa. Yelp versus Google My Business. Do all the connections matter much? We discuss.
Submit your questions at: https://www.massagebusinessblueprint.com/talk
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Michael Reynolds Hey, everyone. Welcome to the Massage Business Blueprint podcast, where we discuss the business side of massage therapy. I’m Michael Reynolds.
Allissa Haines And I’m Allissa Haines.
MR Welcome. We are your hosts and we have a Q&A episode today. Our Q&A episode today is from Meg in Virginia.
So thank you, Meg. We appreciate the question.
So this question today is on getting your massage business found through voice search. Things like, you know, Amazon Echos, Siri on iPhone, Google Home, things like that. So let’s play our, and then we’ll get to it.
Listener Question Hi, Allissa and Michael. This is Meg from Northern Virginia. My question is as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple HomePod become more popular, the use of voice assistants like Siri, Hey Google, and Alexa are becoming more prevalent too. So it seems like Amazon Echo and Alexa use Yelp when you ask, “find a massage therapist near me.” So this, to me, means that I now have to update my Yelp strategy.
Prior to this, my philosophy was I’m not engaging with Yelp because I don’t like their business practices. But it seems that that’s not feasible any longer as voice assistance becomes more the norm. Do you have any thoughts on what we need to do as business owners to ensure we’re proactively ready for this technology as more and more people start using it? Thanks so much and look forward to hearing your answer.
MR Thanks, Meg. Great question.
AH Meg has good questions.
MR She really does.
AH She really does.
MR Yeah, yeah.
MR Well, let’s do our sponsor and then let’s dig into it. So Allissa, I believe our sponsor today is Pure Pro.
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AH — when I pronounced eucalyptus right.
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MR It’s just too exciting.
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All right. Bring it. What is the answer to Meg’s question?
MR All right. Voice search. Well, this is a very, very good question because it’s still a little bit new territory for many people, and it’s still an evolving technology. So voice search is things like, kind of like we eluded to before the sponsor is Siri, you know, Siri on iPhone, Google assistant — Google Home, Amazon Echo. So those are all devices where you can speak your question, and they will, ideally, give you an answer.
Now, some are better than others. I’ve found that my Amazon Echo at home is not that great at answering questions. [Laughing] Siri on my iPhone is actually better at natural language recognition so it’ll — they’re all getting better, though. So anyway, more people are using these voice-activated devices to get answers to things. So Meg’s question, just to kind of recap, is hey, do I need to — what’s my strategy for getting found on voice search and, more specifically, you know, since Amazon Echo uses Yelp, do I need to worry about Yelp where, previously, I did not want to worry about Yelp. And we’ve had a lot of conversations in our premium group about Yelp and so forth. So anyway —
First of all, I’m really glad, Meg, you pointed out that your research showed that Amazon Echo, which is Alexa, uses Yelp. I was not aware that it specifically did use Yelp. I did some research to kind of confirm that, and I think you’re right. I did enough research to kind of point to the fact that, yes, Yelp is kind of the default local search resource for Amazon Echo, and I was not able to find anything that disputes that, so I could be wrong, but I think you are correct. I think we’re both kind of correct on that.
So with that, how do we approach this whole Google — or how this whole voice search strategy and then how do we, specifically, handle Yelp? So let me talk about it from a — just kind of a general overview kind of standpoint.
And Allissa, jump in if you have feedback, and I want to hear how you’re using as well, or if you’re even thinking about voice search. Are you thinking about voice search at all, or are you just kind of doing your thing and letting the services pick it up as —
AH Not even a little bit.
MR [Laughing] Just not even a little bit. [Laughing]
AH Not even a little bit.
MR Just a plain — yeah. Okay. So —
AH And I have a diatribe on this. Like, and I’m just going to inject it here, since you brought me in.
MR Go for it. Yeah.
AH Listen, there’s a lot of things we could do and a lot of things we could worry about in our business, and if you are in a stage where you are actively seeking lots and lots of new clients, then, yes, I think you could dedicate a couple hours to this — if you are time rich and cash poor.
But if you are getting a decent influx of new clients, if the things that you are doing already are working, then spend more time on them and stop stressing out about all the tiny little factors that you could worry about. So that’s what I think. If you’re time rich, you’re cash poor, you have a little time to dedicate to this, you want to follow Michael’s tips that are coming up, awesome. But if this is something that you’ve never thought about or you heard about it briefly but didn’t know if it mattered to you, the reality is it probably doesn’t matter to you if you have other avenues for new clients and you have good retention.
So you could worry about it. You don’t necessarily have to. That’s what I think, but I’ll be quiet while Michael gives tips.
MR No, that’s cool. I’m about to make you real happy because here’s the good news. All of the — the vast majority of the stuff that applies to voice search also applies to everything else, and so these are going to be fairly universal.
So a couple things to think about when you are thinking about voice search. So first, you want to make sure your website is well structured for mobile because a lot of this happens on Siri — on mobile devices. So that’s kind of a default thing that is universal anyway. Your website should be mobile optimized. That means if you look at it on a phone, it should kind of adapt and things should be large enough and easy to get around on and kind of squeeze it down the right way to fit on a phone. So that, by default, should be something you’re doing anyway, and if you do that, that will improve the mobile experience for people on, you know, phone voice searches.
There’s also something else that you’re not going to really mess with directly right now, personally. It’s called structured data. So really what I want you to do, Meg — specifically, I’m talking to you, Meg. Go to your web developer and ask that web developer about structured data or whoever manages or handles your website wherever it is. Whoever is kind of handling the tech side of that — or you can research it yourself as well, but usually the tech side of it is going to be handled by a partner. Ask about adding structured data to your website. These are special kind of tags in your website that really give search engines and search devices the right information about the location of your website. And it’s kind of in a specific tagged format in the code of the site. So again, structured data is what you want to ask about.
The next thing is you really want to make sure your website is — not just your website — your business is accessible on things like Google My Business. So again, this is something universal that you should be doing anyway if you want to get found on search engines. So we’ve had a lot of information about Google My Business in the past. We’ve had some experts on. So with Google My Business, you want to make sure that your website is in there, your location, your hours of operation, information about your massage practice. You want to make sure that you have, you know, you’re asking for reviews on there. People are actually putting reviews on there to kind of show interaction, and you’re putting posts on there as well to show that you’re providing educational information and information about your practice. So Meg, knowing you, I’m pretty sure you’re doing this.
But to everyone else listening as well, that’s going to go a long way to getting you found on voice searches as well because when people, you know, do a search by typing in stuff — Google My Business plays a big part — it’s the same with voice search. You know, voice search services are going to use things like Google My Business. So that’s something else you can do.
Something else you want to do, that you’re probably already doing and kind of is universal, is use natural language in your content, and especially in things like articles. So you know, Allissa and I have talked a lot about publishing content on your website that teaches your audience. So these are blog posts and articles about certain topics. So articles that are sort of, like, promotional like hey, here’s all about my massage practice. Those aren’t what we’re talking about. We’re talking about things like, hey, what to expect at a massage session or what does this mean or what particular, you know, what treatments does this particular treatment apply to in relieving certain ailments? All sorts of information about the experience you can provide to your clients and the questions they would have about the experience.
So those are the types of things that you want to write about, and if you write the headlines, especially, in natural language the way people actually speak, that’s the way people actually speak when they’re asking a question on voice search. So the more you can make it in natural language in your writing, the more it’s going to apply directly to how people naturally speak when they’re asking a question.
So something else, about 23 — I think 23, 24% of voice searches are about local search. So what this means is, when people are asking for information about local things, they’re going to use language that is common to that location. So one good example is, you know, if people are searching for a great restaurant in Indianapolis, where I live, you know, a lot of times they won’t say Indianapolis, they’ll just say Indy. Because people who live here say Indy, I–N-D-Y. So when you’re writing and you’re providing information on your website and other content you’re posting online, I would encourage people in my area to sprinkle in the term Indy. You know, the best whatever in Indy, or whatever.
So that’s a way to kind of make sure that you’re aligning your content with the way people actually speak and the way they refer to your location and other things in your location as well. Maybe there’s neighborhoods and, you know, specific geographic communities in your neighborhood that people refer to. You know, use those in your content because that’s going align with the way people ask things. So that is going to help as well.
Again, the good news is that all the stuff you’re probably doing to get found on search engines is going to apply to voice search as well, especially things like Google My Business. So that’s great news. You don’t have to worry about it that much.
Here’s the thing, though, with Yelp. I don’t have an awesome, like, definitive answer for you, Meg, on Yelp but I’ll give you my opinion. [Laughing] So you’re welcome to take my opinion if you want. It’s kind of aligned with Allissa’s opinion a little bit in that there’s a trade-off to be made. So unless there’s information that is more current or that changes or that we don’t know about it, let’s assume that Amazon Echo does use Yelp.
So you’ve got a choice to make. Do you want to actually engage with Yelp and go with all the negative stuff that goes with that — the stuff you’ve experienced? I won’t get into that right now because we’ve done that in the past and we probably will again. But anyway, so if you don’t want to engage with Yelp, do you want to change your stance on that? Do you want to bite the bullet, suck it up, and get your presence on Yelp and maybe even pay them for listings and whatever they do with Yelp? I don’t use Yelp, so [laughing] I don’t know. But I think they have all sorts of plans and programs. And do you want to do that simply for the option of getting found, potentially, on Amazon Echo?
If it were me, I would not. I would simply not do it because a) I’m with you on not wanting to engage with Yelp, and 2) I’m not convinced that the Amazon Echo question search factor is enough to sway me in that direction. I’m not sure it’s significant enough. When most people are searching for a massage therapist, I would bet they are going to want to, you know, use a phone number or a booking online link to schedule an appointment, and that is not super easy to do on Amazon Echo. They’re probably not just going to want a voice telling them, hey, here’s a massage therapist on Fifth Avenue. Like, that’s not as useful as picking up the phone and, you know, speaking to Siri or to actually typing in their maps or whatever or their search engine and saying, hey, massage therapist in Indy or whatever. That’s going to be more useful because they know that the next step is going to be to click to call or to click to book online.
So instinctively, the way people are using Amazon Echo, I’m not convinced that it’s going to be significant enough to worry about. So if you want my opinion, I would not worry about Yelp and Amazon Echo. I would do all the other stuff we talked about, and that’s kind of my stance on that.
So I’m curious to hear what Allissa would do.
AH I would do nothing. [Laughing]
MR [Laughing] Allissa’s your permission to be lazy. [Laughing]
AH No, it’s just — I just, again, like, I really — I am — unless your entire recruitment strategy is digital, which it shouldn’t be in a local massage business, this is — these are not the things you should lose any sleep over or spend too much time on. If you have a solid website, if you regularly add new decent information to that website, it’s — in very small micro-businesses like ours, like, yes, you want a good online presence. You want it to be solid. Especially nowadays, you want a really good Google My Business profile listing.
But the website shouldn’t be all of your recruitment strategy in a small, hyper-local, hands-on service business like ours. You’ve got to be meeting people in one way or another in the real world, whether it be your clients — turning them into referral engines for you — or other small business owners or other types of practitioners or networking groups or events. Like, I think that it’s just too easy to get caught up in all of the little bits of digital life.
MR Yeah, it could drive you crazy.
AH It could drive you crazy. And, like, I mean I know Meg is actually doing all of this out in the world stuff, too, which is why I feel a little cozier saying, you know, you don’t need to worry about this. You just don’t.
And also, if you don’t want to, then don’t. Like, if you don’t like Yelp, don’t fricking deal with Yelp. Like, you can’t control if your business listing is on there or not. You can claim your listing, you can make it accurate, you can ignore all the phone calls and emails from Yelp that want you to advertise with them because they’re terrible. But don’t — you don’t need to sell your soul to advertise your business, not in this respect. So don’t worry about it.
And also, not for nothing, but I know lots of families and homes are using all these devices and lots of people use Siri on their phone, but also a lot of people don’t. They just don’t. Like, I don’t use Siri. I have my — I have everything locked down in my phone so it’s never listening to me as far as I can tell.
AH And I don’t want listening devices in my home. And it’s not because I’m a big conspiracy theorist, it’s just because that’s just more technology than I need in my life. And I know that there are many other people like me [laughing] who also don’t have this. I might even say the majority of homes in the United States do not have these things set up in them or they’re not using all of the voice -activated stuff in their phone. So I don’t know if that’s true or not but, you know, if your audience is super highly techy and you feel really cozy that all of these people are, like —
Also, I mean if you have some competitor — you’re highly niched, Meg. If there’s some competitor in your area that is seeing the same niche that you are and they’re, like, super crazy busy all the time and you’re straggling to get four clients a week, then there’s a problem. But I don’t think that’s the case. So this is not a thing you need to spend time worrying about. I’m done.
MR Yeah. No, I’m with you. I’m the same way. I don’t use voice search because — so I have a really strong technology background so you’d think I would be, like, all about this. But it’s actually not as accurate as it could be. So I actually — my wife uses voice search all the time. She’ll pick up Siri and ask a question and it will not get it right, and then I’ll just look, you know, pull up my iPhone and go to maps and find it, like, right away and she gets frustrated.
But it’s, like, because voice search isn’t quite mature enough to really give you what you want all the time yet. So I just go straight to, you know, the maps or Google and find what I need because that gives me a better path. So anyway.
Cool. Thanks, Meg.
AH Thanks, Meg.
MR Awesome question. I appreciate the opportunity to talk tech a little bit. You know I like that.
All right. Well, thanks everyone. Thanks, Meg. And thanks, everyone, for listening.
Reminder — you can bring your question to the podcast. We’ll feature you on the podcast. We’ll play it on the air for everyone to hear. And your awesome voice will help us kind of talk through whatever issues you’re having, and you can do that at massagebusinessblueprint.com/talk. Again, to record your question and send it our way, go to massagebusinessblueprint.com/talk, and you can do that from your computer or your phone. It works fine either way. You just have to allow microphone access, and we’d love to get your question and play it and talk about it.
So thanks, everyone. We appreciate you joining us. We’ll see you next time.