Google’s Top Searches Highlight the Importance of Targeting Organic Queries

Online marketers hoping to optimize their pages for a better search ranking can learn a lot by studying what works. And what better way to examine what people are searching for than by turning to Google’s annual top searches report?

Most Popular Searches

The search giant released its most popular search terms of 2017 on Dec. 13, and the list contains plenty of expected results and a few surprises. As usual, current events formed many of the top searches, with Hurricane Irma, Matt Lauer – the former Today show host fired over sexual harassment allegations – and Tom Petty – the iconic rocker who passed away earlier this year – rounding out the top three. Other top searches included the solar eclipse, Harvey Weinstein and the Super Bowl.

What may surprise many Google users – but was easily predicted by industry experts – is the popularity of “how?” When people search for popular topics, they frequently begin their query with, “how.” Instead of using a basic, “wildfires” or “California fires” query, Google users wanted to know how the fires started, how they are affecting wildlife, and how they can help. Instead of simply searching for “solar eclipse,” users asked how they could watch the eclipse or how they could make protective eyewear.

And sometimes people were just curious. The most popular “how to” query in 2017 was how to make slime. The search returned results including millions of YouTube and Instagram videos dedicated to explaining how to make homemade goo. People also wanted to know how to buy bitcoin, coinciding with the year’s meteoric rise of cryptocurrency.

Worldwide, the top 10 “how to” queries in 2017 include:

How to make slime

How to make solar eclipse glasses

How to buy Bitcoin

How to watch Mayweather vs McGregor

How to make a fidget spinner

How to watch the solar eclipse

How to freeze your credit

How to play Powerball

How to screen record

How to lose belly fat fast

How Come How?

So, why did people ask Google “how” so much in 2017? Much of the increase can be attributed to voice search. According to Google’s Behshad Behzadi, the ratio of voice search is growing faster than type search. And when people vocally search, they use normal, conversational sentences instead of short and direct query lingo.

Google reports that 55 percent of teens and 40 percent of adults now use voice search daily, and the change requires marketers to optimize their content with a whole new keyword research routine.

Keywords are an integral aspect of SEO. They are the search terms that people use to find your site, the words and phrases a potential customer might use. It’s important, therefore, to consider in what types of searches you would most benefit from ranking. Those are the terms you want to target.

Traditionally, targeted keywords would end there. If you want to rank in a search for “wood furniture,” then you would optimize your content with that key phrase. But now that users are searching by voice more every day, SEO will depend more on the natural or organic questions that might be asked about wood furniture. For example, content could be optimized with the phrase, “where can I buy wood furniture?” or “how can I build wood furniture?”

Organic Queries

What, therefore, could be more important than content that perfectly answers a query? Build your content around what questions your target reader might ask that will lead them to clicking your link. Research the questions your customers are asking and provide quick answers and immediate solutions on your blog, FAQ pages and social media posts. Google’s “People also ask” box is a goldmine for question ideas.

Don’t forget, even with longer-chain queries, search engines are still sophisticated enough to recognize if a site is cheating. Make sure that your keywords are relevant and properly match your website, just as though they weren’t search engines. And don’t try to manipulate search results by repeating the same words or organic queries.

Such tactics don’t work and are likely to get your site penalized or even delisted by Google. Instead, try using similar keywords organically to form complete sentences and ideas. Just remember, voice searchers use normal, conversational sentences instead of all that stiff-sounding query lingo.