Technology has had a huge impact on the way that we access goods and services – and this continues to evolve. As more and more people now use tech such as smart speakers and virtual assistants to conduct searches, we’re moving into a new era of search that requires a shift in thinking. In particular, the language that we use to search is going through a significant transition.

The rise of conversational search queries

The use of more intuitive technology means that we now search in a way that feels more focused and personal than ever before. This has triggered an expansion in the number of “for me” searches that are frequently framed in the same way as they might be during a conversation between two people where one is asking the other for advice. Often, this involved the use of “I” in the search terms, as opposed to something more generic such as “what is the best product or service for…” So, for example, mobile searches that involve the words “should I” have increased by 65%. Instead of search queries along the lines of “what is the best broadband deal” we are now more likely to search “should I switch broadband providers to get a better deal?”

A more specific interaction

The language of search has become a lot more specific as users feel more comfortable asking the questions they actually want answers to, as opposed to phrasing searching in terms that they feel a search engine might respond to. As a result, the use of the term “can I” has increased by 85% – for example “can I use Klarna to pay for Topshop jeans.” Online is becoming even more of a location where people go to ask for advice, such as how much they should realistically save for retirement or what they can do to improve a credit score. “Do I need” is another mobile search term with usage that has increased by 65% – for example, “what do I need to do to improve my credit score.”

Application across all sectors

These changes in the way that we use language for search are noticeable across a very wide range of different sectors. It’s not just in personal finance topics that consumers are looking for advice, for example, as the same newer terms crop up in the auto industry as well as real estate. They are also very common in retail, especially when it comes to consumers trying to make choices about which products to buy (e.g. “which fake tan should I buy”). Given such a broad application this shift isn’t something that marketers can afford to ignore. There are two key ways in which every brand can begin to respond to this:

  1. Reassess your brand’s digital touch points and integrate this shift towards more natural language
  2. When you’re reviewing key words and phrases start with those that are normally associated with your brand and then look at any that might arise in a more conversational situation too

As the way we search continues to evolve it’s going to be crucial for every brand to stay on top of these changes. Find out more about optimising your website for SEO in the changing environment of search here.