Are You Ready for Conversational Search?

Search-Changes It used to be the only time I talked to my computer was to scream expletives about how long it was taking to calculate a pivot table. That’s all about to change.

It’s time to tackle the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How of search marketing.

Conversational search is here, and we expect to see exponential growth in more “human” types of search queries. Yes, it’s actually been here for a while, but we’re expecting to see more growth and more diversity of search queries as general users (and not just us early adopters) start getting used to using more “human” search queries.

To put it into context, take a look at the growth of a few choice Google Trends graphs for key “question” keywords.

“How Do I?


“What is the best?”


Why is this so cool?

Google’s conversational search is more than just voice-activated search. Contextual answers and the use of previous search queries is, well… pretty mind blowing and futuristic. Try a search for “What’s the weather today?” and you’ll find customized results based on your location. After searching for a specific subject, Google now uses previous queries to further refine your searches. For a more in-depth analysis of the consumer facing whistles and bells, give Danny Sullivan’s article a quick read.

So, it’s cool. It’s here. Now, for the big question: Is your search strategy ready for capturing and optimizing for conversational searches? Let’s shift our focus back to the bread-and-butter question:

As a search marketer, how can you take advantage of this?

Any change in search behavior almost always leads to low hanging fruit for the early adopters. Here are a few tips on how and where to incorporate conversational search queries into your SEM and SEO keyword strategies.

Here Are Five Tactical Tips for Capturing Conversational Searches

  1. If you haven’t already, start building out some obvious question keywords that align with your client’s goals and products.
  2. Look for the WWWWH in your search query reports and pay closer attention to where the search activity is coming from and continue to build your keyword lists.
  3. Google’s Knowledge Graph is attempting to answer most basic factual questions; so, instead, focus your strategy on subjective questions. Stay away from terms with simple empirical answers since Google & Bing are both trying to cut out basic informational sites with immediate answers and not web links. Focus on superlatives like “what is the best/top/recommended/highest rated”.
  4. Don’t forget your landing pages! If your landing page isn’t answering the question that prompted the query, then the incremental traffic won’t mean much. Build out FAQ’s on your site or focus blog content around answering questions essential to your clients and customers.
  5. Not all questions are positive! An interesting and effective way to go after competitive keywords or products is to identify frustrated customers and provide a better option. For example, Apple could go after terms like “Why is my PC so slow?” or Honda could start buying terms like “How do I know if my Toyota has been recalled?”

Never a dull moment in search. Now go. Adapt!



Dan Golden has been in the search business since 2001 and brings a wealth of digital marketing experience to Be Found Online. A graduate of Northwestern University with a B.A. in Economics, he has a diverse digital marketing background having spent time on the client side, freelance consulting, at large agencies and in start-up environments.

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