Popular digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have taught us that voice technology is dramatically changing the way consumers search for information online. And that holds especially true for Google Voice Search. Instead of wasting hours scrolling on Google’s search pages, voice-activated search enables us to find exactly what we are looking for simply by saying the word.
It’s a trend that is experiencing a rapid upward trajectory. The Wall Street Journal reports that 51 percent of consumers use voice search in their cars, and 39 percent use voice assistants in their homes. These statistics are increasing as consumers become familiar and comfortable with voice search technology for their day-to-day activities.
As Google Voice Search and other voice search capabilities rise in popularity, they’re also becoming important vehicles for businesses that want to improve their pay-per-click performance and reach new consumers. It's now vital for marketers and businesses to optimize their PPC ad campaigns for these types of search engine queries.
This article discusses why it’s important to consider Google Voice Search when developing your pay-per-click ad strategy. It also provides actionable tips for optimizing your PPC ads for Google Voice Search queries.
It’s no secret that digital assistants and voice search technology make our lives easier by enabling more convenient online searches. Users need to simply ask their device a question and they get an answer just a few moments later. People to interact with their devices in a way that’s more natural and less constrained. They use familiar language and a conversational tone to access the information they need.
As such, voice search has become a popular feature for Google search engine users. Google’s CEO reports that 20 percent of the queries on its mobile app and across Android devices are voice searches. Those numbers are continuing to grow, attributed largely to accessibility. People can use Google Voice Search on both their mobile and desktop devices. After the user articulates their search query, they go to the search engine results page. From there, they can click on different links to get the information they need. When considering how voice searches impact your PPC campaigns, it’s important to recognize that though voice queries often return similar results to typed queries, there are a few important differences:
All of these voice search variables can impact your search engine marketing strategy. For example, depending on your target audience, you may aim to reach more mobile users. The more mobile your audience, the more important Google Voice Search is when considering PPC ads and target keywords.
It’s important to note that while there are a range of different voice search technologies, from Amazon’s Alexa to Apple’s Siri, the focus of this particular post is on Google. The reason? If you’re using Google AdWords, then Google Voice Search has the greatest impact on your PPC ad campaigns. That said, you can also apply this information to ads on other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.
Now that you know how Google Voice Search may impact your PPC ad strategy, you’ll need to learn how to optimize your PPC ads for voice search queries. The good news is that if you are currently using SEO and PPC best practices to optimize your campaigns, you may not have too much work to do.
Here are a few tips that will help you get started optimizing your PPC ads for Google Voice Search:
1. Start by taking a look at your existing search term data
Before you begin optimizing your ad campaigns for voice search, it’s important that you look at the data you have on which search terms consumers use to find your brand online. Take a look at your search term report on AdWords to identify which long-tail queries trigger your PPC ad campaigns. Google doesn’t provide a separate report for voice search queries. However, there are ways to find out which queries might come from consumers utilizing voice search.
Once you export the report, filter the data to return search terms beginning with “OK Google.” This allows you to see some of the exact terms leveraged by search engine users when they look for brands like yours through Google Voice Search.
In addition to searching for the phrase, “OK Google,” look for long-tail keywords that are at least five or six words. Because voice search users tend to have more conversational search queries, consumers use longer keyword phrases to find your brand online via voice search. After developing a list of keywords and phrases from your existing search term data, add them to your AdWords campaigns.
2. Launch dedicated question ad campaigns on Google AdWords
As previously mentioned, Google Voice Search queries are typically more conversational than typed queries. This is most likely because consumers who type queries into the search bar recognize that they are interacting with a machine and deliberately use shorter, logical phrasing.
Voice search users, however, tend to use more filler words and conversational questions, as they would when talking to a person. Also, due to the conversational nature of voice search queries, these consumers are more likely to ask a question. For your business, that means you need to develop dedicated question ad campaigns and bid on question-based keywords to drive intent.
Meanwhile, the type of question a search engine user asks can reveal a lot about their degree of intent. For instance, “what,” “who,” and “why” based questions indicate interest, but not necessarily a desire to take action. Questions that begin with “when” and “where” tend to indicate that a user may be more ready to buy.
Going forward, you can consider these nuances when developing a list of target question-based keywords for your campaigns. If you’re trying to reach consumers who are ready to buy, you use different types of question-based keywords than if you are trying to attract consumers who are in the awareness or consideration phases of the buyer’s journey. Target the question-based keywords that make the most sense based on your unique conversion goals.
3. Consider including the top three question keywords in your PPC campaigns
While most voice search users are utilizing long-tail keywords in their queries, it’s important to remember that long-tail search queries often have low traffic volume. Your business should include the top three question keywords or keyword phrases in your sets to capture more voice queries in your ad campaigns.
Use Google AdWords keyword planner to investigate the volume and competition levels for the your target keyword phrases. In addition to lower volume, less competitive keywords, you may want to use question-based keywords that have a higher search volume. This will help ensure that you are expanding your reach on the search engines for voice search users.
Although you want to reach as many voice search users as possible, remember not to let the low traffic volume keep you from using less popular, question-based keywords that are relevant to your PPC ad campaigns. Long-tail question-based keywords are more specific, which helps you increase relevancy in your campaigns. While you might not reach many users, the users that you reach are likely the right fit for your brand.
4. Add negative terms that don’t apply to your product/service
As with typical PPC ad campaigns for typed queries, you need to generate a negative keyword list for Google Voice Search queries. In your search term report, you’ll probably notice queries that are relevant, but not ideal, for your brand. These queries are often terms that don’t apply to your products or services. Therefore, these are terms you don’t want your PPC ads appearing next to in the search engine results. By including these negative keywords, you’ll be able to avoid attracting unqualified traffic.
In addition, you may also want to include keywords that suggest the wrong intent. For instance, to target consumers in the decision phase, use negative keywords to avoid attracting consumers that are starting the buyer’s journey. Because many of these search queries are questions, you also need to include negative question terms in your negative keyword list to avoid attracting consumers who are not the right fit.
In addition to generating a new negative keyword list, you should also revisit existing ones for your legacy PPC ad campaigns. To optimize these lists for voice search, consider removing negative keywords like “near me,” “where do I,” and “how to”. This will help you capture more voice search traffic from users who are phrasing their query as a question.
5. Enable AdWords location extensions
Google AdWords location extensions, which allow your business to display address, phone number, and directions to your physical location next to your PPC ads, is an effective way to make sure that your ads display for mobile searchers who are on the go and ready to buy.
Ultimately, this feature allows your business to show up more often in the “near me” searches. “Near me” searches are critical for reaching local shoppers who are near your location and ready to make a purchase. Given that many mobile searchers are using Google Voice Search, especially when in the car, using this extension can also help you attract more users. Using Google location extensions is especially important for businesses that have multiple locations; it allows users to see where the locations are on the map and choose the store that is most convenient.
6. Customize ad copy to answer search query questions
No matter what type of target audience you address with your PPC ad campaigns, it’s vital to create customized ad copy that is relevant to the search query. Your ad content should provide some context based on the targeted search terms. It should also entice users to click on your link and take the next step toward conversion.
When it comes to Google Voice Search and PPC, consider answering the question-based query in your ad content. For instance, let's say you are targeting the question-based phrase “where can I buy camera equipment near me?”. You should ensure that the ad content clearly answers this question while inviting the user to click to learn more. Naturally, the more relevant and engaging your ad copy, the more likely search engine users will click on your ad.
7. Create relevant and contextual landing pages
If you are serious about your PPC campaigns, you should already be creating relevant and contextual landing pages for ad traffic. Many beginners make the mistake of driving PPC ad traffic back to their home page. However, this doesn’t create an effective gateway to the next step in conversion, as it frequently offers too many options for the consumer. That, in turn, can cause them to navigate away from the page before taking any desired action.
Instead, create PPC landing pages that are optimized for conversion. That is, specific and contextual landing pages guide users to the next step in the buyer’s journey. Among other things, ensure that your landing pages are optimized in the same way your ad copy is. If your ad addresses a question-based keyword, you should discuss the answer to this question in your landing page copy. Similarly, ensure that the offer you are delivering through the landing page relates to the PPC ad content.
Also, because many Google Voice Search users are using mobile devices, ensure that your landing pages are optimized for mobile. That means keeping graphics to a minimum and keeping any copy on the page clear and concise.
8. Claim and update your Google My Business Listing
Since many voice search users are looking for local businesses, it is important that you claim your Google My Business listing and update the information. This helps increase your chances of showing up in Google Voice Search results pertaining to your location and business category.
Claiming and keeping your listing up-to-date helps your PPC ad campaigns and benefits your organic search results. The search engine scans your Google My Business listing to better understand your business category, location, and hours. This information allows Google to deliver more relevant content for local search engine users.
Google Voice Search is a powerful trend that will continue to impact your PPC advertising strategy. As you begin to optimize your PPC campaigns for this tool, keep the following in mind:
When it comes to Google Voice Search and PPC ads, don’t be afraid to experiment. Once you find a strategy that reaches more voice search users, you can adjust your PPC ad strategy based on your results. It might take some trial and error. However, accommodating a fast-growing technology gives you access to new, diverse groups of consumers that will only open new doors -- and revenue opportunities -- for your campaigns.