Three days after the October 2011 launch of the iPhone 4S, Apple announced that customers had snatched up more than 4 million units. Those smartphones introduced millions to Siri, a function that provides answers and recommendations based on users' verbal requests. In the months since, the question many small businesses have been asking is, "How can I make sure Siri picks me as the answer?" While Apple has been largely mum on the subject, experts who have studied Siri's preferences have some suggestions.
Get Local Listings
A listing on Google Places simply won't cut it. "We don't know all of Apple's partners in the local listings process, but we do know that their core listing data comes from Localeze.com," says Mike Blumenthal, author of the blog Understanding Google Maps and Local Search. Apple appears to overlay the core data with review data from sites like Yelp and Yahoo, he says, so it's important to enhance your listings on a variety of local directories, in addition to Google.
While claiming those local listings, develop consistent formats for addresses and company descriptions, advises Sam Sudano, an account executive with Lovell Communications, a Nashville, Tenn.-based PR firm that works with clients to appear on Siri's radar. "Syncing this information between sites, right down to whether you abbreviate the street address, makes a difference," he says.
The number and content of reviews on sites like Yelp and Yahoo matter to Siri. "It uses a ranking system that's heavily biased toward review-count totals," Blumenthal says. "If you're looking for a steakhouse, Siri ranks results based on total reviews, but also looks at the reviews to find restaurants that specialize in steak."
Track Beyond Google
Blumenthal and Sudano agree that it's not enough to focus on Google for online marketing. According to Blumenthal, in the race to keep up with search engine optimization changes, it's imperative to pay attention to your rankings on Yahoo and Bing to have the best shot at surfacing in Siri's results. Sudano points out that good local-search practices--for example, naming an image "Nashville, Tennessee, coffee shop" instead of just "coffee shop"--can also boost your Siri visibility.