You know that annoying person who always finishes your sentences for you?
Ever noticed how Google seems more and more like that? Just start searching for “how to scramble eggs” or “madagascar hissing cockroaches” and every letter of the way you will be given a dropdown with different suggestions of what you might be searching for.
You may appreciate Google’s prompt assistance, or you may find it too forward.
Whatever you think of it personally, let’s take a look at how the new Google Suggest feature is impacting your business and marketing efforts – and discuss how you can take advantage of it.
First, what determines what gets suggested?
1) Search volume – this is a biggie, and makes sense. The more people searching for a term, the more likely it is to be suggested in the Autocomplete.
2) Timeliness – there needs to be a distinction between big picture search volume and little picture search volume. Some topics are popular, period. iPhone. Justin Bieber. Puppies. They drive large amounts of search no matter the day, no matter the hour. Then there are topics which have seasonal high peaks. The Super Bowl. Cyber Monday. Mother’s Day gifts. And there are also topics which trend because of a news event. Hurricane Sandy. Royal baby. Malaysia plane.
3) Location – the suggestions you’ll get for “shopping” will be different if you’re in New York versus Hong Kong. You can affect what you’re shown by changing the location setting on your browser. Even if you change the location setting on your mobile browser, though, you’ll still be shown the suggestions relevant to where you really are – can’t fool those smartphones.
4) Your personal past searches
Let’s give an example to see this in action.
If you type the letter “o” into Google, you’ll get this dropdown.
If you add the letter “l”, the dropdown will change to:
Why does “olympics” not appear when only “o” is typed, whereas “old navy” makes the cut?
If we check out the average monthly search volume in Google’s Keyword Planner, we’ll see that “old navy” does have significantly more search than “olympics,” which could answer our questions.
But let’s refine our answer: look at the month over month spread of those searches:
Old Navy has a relatively consistent number of people a month searching for it.
Olympics search is anything but consistent. Why? Because people mainly search for olympics when it’s… uh, the Olympics.
So it could be that a month ago, if you typed “o”, olympics would beat out old navy – or any other o term. And it could even be that we’re seeing it suggested now for “ol” because of leftover olympic fervor, and if I type in “ol” in another five months, it won’t be suggested at all.
type in “black f”. What does Google suggest?
Black forest cake. Yum.
But if you look at Google’s top searched terms for 2013 (an interesting read in and of itself), the top searched event is “Black Friday”.
And if you look at the search volume for each, you get:
Black friday is way higher – what gives?
Like the Olympics, Black Friday is a very seasonal search. November garnered over 9 million searches for black friday, whereas months like March and April only had 60-70,000. (Black forest cake still doesn’t usually have more than 60,000 searches a month, but I guess in these months they’re more neck and neck.)
Who’s betting that come November, Black Friday will be the top suggested term when you type in “black f”?
Interestingly enough, when I typed in “black f” just now (as opposed to last night when I took that screenshot, Google suggested “black friday” as an option.) What changed? Well, I did at least a search or two for “black friday” in between in the context of writing this blog post. The artificially intelligent mind of Google learns fast.
Okay, now you know how it works. What does that mean for your marketing?
Search for your target topic before you choose your keyword. Start typing and see what’s suggested. If there are certain phrases that get suggested as you type, write them down. Use that as a plus factor for choosing that keyword, taking into account competition and search volume (Keep in mind: it may change based on season and general search volume – but it should still a factor in your decision.)
Get on the bandwagon. Trying to think of a topic to write a blog post about? Start typing topics and see what Google suggests. Piggybacking onto a popular current event or news item can be an effective traffic strategy. Do be aware that it may or may not be an effective business strategy, depending on whether the visitors you’re attracting are actually interested in what you have to offer.
Take control of the topics Google suggests for your brand. Do a search for your brand. What brand topics does Google suggest? Jobs? Reviews? Scams? (Uh-oh.) For all the topics you’d like people to find, build out pages on your own website for them. Make sure you have a “jobs” page or a “revenue” page. If reviews show up, be proactive about pursuing good reviews on sites like Yelp. If scams, scandals or other negative terms (dis)grace your Google suggestions, it might be worth checking with an online reputation management specialist to see what can be done about it.
How can you affect which terms are displayed for your name?
1) Search volume – encourage people (real people – spending five hours searching for the same term over and over isn’t going to help) to search for the terms. Tell them in person and in your online collateral: you want to see our career options? Google “our brand jobs.”
2) Mentions of the term on the internet. You’d like Google to suggest “our brand special offers”? Use that term on your website, across social media and on your posts on other sites.
More details about popular suggest terms for small, medium and large businesses and hints for affecting search results can be found in this great post.
We suggest you go take a look at Google Suggest and discover what it can suggest to improve your online marketing.
Find anything interesting? Let us know in the comments below!
Submitted by Aviva