Three Key Differences Between Voice Search and Text Search

Jill Goldstein - March 7, 2018

Did you know that the average person can type between 38-40 words per minute, but can speak 110-150 words per minute? It’s 3.75x faster to talk than it is to type. In a world where we are all moving faster than ever, it’s not a surprise that voice search has really begun to grow in use. According to Google (as of May 2016), 20% of Google app searches are now by voice and Bing estimates that by 2020 50% of all search will be by either voice or image.

As we begin to look at what this means for our paid search campaigns, we think about the key differences between voice search and text search.

#1 Voice search has longer queries

The average text search is somewhere between 1-3 words. Searchers these days know that they don’t need to type in full sentences to get the results that they want. We’re not asking Jeeves anymore! In comparison, voice search is generally longer-tailed keywords, with 7+ words.

At this point in time, there’s no true way to determine what percentage of your queries are driven by voice, however you can use word length to estimate. Simply download a search terms report for the past year and utilize the following formula to count the words per query: “=IF(LEN(TRIM(A2))=0,0,LEN(TRIM(A2))-LEN(SUBSTITUTE(A2,” “,””))+1)”

To ensure you are showing up in search for these longer queries, make sure that your match types are not prohibiting you from showing up in the SERPs. Broad match modifier keywords are a great way to expand your reach, while maintaining control over what searches you appear on.

#2 Voice search encourages natural language

When using voice search, we are generally asking Google, Siri, Cortana, etc. for answers to questions. In fact, year over year we’ve seen a healthy growth in searches that start with questions, and those questions do a much better job in revealing intent of the search. For example:

What/Who: What is the best running shoes for me?

How: How often should you replace your running shoes?

Where: Where can I find Nike running shoes?

When: When does Dicks Sporting Goods open today?

As you can see from the above example, what/who and how questions will generally show interest/research and when and where questions will generally indicate that users are ready to make a purchase. Those where and when questions will leads us to our last key difference.

#3 Voice search tends to be more locally driven

Mobile voice searches are 3X more likely to be local-based than text search. In fact, two of the biggest use cases for voice search is calling someone and asking for directions. This places a great importance on both location and call extensions. As a best practice, it’s always best to utilize all ad extensions that make sense for your business, however if you have a phone number and/or physical location, these locally driven extensions are now vital.

If you have any questions on the rise of voice search and how that will impact your paid search efforts, please contact us!

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