The Impact of Voice Search on PPC—and How You can Keep Up

Soon the days of sifting through Google search results will be a thing of the past. A simple, “Alexa, where’s the nearest coffee shop?” is all we’ll need to find information.

Not everyone is adopting voice search right now, but it’s clear that this technology is changing the behavior of millions of users. By 2020, it’s estimated that 50% of all searches will be done with voice assistants. 55% of all U.S. households will have a voice assistant in their homes by this time, too.

Whether we like it or not, voice search is changing the way people find information online. Because of this, humans are deepening our relationship with technology. A voice assistant is much more personal to us than a smartphone. They’re so integrated into our routine that we treat them like a friendly, human assistant.

We use different language when speaking to our voice assistants versus typing a query on our smartphones. And that’s why voice search matters for pay-per-click (PPC) marketing.

Voice search has big implications for your keyword strategy, especially if you or your client is a local business. If you depend on foot traffic, you need to get your voice search PPC strategy in gear.

How Voice Search Affects PPC

Voice search has a lot of implications for organic SEO, but it’s important for PPC, too.

We’re facing a future where many people bypass the search engine results page, relying on a robot assistant to fulfill their needs instead. Where does that leave PPC campaigns?

Voice search affects PPC in three major ways.

1. Mobile-first
Whether you call upon Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa, or Cortana, it’s likely that you have a voice assistant integrated on your smartphone or laptop already.

Although voice search is available on many devices, it’s mostly used on mobile devices.

People use voice search on their mobile phones primarily to get directions. That’s why PPC campaigns have to be more location-specific to appeal to voice search users. For example, keywords including the phrase “near me” perform better with voice search.

2. Natural language
As humans, we treat voice assistants as more human than, say, a search box on Google. We build a personal relationship with our voice assistant whether we realize it or not.

Due to the conversational nature of voice search, we talk to voice assistants in a colloquial, informal way.

We use natural language to talk to voice assistants, which means our queries are longer.

For example, your users have probably started using Google Assistant to do a search for them. Instead of typing “Phoenix weather” to check the forecast, they’re saying, “Okay Google, how is the weather today?”

There are huge differences between those two phrases. It has everything to do with the way humans speak naturally to each other and not to machines. PPC campaigns have to appeal to natural language searches in lieu of the text searches we’re accustomed to as marketers.

3. Question-oriented
Most voice searches are questions that are more than five words long. The majority of question-oriented keywords start with “what,” “where,” “when,” and “how.”

It’s less likely that users will search for fragmented keywords with voice search. PPC campaigns now have to target long-tail keyword phrases that are often posed as a question or complete sentence.

A sign post with question words written on them

Optimizing PPC Campaigns for Voice Search

These three shifts have caused big changes in PPC, but you can use them to your benefit. The good news is that you should still follow SEO and PPC best practices to get the most out of voice search.

These suggestions will help you optimize for voice search in addition to your other PPC and SEO initiatives.

1. Create a voice search campaign
Depending on your audience and brand, it might make more sense to set up a campaign dedicated solely to voice search audiences.

A separate campaign helps you tailor your audience targeting, location, ad copy, and landing pages to mobile voice search users.

It sounds like added work, but this ensures that your voice search users are seeing hyper-relevant results to their queries.

The more relevant you can be, the higher the chance of a conversion. Increase the odds by setting up your campaigns the right way for voice search.

2. Find existing long-tail keywords
While there are plenty of ways to conduct PPC keyword research, one of the best ways to find your voice search keywords is your organic SEO.

How are people finding your brand from search engines?

Access this information by going to Google Analytics > Acquisition > Search Console > Queries to see the results.

You can also check your Analytics to see what people search for once they’re on site; go to Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms.

If you’ve been running Google Ads for a while, check out your Google Ads search terms report. This will help you identify any long-tail keywords you can add to your voice search campaign.

Aim for queries that start with “Okay Google,” or any other voice assistant wake-up commands. This will help you identify the voice search keywords.

Don’t forget to add negative keywords, too. This can help you reduce irrelevant clicks and increase ROI.

Once you’ve brainstormed this list, add them to your PPC campaign. Carefully manage their performance and adjust as needed.

3. Get local
Because most voice search users are on mobile devices and looking for local results, it’s time to get local with your PPC strategy.

Be sure to implement extensions in your PPC campaign. These extensions are free to use and display important information on mobile, like your address, phone number, prices, and more.

You should also consider adding “near me” to keyword queries so you can show up more for these high-intent, mobile searches. This is a great way to increase foot traffic to a physical location.

Be sure to check your Google My Business listing, too. This affects not only organic local search efforts, but it can boost your PPC campaigns.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, voice search is the future of PPC. For now, PPC platforms are struggling to keep up with the changes. It’s up to you as a marketer to adjust your campaigns to appeal to voice search users. Follow these voice search best practices to stay relevant in the age of Alexa.

Not sure how to adjust your PPC campaign? Consult Logical Media Group’s expert PPC strategists. We can help you design a voice search strategy that gets both ears and eyes on your brand. Get in touch with us now to chat about your campaign.

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