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15/06/20 Ben Owst

Optimising Your PPC Strategy for Voice Search

Voice search is on the rise...

How many times have you heard this one-liner? I’ve heard this thrown like loose change at almost every conference I’ve visited over the past few years, but what are the implications of this ground-breaking statement?

To visualise the demand for voice search let’s take a look at search interest over the last 5 years.

Search Trends

This illustrates smart speaker interest worldwide, the monstrous spikes you see are unsurprisingly December, barring the spikes there is a consistent rate of growth and adoption for smart speakers. This you most likely already know, what I’m keen to delve into is how this is changing behaviours.

What does this mean?

How and what we ask and the way we ask it changes significantly when we vocalise it to typing it, why? Because it’s less effort to speak questions and queries than type them out. The result is much longer and more varied queries, you’ve now got even more diverse dialect and unique ways of asking questions. Every year, between 16-20% of all queries through Google are new queries, still! (Internet Live Stats) Unbelievable right.

As a PPC marketer then, how are we supposed to capture all these new searches? And how are we supposed to adapt to this new way of changing? The reality is we cannot hope to capture all these new queries, now more than ever this increases the dependency on your broad match queries. Now I am not advocating full broad match here, I’m not that crazy! Broad match modifier is my go-to, that extra layer of control with more flexibility than phrase match is a good blend.

Broad vs Exact

I like to segregate a broad and exact match ad group out for my keywords, you can then use your broad match as a discovery tool to detect all the long-tail queries that come from voice search (and written search) too. Next, dive into your search terms report within your broad match campaign and identify any winning search terms. Add these as keywords into your exact match ad-group and keep a hawk-like eye on any searches that are low performing and high-cost driven and add those as negative keywords.

I generally find that I set a lower CPC for my broad match campaigns than my exact match, the value of each click within your exact match is based on data-driven insights that give you the confidence to bid higher.

Always check the data

With any new campaigns, always ensure you have a large enough data set to make a well-informed decision, and if you’re in a considered conversion window make sure you give your campaign ample time to allow conversions to flow through, the last thing you want is to pause keywords that are actually working and you haven’t given them enough time to flourish. I leave most new campaigns at least 2-weeks before I start making any radical changes like this.

This nice conveyer belt system of transitioning keywords from one ad-group to the next can be a really effective way to ensure you’re capturing any potential voice search queries, do bear in mind that voice search lends itself perfectly to certain sectors and not to others.

For example, asking where the nearest coffee shop is; is a really useful voice-friendly search that lends itself to the technology, other queries like actually placing an order aren’t there yet. The technology is been tested, and even when it arrives the adoption for consumers could be very progressive. Research high-funnel queries lend themselves particularly well for voice control, remember to take this into account and always think about the intent behind the search, really put yourself in the shoes of your audience.

Ben Owst

Self-confessed PPC nerd with over 10-years of experiencing everything the digital marketing world has to offer.