How to Optimize Your PPC Ads for Google Voice Search

How to Optimize Your PPC Ads for Google Voice Search

If popular digital assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa have taught us anything, it’s that voice technology is dramatically changing the way that consumers search for information online. And that holds especially true for Google Voice Search — instead of wasting countless hours scrolling and surfing on Google’s search pages, voice activated search enables us to find exactly what we are looking for simply by saying the word.

It’s a trend that is experiencing a rapid upward trajectory. The Wall Street Journal reports that 51 percent of consumers use voice search in their cars, and 39 percent use voice assistants in their homes. And these statistics are only increasing as more consumers become both familiar and comfortable with voice search technology for their day-to-day activities.

But as Google Voice Search and other voice search capabilities rise in popularity, they’re also becoming important vehicles for businesses that want to improve their pay-per-click performance and reach new consumers. As a result, it’s now vital for marketers and businesses to start thinking about how they can optimize their PPC ad campaigns for these types of search engine queries.

The following discusses why it’s important to consider Google Voice Search and PPC when developing your pay-per-click ad strategy, while providing actionable tips for optimizing your PPC ads for Google Voice Search queries.


Google Voice Search and PPC: A Winning Combination

It’s no secret that digital assistants and voice search technology make our lives easier by enabling more convenient online searches — users need to simply ask their device a question and they will get an answer just a few moments later. Among other things, this development allows people to interact with their devices in a way that’s more natural and less constrained, using familiar language and a conversational tone to access the information they need.

As such, voice search has become a popular feature for Google search engine users. Google’s CEO reports that 20 percent of the queries on its mobile app and across Android devices are voice searches. Those numbers are continuing to grow, attributed largely to accessibility — people can use Google Voice Search on both their mobile and desktop devices. After the user articulates their search query, they are taken to the search engine results page and from there, they can click on different links to get the information they need. When considering how these types of searches impact your PPC campaigns, it’s important to recognize that though voice queries often return similar results to typed queries, there are a few important differences:


  • Voice search queries are often longer than typed search queries. In fact, most voice search queries are more than five or six words long.
  • Though both voice search queries and typed queries will often use the same keywords, some keywords are seen more often on voice queries.
  • Voice search queries are also typically in the form of a question. Given that these queries are more conversational, they will contain more question terms like What, Where, When, and How.
  • Since many voice searches are from a mobile device, you will find that voice search has high worth when it comes to local searches, for example, like those that contain the phrase “near me.”


All of these voice search variables can impact your search engine marketing strategy. For example, depending on your target audience, you may aim to reach more mobile users. And the more mobile your audience, the more important Google Voice Search will become when considering PPC ads and target keywords.

It’s important to note that while there are a range of different voice search technologies, from Amazon’s Alexa to Apple’s Siri, the focus of this particular post is on Google. The reason? If you’re using Google AdWords, then Google Voice Search will have the greatest impact on your PPC ad campaigns. That said, you can also apply the same information you learn here to ads on other search engines like Bing and Yahoo.


8 Tips for Optimizing Your PPC Ads for Google Voice Search

Now that you know how Google Voice Search may impact your PPC ad strategy, you’ll need to learn how to optimize your PPC ads for voice search queries. The good news is that if you are currently using SEO and PPC best practices to optimize your campaigns, you may not have too much work to do.

Here are a few tips that will help you get started optimizing your PPC ads for Google Voice Search:


1. Start by taking a look at your existing search term data.

Before you begin optimizing your ad campaigns for voice search, it’s important that you look at the current data you have on which search terms consumers are using to find your brand online. Take a look at your search term report on AdWords to identify which long-tail queries are triggering your PPC ad campaigns. Although Google doesn’t currently provide a separate report for voice search queries, there are ways of finding which queries might be used by consumers utilizing voice search.

Once you have exported the report, you can filter the data to look at search terms that begin with “Ok Google.” This will allow you to see some of the exact terms leveraged by search engine users when they look for brands like yours through Google Voice Search.

In addition to searching for the phrase, “Ok Google,” you should also take a look at the long-tail keywords that are at least five or six words or more. Because voice search users tend to have more conversational search queries, consumers may use these longer keyword phrases to find your brand online via voice search. After developing a list of keywords and phrases from your existing search term data, you can then add them to your AdWords campaigns.


2. Launch dedicated question ad campaigns on Google AdWords.

As previously mentioned, Google Voice Search queries are typically more conversational than typed queries, most likely because consumers who type queries into the search bar recognize that they are interacting with a machine and are more likely to deliberately use shorter, logical phrasing.

Voice search users, however, tend to use more filler words and conversational questions as they would when talking to a person. Also, due to the conversational nature of voice search queries, these consumers are more likely to ask a question. For your business, that means you’ll need to develop dedicated question ad campaigns and bid on question-based keywords to drive intent.

Meanwhile, the type of question a search engine user asks can reveal a lot about their degree of intent. For instance, “what,” “who,” and “why” based questions indicate interest, but not necessarily a desire to take action. Questions that begin with “when” and “where” tend to indicate that a user may be more ready to buy.

Going forward, you can consider these nuances when developing a list of target question-based keywords for your campaigns. If you’re trying to reach consumers who are ready to buy, you will use different types of question-based keywords than if you are trying to attract consumers who are in the awareness or consideration phases of the buyer’s journey. Target the question-based keywords that make the most sense based on your unique conversion goals.


3. Consider including the top three question keywords in your PPC campaigns.

While most voice search users are utilizing long-tail keywords in their queries, it’s important to remember that long-tail search queries often have low traffic volume. That’s why your business may want to include the top three question keywords or keyword phrases in your sets to capture more voice queries in your ad campaigns.

Use Google AdWords keyword planner to investigate the volume and competition levels for the keyword phrases you would like to use. In addition to lower volume, less competitive keywords, you may also want to use question-based keywords that have a higher search volume. This will help ensure that you are expanding your reach on the search engines for voice search users.

And although you do want to reach as many voice search users as possible, remember not to let the low traffic volume keep you from utilizing less popular, question-based keywords that may be relevant to your PPC ad campaigns. Long-tail question-based keywords are more specific, which helps you increase relevancy in your campaigns. While you might not reach many users, the users that you do reach will likely be the right fit for your brand.


4. Add negative terms that don’t apply to your product/service.

Just like you would with your typical PPC ad campaigns for typed queries, you need to generate a negative keyword list for Google Voice Search queries. When looking at your search term report, you’ll probably notice that in your voice searches there are some queries that may be relevant, but not necessarily ideal for your brand. These are often the terms that don’t apply to your products or services, and thus, the terms you don’t want your PPC ads appearing next to in the search engine results. By including these negative keywords, you’ll be able to avoid attracting unqualified traffic.

In addition, you may also want to include keywords that suggest the wrong intent. For instance, if you are trying to target consumers in the decision phase, you may want to use negative keywords to avoid attracting consumers that are just starting the buyer’s journey. And because many of these search queries will be phrased as a question, you’ll also need to include negative question terms in your negative keyword list to avoid attracting consumers who are not the right fit.

In addition to generating a new negative keyword list, you should also revisit existing ones for your legacy PPC ad campaigns. To optimize these lists for voice search, consider removing negative keywords like “near me,” “where do I,” and “how to.” This will help you capture more voice search traffic from users who are phrasing their query as a question.


5. Enable AdWords location extensions.

Google AdWords location extensions, which allow your business to display its address, phone number, and directions to your physical location right next to your PPC ads, is an effective way to make sure that your ads are being displayed for mobile searchers who are on the go and ready to buy. Ultimately, this feature allows your business to show up more often in the “near me” searches, which are critical for reaching local shoppers who are currently near your location and ready to make a purchase. Given that many mobile searchers are using Google Voice Search, especially when in the car, using this extension can also help you attract more  users. Using Google location extensions is especially important for businesses that have more than one location, as it will allow users to see where the locations are on the map and choose the store that is most convenient to them.


6. Customize ad copy to answer search query questions.

No matter what type of target audience you are trying to reach with your PPC ad campaigns, it’s vital to create customized ad copy that is relevant to the search query. Your ad content should provide some context based on the targeted search terms while enticing users to click on your link to take the next step toward conversion.

When it comes to Google Voice Search and PPC, consider answering the question-based query in your ad content. For instance, if you are targeting the question-based phrase “where can I buy camera equipment near me,” you need to make sure that the ad content clearly answers this question while inviting the user to click on your link to learn more about your business. Naturally, the more relevant and engaging your ad copy, the more likely search engine users will click on your ad.


7. Create relevant and contextual landing pages.

If you are serious about your PPC campaigns, you should already be creating relevant and contextual landing pages for ad traffic. Many beginners will make the mistake of driving PPC ad traffic back to their home page. However, this doesn’t create an effective gateway to the next step in conversion, as it frequently offers too many options for the consumer. That, in turn, can cause them to navigate away from the page before taking any desired action.

Instead, you need to create PPC landing pages that are optimized for conversion — that is, specific and contextual landing pages that help you effectively guide users to the next step in the buyer’s journey. Among other things, that means you’ll need to make sure that your landing pages are optimized in the same way your ad copy is. If your ad addresses a question-based keyword, you should also discuss the answer to this question in your landing page copy. Similarly, you should also ensure that the offer you are delivering through the landing page relates to the PPC ad content.

Also, because many Google Voice Search users are utilizing this technology on their mobile devices, you’ll want to ensure that your landing pages are also optimized for mobile. That means keeping graphics to a minimum and keeping any copy on the page clear and concise.


8. Claim and update your Google My Business Listing.

Since many voice search users are looking for local businesses, it is important that you have claimed your Google My Business listing and updated the information, which helps increase your chances of showing up in Google Voice Search results pertaining to your location and business category.

Claiming and keeping your listing up-to-date will not only help your PPC ad campaigns, it will also benefit your organic search. By scanning your Google My Business listing, the search engine can better understand the category of business as well as your location and hours — information that allows Google to deliver more relevant content for local search engine users.


Key Takeaways

Google Voice Search is a powerful trend that will continue to impact your PPC advertising strategy. As you begin to optimize your PPC campaigns for this tool, keep the following in mind:

  • Voice search queries are often longer and more conversational than typed queries, which affects the types of PPC ad keywords you will use to reach these users.
  • Launching dedicated question ad campaigns will help you reach more Google Voice Search users with your PPC ads.
  • It’s important to consider intent when developing a list of question-based keywords to target with your PPC ad campaigns.
  • You should also consider which negative keywords will help you improve the relevancy and effectiveness of your ad campaigns.
  • Be sure to craft relevant and contextual ad copy and mobile-optimized landing page content to help guide users to the next step in conversion.

When it comes to Google Voice Search and PPC ads, don’t be afraid to experiment a little bit to see what works and what doesn’t. Once you find a strategy that works for reaching more voice search users, you can then adjust your overall PPC ad strategy based on your results. While it might take some trial and error, accommodating a fast-growing technology will give you access to new and diverse groups of consumers that will only open new doors — and revenue opportunities — for your campaigns.


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Simon Hall

Simon Hall is the Content Marketing Manager at QuanticMind. He is using his experience in account development to design innovative programs that drive demand and create messaging that resonates with customers and empowers the sales organization to be successful. Simon earned a bachelor’s degree in Fine and Studio Arts from Loughborough University (UK) and a Diploma in International Studies at Hong Kong Design Institute (Hong Kong).