If you haven’t already, your company needs to start adjusting your current PPC (Pay-Per-Click) advertising strategies to accommodate the expansion of this technology.
We’re not just talking about voice searches issued through your cell phone. People now issue voice commands through devices and smart speakers such as Alexa and Google Home as they go about their daily lives.
Anyone relying on PPC ads must be aware of the resulting changes in online search results users will receive going forward. There’s no going back, so it’s best to be prepared for the changes coming to PPC by voice search.
Still not convinced?
Consider this data:
In 2023 an estimated 41% of U.S. adults will use voice search everyday.
Now let’s get to work on understanding and implementing your Voice Search PPC Strategy!
How Does Voice Search Work?
Voice search allows users to make searches using just, well, their voice. It works by utilizing voice recognition technology to convert spoken words into text.
From there, the voice search device responds to the voice input in a few different ways.
Sometimes, the device may provide a direct spoken response, delivering the information the user requested audibly.
In other cases, the device will display a list of search results on a screen, similar to traditional text-based searches.
The type of response the user receives will ultimately depend on the device they’re using to make the voice search and the the scope of the search.
The Google Voice Search feature of a Google Home, for example, will typically provide a direct spoken response to voice searches.
How Voice Search Is Affecting Paid Search Marketing
How does voice search change your PPC marketing strategy? There’s 4 major impacts to consider:
1. Changing SERP Responses
Search engines are constantly making updates to their platforms and algorithms to meet the ever-changing demands of their consumers. A great example is Google’s predictive search feature, which anticipates and suggests search queries based on the user’s input.
The introduction of the technology was like magic. You typed in words and Google did its best to feed you immediate results as you were still keying in your query. It was a harbinger of our current AI reality.
Typing in “Coke” brought you everything from “Coke Zero” to Coker College as it tried to cover the range of every possibility to meet your needs.
Results narrowed and became more refined once you entered more letters to fit a specific product or service.
It was the advertiser’s holy grail. If you could accurately predict what users would enter when searching for a product similar to yours, you could create PPC ads with keywords matching those patterns. Google’s algorithms helped drive these ads to the top of search results.
The Use of SERPs
The earliest version of a Google SERP (Search Engine Optimization Page) came back in 1998 with the release of Google Beta. Back then the 10 big blue links were what you recognized.
As the years evolved, the SERPS grew richer in content and more valuable. Advertisers started using Google AdWords and other PPC ad services to create keyword-rich ads to shoot to the top of any SERP.
SERPs adapted themselves to the needs of specific users based on their individual search habits. Two people entering the same keyword could come back with vastly different results.
Essential SERP Features
Today’s SERPs provide users with much richer details than the early oughts versions. Most SERPs contain a mix of the following content types:
- Paid Results – Ads appearing at the top of SERPs
- Featured Snippet – A summarization of a response to a user’s query with an accompanying link
- Direct Answers – A response designed to fully answer voice search queries without an additional link
- Local SERPs – Responses to queries corresponding to the user’s location.
Voice SERP Results
Users issuing voice searches already have a product or service in mind and expect corresponding voice search results. They could need directions, the start time for movies at a specific theater or the number to their doctor’s office.
At this point, they want their needs met immediately. There’s no desire to spend a lot of time doing more research.
As a result, ads need to be focused on specific questions – who, what, where, when, why, and how. Voice commands tend to be around six to seven words or longer.
Your website copy should accurately correspond to these queries. Doing so attracts more traffic to targeted landing pages by putting your ads in front of the most responsive audience.
It’s equally important to keep your ads out of the view of users who aren’t asking for them. Invest some time into building up a proper negative keyword list in an effort to decrease the chances of your ad appearing for an unrelated voice search.
Keep up with the changing nature of SERPs by following articles from expert influencers. They can provide keen insights into the changing nature of digital advertising.
2. Interpreting User Intent
In previous years, ads were designed to match staccato phrases typed into a search box.
Marketers could write their PPC and Google ads to include those designated keywords and ensure their results got to the top of SERPs whenever those search terms were used.
The query format has evolved with the increased use of mobile devices enabled with voice search technologies.
Users asked longer, more detailed questions in a natural-sounding way instead of a short, targeted string of words.
Local businesses need to adapt their advertising efforts around these types of queries. Many companies go wrong when they fail to properly anticipate the intent behind a user’s question.
Natural Language Processing
The conversational nature of voice searches means companies need to adapt their advertising efforts to accommodate those types of questions.
The AI used by most voice search technology uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) to interpret and learn from information given to it by users.
To reiterate, it’s about responding to the question in a way that gives the user what they want.
A user asking “who starred in Fellowship of the Ring” wants responses about the actors in the film, not a site where they can purchase a copy of the book.
Someone asking about a local shop that sells roses wants results for florists in their area they can contact. It’s important to consider the local intent of the searcher.
It’s useless to provide them with the name of a florist all the way across the country.
3. Employing the Right Strategies
It’s important to approach PPC advertising with a clear plan designed to maximize the benefits you receive from it.
Gain a solid understanding of SERPs and how a voice search changes the type of responses you receive.
Use these tips to refine your marketing strategies for both voice and text queries:
- Look for Intent: Think beyond your typical interpretation of user intent. Take a deep look at how users would phrase questions in real life. This widens your net and helps account for important subtleties to help you respond more precisely to queries.
- Create Long-Tailed Keywords: Update your keyword lists to take longer phrases into account can be a part of the questions asked by users. Perform keyword research to find high-traffic, low-competition keywords and keyword phrases you can compete for.
- Account for Mobile Devices: Design your content to present itself optimally on smaller devices.
Designing responsive ads is critical. It’s also important not to neglect the content on your landing pages.
Your copy should be informative and engaging. This encourages users to stay on your site, increasing the chances of converting the click into a positive site interaction.
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
Some of the most important knowledge you can provide your company is being aware of what competitors are doing to gain an online edge.
Partner with a company like Valve+Meter Performance Marketing to help you with your competitor analysis and strategy.
Borrowing their marketing knowledge creates strong benefits immediately and in the long term.
More Keyword Tips
Validate the keywords you’ve chosen with something like Google’s Keyword Planner Tool. You want high-traffic phrases not yet co-opted by a lot of sites.
To get the most value for your money, this is where you should increase your bids. This can help you capture more voice search traffic at a lower overall cost.
Keep track of which keyword phrases tend to lead to an actual conversion and which ones tend to get bypassed.
Again, you want to get your money’s worth from any PPC program. Decrease or eliminate your bids on any negative keywords. It can be overwhelming and you may not have the luxury of closely monitoring and deep-diving into the analytics.
A partner versed in PPC marketing management like Valve+Meter Performance Marketing is a smart investment.
Don’t Neglect Organic Results
PPC ads are an important tool in attracting visitors and they’re best used in conjunction with quality content pages.
It’s pointless to design great ads if the landing page is lacking.
You need solid SEO skills, also known as Search Engine Optimization, to design pages to attract traffic from both voice and text searches.
Additional factors to identify how well-received your landing pages are, include:
- Mobile adaptability
- Site responsiveness
- The ability of search bots to find relevant info on your page
- Organic backlinks
- The originality of your content
- Whether people want to remain on your page for more than a few minutes
4. Accounting for AI Devices
From Siri and Alexa to the Google Assistant, it’s important to account for the different types of AI devices when you optimize your PPC strategies for voice search.
The Evolution of Alexa
Amazon’s Alexa started out as a smart speaker for people to use in their homes and evolved into more of a home butler.
People could call out items they wanted to purchase from Amazon and have them delivered to their door. People didn’t even need to reach for a separate internet device to place orders. It filled a need by offering Amazon customers additional convenience.
As the AI inside Alexa learned, the speaker advanced into a device capable of controlling any Wi-Fi-enabled device in your home, such as thermostats, televisions, security cameras or light fixtures.
You were no longer limited to just placing orders. You could also issue voice searches to find your favorite music or pull up and play a video you had purchased.
Incorporating PPC Into AI Devices
As other providers like Google and Cortana entered the market, people relied on them more and more for everyday use. This growth has resulted in more companies starting to do research on how to use a voice search command to drive PPC marketing.
AI Limitations for PPC
The difficulty comes with the sheer number of ways users can issue voice search commands.
It’s not possible to create some sort of rule to handle every instance of the ways users might issue a vocal request.
Because people could come up with a new voice search every day for a particular product or service, there would be no immediate history of how well the command worked for driving traffic.
Without this history, how could you set rates for keywords based on the specific voice search?
Development teams are creating new algorithms designed to better interpret intent and refine the process of designing PPC rules based on AI data.
The Future of Voice Search
As technology continues to advance and more devices utilize voice search, the added convenience and efficiency of the technology are expected to cause voice search to skyrocket.
A few years ago, it might have been optional to have a voice search strategy in place. However, due to the ever growing popularity of voice search, optimizing your PPC and SEO strategies around the technology can help you stay ahead of the curve and at the top of SERPs.
By understanding the unique nuances and patterns of voice search queries, businesses can tailor their content and advertising to match the conversational tone and long-tail keywords often used in voice searches.
Embracing voice search as an essential aspect of a digital marketing strategy will enable businesses to reach a wider audience and ensure their visibility in the increasingly voice-driven landscape of the future.