How people search online – the devices they use and the components of their search – is an evolving practice. Advertisers need to stay aware of the changes in consumers’ habits to keep ahead of the curve.
Mobile Drives Search Advertising as Search Components Change
According to data from eMarketer’s “Search Marketing 2017: Marketers Seek Out Consumer Intent as Device Habits Evolve”, users’ search habits on media and while using their devices are including more voice and visual components, especially on mobile.
At the same time, mobile drives search ad spending in the United States, which is growing by double digits (almost 25 percent this year) even as desktop and laptop search ad outlays decrease. The search ad format is relatively mature, but is projected to keep growing at impressive rates.
Estimates from eMarketer predict that:
- Just over 71 percent of the U.S. population (or, 85 percent of internet users) will perform online search queries at least once a month in 2017.
- Nearly three in five consumers will search on smartphones in 2017. As recently as 2015, less than half did so.
So, we see that U.S search advertising is, for the most part, a mobile affair. In 2016, almost two-thirds of search ad dollars went to mobile. This year, it’s projected to hit 70 percent. By 2021, that number will be closer to 80 percent.
Google, of course, is the search leader (whether we’re talking paid or organic), and is growing its search ad revenue share in the U.S. – on mobile and overall. According to the “2017 Q2 Digital Marketing Report” from Merkle, just under 90 percent of U.S. search ad clicks happened on Google sites. Looking at just smartphone search ad clicks, Google has a 97 percent share.
Components Used During Searches
Keywords are still a search advertising staple. However, additional targeting options, such as demographics, location and sophisticated audience targeting are gaining popularity among marketers and advertisers.
Users sometimes use images instead of keywords for their searches. Image searches have limited popularity so far, though they may increase with platform advances.
According to a survey from BrightEdge, digital assistants and voice search are the future of search. Still, at the moment, these powerful components haven’t truly been integrated into marketing and advertising strategies. Let’s explore how that might begin to change.
A Future of Voice Search and Digital Assistants
In the past year, we’ve looked at voice search and digital assistants on a few occasions. Today, we’ll revisit the highlights of those discussions.
During the summer of 2016, we called Google voice search the future of paid advertising. Originating in 2008, the feature didn’t really pick up speed for about eight years. Some now say that voice should be the best form of input due to its speed, efficiency and accuracy.
Advertisers can prepare for this voice search future by keeping in mind searchers’ tendency to use conversational tones (for example, full sentences) and longer key phrases. Also consider the potential for mispronunciation and misspellings.
A little less than one year ago, we reminded advertisers to be ready for voice search. With increased adoption, voice search must meet the higher expectations of users.
Advertisers must first understand the difference between voice search and voice assistants: Voice search is simply performing a search query with voice instead of text. Voice (or digital) assistants are more complex with third-party and back-and-forth interaction.
Going back to voice search, this piece (link before last) offers some tips for increasing the chances of being found on voice search:
- Try some keyword phrases in the form of questions, as users will likely search that way.
- Include keywords on neighborhoods, points of interest and landmarks if you have a local presence.
- Keep listings on crowd-sourced sites like Yelp current, assuming users won’t always go to your website to get info.
Finally, in August, we examined Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report. According to that data, 20 percent of mobile queries were made with voice by the spring of 2016, and 70 percent of Google assistant requests were made in conversational language in the spring of 2017. At the moment, voice recognition is continuing to improve, and is quickly approaching human-like levels of accuracy:
Wondering about the latest tips on optimizing for voice search? BrightEdge has some ideas to get you started.
- Be prepared for mobile searches with mobile-friendly layouts and an understanding of search micro-moments.
- Use the five Ws – who, what, where, when and why – in your long-tail keyword phrases.
- Remember that devices may misinterpret voice search queries, and think about how you can capitalize on those mistakes.
- Develop areas of your website, such as the FAQs section, that can quickly answer the complete and conversational questions users ask.
- Understand the importance of alternate search verticals (Yelp, Kayak, etc.), and ensure you’re well represented on them.
Right now, mobile searches on the Google platform are leading the way in meeting the expectations of users. In the future, voice search and digital assistants will likely sustain much of that leadership. Advertisers should shift to a mindset of conversational mobile searches, and update their presence to reflect that.