Google’s search algorithm is undoubtedly smart, but sometimes it needs a little extra guidance to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Let’s say you’re in the mood for some chocolate fudge ice cream. You could Google chocolate fudge ice cream, and Google may provide you with results related to chocolate, fudge AND ice cream – separately. If you Googled “chocolate fudge ice cream”, on the other hand, it would be able to decipher that you are specifically looking for recipes, ingredients and stores that sell that specific flavor of ice cream.
Adding in quotation marks might be a small change, but it makes a big difference in terms of the results you get. This is where quoted searches come into play.
Quoted searches are when a user enters a specific phrase or set of words into the search bar, enclosed in quotation marks. This is different from your average search, which would include keywords that are within the initial search term but not necessarily in the same order or with the same wording.
Google’s ultimate goal is to provide searchers with the most relevant results possible, and quoted searches allow them to best understand a user’s intent. In fact, their latest algorithm update prioritizes making quoted searches more user-friendly than ever. What is this August 2022 quoted search update, and how can you optimize your content for it?
What is Google’s Quoted Search Update?
You might be asking yourself “I’ve been using quotation marks in my searches for years, is this really a new update?” You’re right – quoted searches aren’t a new concept. However, the way Google is displaying search engine result pages (SERPs) for quoted searches is getting an upgrade.
Let’s use the scenario from before as an example. When you search for chocolate fudge ice cream without quotation marks, the featured snippets will bold individual words found in your search term.
Search for “chocolate fudge ice cream” in quotes, however, and the featured snippets will show exactly where this phrase is found within the text of that page.
Previously, quoted search terms were not guaranteed to appear in featured snippets if they were in areas of a document such as a menu or a form. This new update may seem small, it should have a big impact on Google’s initiative to provide searchers with the best possible results for what they’re looking for.
“We’ve heard feedback that people doing quoted searches value seeing where the quoted material occurs on a page, rather than an overall description of the page, says Google Software Engineer Yonghao Jin. “Our improvement is designed to help address this.”
How to Optimize for Quoted Searches
With Google placing so much emphasis on quoted searches in its efforts to show searchers the most relevant results, it’s important to make sure your website is optimized for this update. Of course, it’s impossible to know which word or phrase people will be using in their quoted searches, so how can you ensure your content is designed with this update in mind?
Here are a few tips on how you can do so:
Utilize Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are longer and more specific than the average keyword, making them perfect for quoted searches. For example, if you own a bakery specializing in vegan cupcakes, you would want to use phrases like “vegan chocolate cupcakes” or “red velvet vegan cupcakes” rather than just “vegan cupcakes”. This will help you rank for quoted searches that are more likely to be used by people who are further along in the buying cycle and therefore more likely to convert. Think about specific phrases or questions your target audience might be trying to find in their quoted searches, and use these as keywords within your blog post or website copy. Most users won’t go beyond the first page of a SERP – 90%, in fact – so being able to rank for these long-tail keywords in a quoted search will give you a huge competitive edge.
Optimize Meta Descriptions
Did you know a quoted search will also take into account text that isn’t visible on a web page? This includes your meta descriptions, which appear in search engine result pages (SERPs) under the title of your page. Make sure your meta descriptions are clear, concise, and relevant to the searcher’s anticipated intent. While the quoted search term may not appear in a featured snippet in this case, it will still appear beneath your page link in a SERP.
Limit Your Contractions
Google is very powerful, but with over 8.5 billion searches made per day, it’s not always perfect. Their system will occasionally interpret punctuation as spaces, turning a quoted search from “wouldn’t couldn’t” into “wouldn t couldn t”. Because quoted searches will only match exact words, this can cause your page to not show up in the SERP at all. To avoid this, try to limit your contractions and type the words out fully.
Manage Expectations for Local Optimization
Sorry local SEO pros – you’ll have to wait a little while longer for this new update to have a meaningful impact on local search. At this time, the quoted search algorithm has not yet been integrated with the text found in Google Maps listings. The good news is, Google says they will “be looking more at this area in the future.” While quoted searches may not have a direct impact on your local SEO efforts right now, it’s important to keep this update in mind as you move forward with your local search optimization efforts.
Is Your SEO Strategy Ready for Quoted Searches?
With Google placing more of an emphasis on UX for quoted search results, it’s important to make sure your SEO strategy is ready for this update. That being said, optimizing your SEO strategy for quoted searches might be a bit trickier than the usual update – after all, you can’t exactly control which phrases people will use in their quoted searches.
However, by utilizing long-tail keywords and optimizing your meta descriptions, you can help ensure your website is as visible as possible for quoted searches related to your business. And while local SEO isn’t affected by quoted searches just yet, it’s important to keep this update in mind as you move forward with your local SEO efforts.
Not sure where to start? We’re here to help. Creative Click Media’s team of SEO experts can help you develop a quoted search-friendly SEO strategy that will help you rank in SERPs and drive customers to your website. More traffic, better leads and higher rankings are only a click away – contact us to get started.