The Change in How Audiences Are Searching

There have been countless shifts in PPC advertising over the years. Some have been due to technology updates within the platforms themselves, such as new campaign types or targeting methods, automation and remarketing. Other shifts have come about as a reflection of user behavior, especially anything and everything mobile and app based. With that rise in mobile use, I believe another shift is coming our way.

he shift is in how our target audience is searching.

The Shift Towards Voice Search

Branded3 compiled an amazing list of stats about the growing use and upcoming trends of voice search. They are really interesting. A few that peaked my interest the most?

  • “50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020” according to comscore.
  • “Google voice search queries in 2016 are up 35x over 2008” according to Google trends via Search Engine Watch.
  • “Nearly 50% of people are now using voice search when researching products.” via Social Media Today.

The number of users, searches, and mediums for voice search continues to grow year after year. While voice search certainly happens on a desktop, the majority are made via mobile where it is often faster and easier than typing your query in.

The result? More informal, conversational searches that can be unpredictable (and sometimes awkward) as searchers aren’t either used to talking into the phones or have trouble verbalizing the information they are seeking.

Impact on PPC

This trend may reflect a need to expand into more broad match or modified broad match keywords to capture these “outside the box” searches. Make sure you monitor your search query reports to find any hidden gems. You may even need to expand the time frames in your reports and take a hard look at longer tail search terms. I like to use the filter tool to search on keywords containing parts of these search terms to see they work well for my business or not. This also helps reveal any trends.

Increase in Personal Searches

Searchers used to turn to the internet for more objective information and turn to friends and family for subjective advice. Not so much anymore. The rise of personal searches, searches that are asking search engines for individual-specific guidance, is on the rise.

The result? Think with Google recently reported a rise over the last two years in searches including words like “me”, “my” and “I”. A specific example is an increase of 80% of mobile searches for “…should I…”

A few other examples of more personalized searches would be those that now include “near me”, “for me”, “which”, “where”, and “what”.

Here’s a chart to show you a few examples of what this shift from more formal searches to informal, personalized might look like :

Previous Search Term

Corresponding “Personalized”

Search Term

iphone vs android

which phone is best for me

nail salons in anytown, USA

best nail salons near me

local events this weekend

what should I do on Saturday

vacation ideas

where should I go on vacation


Impact on PPC: Let’s take a look at the last one by plugging in both to Adwords Keyword Planner.

Vacation ideas keywords have higher competition and are more expensive. Your company probably doesn’t have the budget of the big kahunas out there bidding on that high level of a term. However, you could salvage your budget and even increase results by moving toward the more personalized search term iteration. Test out personalized versions of some of your top keywords by impressions to see how this works for your business or clients. Also, consider testing a more laid back tone with any corresponding ad copy or extensions for these keywords to see if that resonates more with your target audience.

Have you seen an impact from voice or personal search in your PPC efforts? Comment below to share more.