The rise of personal searches: How can content marketers take advantage?

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As marketers in the ever-changing world of digital, success depends on knowing what consumers want and expect from us. After all, it’s the only way we can deliver.

So, it’s interesting to see that a recent data release from Google tells us that personalized search is becoming more and more prominent among internet users.

No longer are they turning to friends and family for personal advice and recommendations, but search engines too.

Of course, we already knew that… that’s why we work so hard at getting to know our audience and understanding their micro-moments and pain points, delivering the right content at the right time, in the right way.

But what Google is telling us is that rather than searching, “How often should you wash your hair?”, we are now searching “How often should I wash my hair?”. Changing those two little words is making the way that we use search engines far more personal than ever before.

And the data suggests that consumers now truly trust that their most specific needs can be answered by content on the web. In fact, in the last two years Google has reported that mobile searches using “…for me” has grown by a huge 60% over the last two years.

On top of this, they have also seen an 80% increase in mobile searches including “…should I?”. As a result, we really are treating search as one of our best, most trusted friends.

And that’s great news for content marketers.

For those of us working in motor, beauty, finance, fitness and pet care, it seems that this new insight is especially relevant – these are the industries in which users are most frequently turning to Google to solve their personal pain points.

How can we prepare and optimize our content for these types of search? Tools

Creating calculators and tools is a brilliant way of targeting personal search terms and providing our users with the personalized response they are looking for. Let’s use a fitness example to demonstrate this:

This recent data circulation from Google suggests that users are starting to search for something like, “how much water should I drink each day?” in higher volumes than something like, “how much water should you drink per day?”.

Now, most of us know that the answer to this question will depend on a number of different factors including gender, body composition, activity level and so on.

What our audience is expecting from this search is a personalized answer that takes all of these things into consideration and tells them exactly how much water they should personally be drinking each day.

A water consumption calculator would do this well, and if the user wants the specificity of an individual result, they will be willing to fill in the necessary personal details to retrieve it. A blog post that simply states the average recommended fluid intake for a man or a woman as recommended by the NHS is no longer user focused enough.

Case studies and testimonials

Providing personalized content will not always be easy, and at times users may need encouragement to spend a little longer on a page to find the personalized answer they are looking for. In this instance, case studies and testimonials are a great way to push users further through their journey in the right direction.

For example, “How much money do I need to retire?” is a more complex question than our fitness example. There are so many variants that could alter the accurate and personalized response to this question, so it’s difficult to answer it quickly in a personalized way.

However, if we provide users with a testimonial or case study at the right stage in their journey – one that was created after a lot of persona research and uses someone or a situation that will resonate with them – they are likely to engage with the content.

Creating engagement via a case study will increase the likelihood that they’ll enquire with your brand for a more personalized answer, continuing their journey on their way to the personalized answer they are looking for.

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Hygiene content

Informational content (something we refer to here at Zazzle as ‘hygiene content’) is absolutely essential in light of this evolution of search.

It’s critical that all the informational content and resources on your website are up to date, and as specific to the different types of users you’re expecting to visit your site as possible. Not only this, but ensuring that on-page content is optimised for longtail search (tying back to your personas) is a must.

Moreover, having a clear call to action that points the user in the direction of personalized answers to their questions is also important. It isn’t always possible to answer their query in an individualized way using written content, but pointing the user towards a ‘contact us here’ call to action could make all the difference in their user journey, and ultimately, whether they end up with you or your competitor.   

Thought leadership and expert content

Finally, with consumers turning to search like a trusted friend or family member more than ever before, you need to ensure that the content you’re putting out there is seen as being the most reliable. Therefore, it’s never been more important to be viewed as a thought leader within your field.

Expert content will naturally help to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship. It also means that when you are appearing in SERPs, your expert reputation will stand you in good stead when it comes to users choosing which ‘friend’ they want to seek advice from.

We can’t wait to see how the evolution of search changes the way that Google is rewarding and penalizing brands’ content. The above is just a start, but we are certain we will be kept on our toes as time goes on!

Emma is a Content Strategy Lead at Zazzle Media.

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