As the digital landscape continues to evolve at a staggering rate, user behaviors and demands have shifted to emphasize new forms of convenience — especially related to product- and service-based search queries, which, in recent years, have become increasingly contingent on voice technology. Naturally, these changes have challenged ad creators to redefine optimization for a new, voice-focused generation of consumers. 

Since announcing our intentions to roll out voice technology in 2011, Google has grown to recognize vocal queries as not only a convenience for general users, but also an effective tool for businesses to broaden audience reach, improve engagement, and ultimately establish themselves in Google’s perpetual ad auction. 

Why optimize for voice in 2019-20?

Voice searches have, objectively, become a cornerstone of modern searching (particularly on mobile devices, where hands-free functionality has matured as a technological norm). To forgo voice-based optimization is to potentially stunt the performance of an ad campaign. In fact, as voice searching’s share increases within the grand scheme of search engine optimization (SEO), some industry commentators expect it to soon reflect the vast majority of, if not all, searches across all devices. 

Revisiting context and intent

Generally, advertising via Google has grown to better identify and implement both user intent and query context. These variables have, therefore, become increasingly important in voice-based ad optimization. Google Ads now offers a variety of criteria-based targeting methods, ensuring an ad reaches the majority of queries it hopes to garner, and these narrowing tactics can gain a whole new meaning when optimized for voice-based searches. 

For example, the use of negative keywords may eliminate words and phrases that may be scarce or unlikely in the average vocal query (despite being organic to a text-based search); these may include phrases like “near me”, “where do I”, and “how to.” 

PPC keywords

Similarly, PPC keywords in general have become impacted by the growing advent of voice searching. This specific change is rooted, mostly, in the general tendency of voice queries to be longer and more conversational than their textual counterparts — searches that are broadly referred to as “long-tail.” Long-tail keywords can seem counterintuitive to today’s high-speed search demands, but when used properly, they can greatly complement an ad campaign that is cognizant of voice searching. 

It is important to note that, despite this notion, long-tail keywords are typically lower in volume, and as a result, many businesses now focus on adding a series of common or expected voice searches (generally an average of three queries) to increase click frequency and win a wider variety of searchers.