Pocket assistant: an increase in personal searches

Matt Geary in Growth hacking on 22nd of Nov 2018
google search trends for 2019

Google search trends for 2019

Years ago, we would all trust our closest friends and family members to give us the best advice. Now, new data suggests that most people are turning to search engines to inform their personal decisions, whether they're big or small.

In the past two years, Google has observed a change in the way people are searching — searches are now highly personal. When it comes to finding advice, solving a problem or looking for something, searches for words like "me," "my," and "I" have increased up to 80%.

By analyzing personal searches, marketers can deeply understand customer intent. These relatively new qualifiers give insight into intent and provide the opportunity to bring their messages brands front-and-center when the time is ripe.

"For me"

People aren't searching for "best family car" anymore; they're searching for "best family car for me." They're looking for a highly personal response.

To help answer customer searches, meet their query with a quiz. A quiz will help them narrow down their options and it also doubles as a lead generation tool.

For example, if somebody is searching "best family car for me," design a quiz that asks: how many children do you have? What's your budget? Is 4WD important to you?

Just make sure your quiz is quick and easy to use. If not, your potential customers will likely go somewhere else — meaning you miss out on the opportunity to collect customer information like an email address.

If you have the budget and/or database, you can also use search history, transactional history and previous content interactions to give a relevant answer "for me."

"Should I?"

The qualifier "should I" has grown 65% in the past two years. Instead of turning to a friend or colleague, people are asking Google: "what should I get for lunch?" They're even asking highly personal questions like: "should I go vegan?"

The way to answer these questions isn't always straightforward. The modifier "what" is key here — "what should I eat for lunch" indicates the user is looking for a suggestion. If you're in the hospitality, health or fitness industry, you can answer this question with suggestions for what to eat for lunch. It's also a clear opportunity for restaurants to get in front of audiences and suggest today's lunch specials.

"Should I" by itself is asking for a yes or no answer. For example, the current top result for "Should I go vegan" is a yes; with the article "14 reasons to go Vegan" featured as a rich snippet.

Take a deep dive into user searches surrounding your brand and industry to understand what content you need to be pushing in order to increase qualified traffic.

"Near me"

People have seemed to have cottoned-on to the fact that "near me" is a signal to find things based on their location data. It's clear that they’re looking for something that's immediate and close.

Ensure your business information (especially your address) is filled out and easily findable by Google. This way when someone asks "____ near me," you're right there on the map.

Location doesn't always have to be explicitly requested. Google has reported an increase in searches for:

"is it going to rain today" while searches for "[location] weather forecast" have declined. This shows users are expecting location to be an inferred part of their search.

Interpretation is key

Even with search terms that are not explicit, people are expecting accurate and relevant information. They're expecting short, simple phrases to deliver the results they're after when they search.

To interpret these vague signals, marketers need to capture and use contextual data. Brands that can understand the intent behind these user searches will be the ones to see results.

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