Making its debut back in 2004, Google’s predictive search was made as a convenience feature for internet users. Predictive search attempts to guess a searcher’s intent before they finish typing out their query. With Google’s continued focus on the user and their intent, predictive search has become essential to SEO efforts like keyword research.

Within this piece, we will take a look at how predictive search works and how to leverage it towards your SEO efforts.

What is Predictive Search?

Google’s predictive search feature utilizes an algorithm based on common searches to predict a user’s search query while it’s being typed. Then, Google provides a dropdown list of suggestions to the user.

How does it work?

Easy, a user will start typing their query and Google will try to predict what the search will be. Google will not only provide their best guess but also a dropdown list of suggestions that could match your final search results. Although this may seem like it won’t save much time, Google’s research shows that over 3.5 billion seconds can be saved daily by using predictive search.

Not all users find this feature helpful because it can show results that they are not interested in, but it can also help save users time when it comes to their research. Although predictive search is primarily a convenience factor for users, it can also be leveraged to improve your overall SEO efforts.

Utilizing Predictive Search for Keyword Research

In the world of SEO, keyword research is the backbone of any successful campaign. Although keyword research isn’t built by using the predictive search feature, it will help find high-converting long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are very important when it comes to finding content gaps within your website and can help offer possible blog posts and resources within your company’s industry.

How can you start to integrate predictive search into your keyword research? Let’s take a look at DRA’s step-by-step guide:

  1. Type your keyword into Google.
  2. Take a look at the recommended predictions.
  3. Go through the dropdown list and choose which predictions are most relevant to your users and your industry.
  4. Once you have your extended list, use an SEO keyword research tool (such as Moz or Ahrefs) and analyze each result to see which long-tailed keywords would be worth targeting.

Like I stated above, predictive search should not be your main tool when doing keyword research for your SEO campaign. But, it can help find those hidden gem keywords that will benefit your campaign.

(Don’t forget to sign out of your Google account or go incognito before utilizing this feature to get the most accurate results!)

Predictive Search and User Intent

When creating an SEO campaign, it’s VERY important to understand your target audience’s intent. How can you help them reach their goals and get the information they are truly searching for? Are they looking for a specific product? Or educational resources in order to help with the next steps in their buyer journey?

Keywords can often overlap into various stages of a user’s buyer journey and it can be hard to figure out the actual intent without any context. For example, if someone searches for the term “SEO” they can be looking for a number of different things.

  • The definition of SEO
  • Tips for SEO best practices
  • Or maybe they’re looking for SEO services

Looking at the search term “SEO” without any context can be difficult to figure out the user’s intent. Predictive search can help solve a little bit of the mystery. A quick look at the recommended searches can give you an idea of what’s going on in the user’s mind.

Let’s take a look at the above example again. Look at search results for just “SEO” compared to “best SEO.”

As we can imagine, the first is more of an informational search. By adding “best,” this shows more of a transactional search result. Continue to play around with your keywords and afterward you should have a better understanding of whether or not the searcher intent will align with your goals.

Monitor Your Company’s Reputation

What are searchers finding when they search your company online? Apart from business review sites, they are other ways searchers can learn more about your company… including predictive search results!

When a potential client is searching for your company, they can learn a lot from predictive search. For example, the last thing we want to pop up in the predictive drop down is “Digital Reach Agency bad company”. If a user is searching for us and sees bad search predictions, that can only hurt us.

This will signal us internally to make sure we understand how our company is portrayed throughout the web and let us know if we need to do a clean-up. Should we be focusing on review sites and commenting on social media conversations left from clients? The more interactions like this you have the more likely you will start to see positive search predictions popping up.

It’s important to remember there is no guarantee that we can replace all of these negative search results with positives. However, being aware can only help your company as a whole.

Predictive search has been around for over 15 years now and will only continue to evolve in the future. The more you can utilize it for SEO efforts the better. To learn more about how our team can help with your SEO efforts in the future, let’s chat!