In today’s hyper-connected world, consumers are looking to save time. And often, it’s less time consuming (and more convenient) to talk than type. Whether it’s someone talking into their phone on the subway, performing a voice search using their smartwatch (secret agent alert), talking to a smart speaker or TV in their home, or performing a search through their car audio, the world around us continues to be more and more geared toward voice-based search.

With the volume of voice-initiated searches increasing every year, there is a massive opportunity that exists to adjust paid advertising strategies related to search engine marketing efforts. While it may have been considered optional to not have a voice search strategy 5 years ago, that is no longer the case in today’s digital landscape.

According to Google, more than 27% of the global online population is using voice search on mobile. On top of that, active users of the Google Assistant grew 4X over the past year.

To start testing an elementary voice search strategy for your SEM campaigns, follow the steps we have outlined below.

Go Keyword Hunting In The Search Terms Report

If you’ve already been running ad campaigns on major search networks, then you already have a wealth of data that can be utilized within your current ad account. For example, Google Ads provides advertisers with the ability to view search terms that users are typing into Google and triggering an ad, even when the advertiser isn’t targeting a specific search query. This is called the search terms (or search query) report.

keyword hunting

When reviewing the search query report, search for any queries including the phrase ‘ok google’ or ‘hey google’. Many times, this portion of the users voice command is captured in the search query information retained by Google.

You can also use the search query report to identify valuable long-tailed voice searches. Users search Google differently depending on the device and method being used to perform the search. Oftentimes, a search performed using natural language will be a longer query vs someone typing a search. For example:

Typed Search: Plumber near me
Voice Search: Ok Google, find a highly rated plumber in San Francisco

Many of these searches come in a question form when being performed via voice versus typing them out. ‘How can I do something?’, ‘Who can help me?’, ‘What options are available?’, ‘Where can I buy what I want?’ are all questions that searchers are looking to find an answer/solution for.

Once you find these queries, try creating ad groups to bid on the top-volume voice searches. Or, if there isn’t enough volume to break these out as keywords, consider tweaking ad copy and landing pages for the existing ad groups that are generating a large amount of voice searches (more on this below).

Target High Intent Phrases Such As ‘Near Me’, ‘Local’, ‘Nearby’

There are certain phrases (queries) that signify that the searcher may have performed a voice search. Many of these phrases are included in search queries with local intent, meaning that the searcher is looking for a service or product near to their location that is open during the time they are performing the search.

Targeting query modifiers such as ‘near me’, ‘open now’, ‘local’, or ‘find me’ can be good ways to test keyword targeting for voice search users when advertising for location-specific businesses and services. Make sure you have the relevant local intent keywords covered in your account, and use the search query report to inform potential new local keywords to create.

Anticipate Questions and Provide Answers For The Searcher

When targeting voice searchers, you should answer their questions in the ad copy, extensions, and on the landing page. A searcher is looking to have a need filled, so fill it for them. Ensure that your ad copy speaks to the natural way that the initial search was performed. Use the insight gained from reviewing the search terms report to inform what answers you provide to the searchers needs.

relevant search ad

You should also review the landing page copy that you’re utilizing. In today’s hyper-targeted landscape, does the messaging speak to the needs of the visitor being directed to that landing page? Not only does the searcher want to find an answer for their question but search engines reward advertisers for having consistent messaging that aligns with the searchers original intent. Having more relevant landing pages can greatly help your conversion rate as well as quality scores!

Voice Search In 2020 & Beyond

Creating a succinct strategy around voice search can be a daunting endeavor when just getting started. Keeping the following items in mind when first embarking on this journey will be helpful:

  • Scour the search terms report for opportunities
  • Identify long-tail keywords that show high intent
  • Cover your bases by targeting ‘near me’, ‘local’, ‘open now’ searches for local campaigns for products/services
  • Answer the searchers question using natural language in your ad copy and landing pages

Voice-activated searches on mobile devices and in-home speakers are here to stay. Each day, more and more users are using voice search technology in order to search for what they need on the web. Whether you’re a local retailer or a national brand, you can’t afford to ignore the voice search trend anymore. Digital marketers that identify ways to make voice search work for their SEM and SEO efforts can gain a large competitive advantage over their competition.