How To Optimise Your Paid Search Campaigns For Voice Search

Earlier this year, everyone at Media Maze was able to get their hands on a number of goodies courtesy of Google and the Premier Partners scheme (you can read the full blog post here). One of the most exciting items we received was a Google Home Mini for each member of the team. The Google Home full sized version was initially released back in 2016 and it’s subsequent iterations, the Mini and the Max were released the following year in 2017. Like the Amazon Echo and the Apple HomePod, the Google Home is a smart speaker, which responds to voice commands with virtual assistants. Though home devices such as these have only picked up in popularity in the previous couple of years, virtual assistants are not a completely new concept; Apple first introduced Siri to its mobile devices back in 2011 and Microsoft integrated their version, Cortana, into all devices operating on Windows 10 back in 2015.

Having had lots of fun playing around with our new Google Home Mini’s in the office and comparing the various capabilities of the Google and Amazon virtual assistants (of which a few team members were already owners), it made us think about how voice search will implicate the future of the digital marketing landscape, and in particular, Paid Search campaigns. With Google claiming that 20% of searches are already made by voice, and predicting that by 2020, this amount will increase to 30% of searches, it is something of an inevitability that digital marketers will have to adapt themselves to this evolving consumer behaviour.

For PPC managers, the bulk of change will be in keyword and account structure. To begin optimising for voice search there are a few things that you can do:

Study Your Existing Traffic

The first necessary step is to check whether your existing campaigns are already receiving traffic from voice searches. Whilst performance metrics won’t directly tell you whether a search has been typed or spoken, there are ways to get an indication of whether people are using their voice to search for your products. To do so, download an AdWords search query report and select a time period (30-60 days depending on the volume of traffic you receive). An obvious indicator is where a search query has been prefixed by “OK Google”, “Hey Siri” or “Alexa”. Long tail search queries containing five or more keywords are also likely to be made by voice, as we use more conversational language when speaking to a device. For example, when speaking we might say, “OK Google, where is the best hair salon near me”, but when typing a query it’s more likely to be something like “best hair salon Manchester”. It should be noted however that this last observation is based on assumption and therefore you cannot be certain that such queries have been made by voice or otherwise, just from the length of a search query.

User Intent

The next step is to go back and truly get to grips with user intent. People who perform voice searches are likely to be looking for something specific and immediate, for example, the opening hours or address of a business. Search queries on mobile devices using the term “near me” are becoming more common, indicating that a large proportion of them could be being performed through voice. As such, it is worth examining search queries that start with things like “when does”, “how much is”, “how to” and so on. Detect the type of queries that are driving people to engage with an ad (clicking through) and whether they go on to convert and note them down.

Because the majority of voice searches are in a question format, it is important to optimise both your ad copy and landing page content to offer as relevant information to a users query as possible. Use language in your ads and landing pages that will mimic the natural, conversational style that is being used by a voice searcher and you will be more likely to provide a higher quality of user experience for your target audience. In addition, make sure that your website is up to date with important information such as your address and opening hours; this is a very simple step but it will help to increase your visibility on the search engine and answer a users query at the earliest possible stage, and therefore, create a better quality user experience. Consider what kind of information a user would need in order to make a decision about whether to make a conversion on your site and whether you have explicitly outlined important things such as the products you sell, your USP and so forth within the content of your website.

For those advertising locally and looking to capture traffic through “near me” voice searches, it is wise to take advantage of Location Extensions and Local Search Ads within Google Maps. Both of these features will help you become visible to people searching on the go and at the point of action, which will likely be those making searches with their voices.


To capture as much high quality traffic as possible, it is crucial that you revise and reselect your keywords for voice search specific queries. The search query report that you downloaded should give you a fair idea of what it is that your audience is searching for. Using a keyword selection tool (read our blog post all about keywords here), you should build out keyword lists for your campaigns that you think will bring in the most traffic from voice search. Think about bidding on longer tail keywords, conversational style keywords and be sure to include search terms such as “near me” and “where is”. The good thing about long tail keywords is that they are often overlooked in favour of shorter, more competitive keywords and so they are cheaper and less competitive to bid on, but still very important to have in your keyword list. Ensure that you are putting your highest bids on keywords with the most search intent, i.e. those that are likely to be from someone ready to take action rather than someone carryout out research. As always, remember to add negative keywords in order to filter out irrelevant searches for your campaign.

In  Conclusion…

The digital world is constantly evolving and with Artificial Intelligence, voice search and conversation commerce becoming increasingly embedded within our day-to-day behaviours and interactions, we are in the midst of the some of the biggest transformations of the digital landscape in a long time. This is an exciting time for brands and marketers alike, with new opportunities for interacting with potential customers becoming faster, enhanced and more direct than ever. It is highly possible that voice search will come to dominate search behaviours, with traditional search engine use taking a back seat in the future. Because of technologies like semantic search (the ability for a device to use contextual cues to infer what a user means in their search) natural language processing, and even voice recognition, as consumers we are now able to interact with devices in an extremely natural way, making it the preferred choice for a growing number of people. So, the best way to stay on top of these evolving trends is to become informed and start developing your strategies now.


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