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3 min read

HeroConf 2016: Humanising Search – Optimising PPC For Voice Search

This article was updated on: 07.02.2022

Talk by James Murray, Product Marketing Manager at Bing

As PPC marketers, there’s a strong argument that we’ve lost touch with the human in what we do.

We’ve made humans adapt to search, when actually it should be the other way round. The search box is in command.

New Search Intelligence

So what happens when we put the human back into search? When we use voice search to ask “Do I Need An Umbrella Tomorrow?”, we’re not asking for shopping results for umbrellas, or the nearest department store selling umbrellas, as a keyword might think. It’s all about context.

James refers to the advances in voice search as a three-step process, with the understanding of these contexts developing at each stage;

  1. Pervasive – voice search wherever we need it, all the time
  2. Predictive – knowing what you need as (or before) you ask for it
  3. Proactive – giving you answers to questions that you haven’t thought to ask, but are going to improve your life

It’s predicted 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020.

“As humans, we’re more resistant to the idea of change, than the change itself”

For marketers this means thinking in natural language terms. Look at the two examples below; the first is the keyword-orientated style search that users have been ’taught’ will get them results. The second is a much more natural approach, the type that would be more commonly found in a voice search.

a) cheap turkey holidays or b) cost of a family holiday in Turkey

James also addresses exactly how good can a machine really be at voice recognition? As a result of Microsoft using it’s 145,000 global employees worldwide, with all their different accents, colloquialisms and voices, voice recognition now stands at a staggering 99% accuracy.

So while we can have confidence in voice recognition, what about the search query itself? As part of this shift to voice search, marketers need to consider the nuances of their audience.

For example, does your product or service appeal to a particular gender (linguistics studies have proved time and time again how men and women use language differently), or is your audience made up of mostly over-50s or teenagers, and how do they use language? If your campaign is targeted to a specific location, you may also need to consider ‘local’ words and colloquialisms.

What You Can Do To Optimise Your Campaigns Today

  1. Add question keywords, the ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘how much’. This changes the nature of the query but becomes a lot more like natural language, allowing you to answer the users question more explicitly with your ad.
  2. Consider your prepositions, e.g. ‘for’, ‘and’ and ‘the’. Bing now includes these in exact match keywords (18 months ago it ignored them). Re-think your keywords to ensure you’re not missing out on traffic.
  3. Include more broad keywords (collective gasp from the room at this point). You can’t possibly think of all the variations that come with voice search; a text search typically contains 2-3 words, but data from voice search so far suggests this word count is more like 4-5 words. In a similar way to point two above, advertisers using only exact and phrase are missing out on 70% of queries according to Bing.
  4. Target local ‘near me’ queries with geo-targeted campaigns. Expectation of the user is that this will be within 5 miles of their current location. However, less than 10% of Bing advertisers use location targeting with a 5-mile radius or less.

And What About The Future?

James previewed an impressive video at the end of his talk, giving us a hint as to what we can expect from the future of Bing & voice search.

Features included visual recognition (I want a dress that looks like this”), interaction with payment gateways (“enter my payment details”) and proactive prompts from digital personal assistants (“I hear you’re in Vegas, would you like recommendations for dinner?”).

While these features may be months or years away, standard voice search is not. Prepare now to reap the rewards in the not-so-distant future.