For a long time, it’s been understood that longer search queries tend to exhibit clearer intent. However, in the early days of online marketing there was still a lot of benefit to be had from targeting those short search queries. Back then users did not really understand how to search effectively, and would simply enter a couple of keywords and hope for the best.
Today, the way that we engage with search engines has changed, and users are relying on increasingly long search queries to try to find the information that they want to access. Search queries are getting longer and more precise, and this offers advertisers some great opportunities to reach a targeted audience.
Why are Searches Changing?
One of the main reasons that searches have changed so much is that the way Google interprets user queries has changed. Google’s semantic search feature tries to understand the intent behind a query, and then present the best possible information for that intent. This means that it makes sense for users to ask a detailed question, rather than simply look for information about a given topic.
Another thing that has fuelled the change is the increasing popularity of voice search on mobile devices. As more and more people start using voice search, it is only natural that queries in the form of sentences and normal speech patterns would become the norm. While some mobile users do opt for brevity, the problem of accuracy when typing on mobile keyboards, and the problem of autocorrect changing the entire meaning of a search, is not something that we can ignore. Voice search is often a far more appealing option.
Optimising for Longer Searches
Many webmasters already optimise for “long tail” keywords, but if you are not doing this then now is a good time to do so. Rather than trying to rank for a generic and high competition keyword, it makes sense to focus on narrower, but useful, keywords. Aim for key phrases that include your geographic area, or more detailed questions about your product or service. Look at the intent behind each of those phrases, and use that to improve your sales copy, remarketing and advertising campaigns.
The way that the general public use search is changing, and that means the way that brand owners optimise their sites should change too. Searchers are volunteering a lot more information about themselves, so take advantage of that to target them better.