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As online experiences become increasingly relevant, convenient, and engaging, car shoppers (like all shoppers) have begun to change their search behavior. People want information that’s more relevant, specific, and personal to their experience. They want to cut down on time spent on the general and generic. With that, we see the rise of personal searches in automotive SEO.
Personal search involves, naturally, a query about something relating to the individual. In the past however, these have been phrased in a way that separated the user from the topic.
For example: “How much protein should you eat?”
This is a question probably asked by someone who wants to find out the general amount of protein that they should be eating. That’s the search intent — the motivation behind their decision to make that search.
However, as the experience and results of searching both improve, and the devices with which we do most of our searching become more ingrained in our everyday lives, search becomes a more personal experience.
Now, when users wonder what amount of protein they should eat, they’ll likely search “How much protein should I eat?” It might seem like an incredibly minor difference in syntax, but it leads to significant personalization of the search results. We’ll demonstrate this in the next section with a detailed example (and screenshots).
Personal searches and voice searches are closely linked — in fact, they’re a crossover hit.
Technological ability has recently caught up with hype, and voice-command-capable devices have taken off. In fact, voice recognition is now significantly faster and more accurate than a human at producing text on a mobile device. Asking a question to your mobile device is actually faster than trying to type it in.
That’s leading to an increase in conversational queries — search queries that follow conversational, spoken syntax rather than the artificially shortened queries we usually type on our mobile device.
Location-based searches are phenomenal, and one of the most beloved tools on Google. When combined with personal search, we get “near me” searches. This allows users to quickly and easily locate businesses nearby that will best fulfill their needs.
Dealers already know the importance of their Google My Business pages — the SEO king for location-based, and particularly local location-based searches, so let’s move on to find out:
Google’s algorithm recognizes semantic differences between personal and impersonal searches with increasing skill and specificity, and modifies the results accordingly.
When we try searching with our slightly outdated term “how much protein should you eat?”, we get these top results:
The featured snippet gives a generic answer, and the top result is the same web page as the featured snippet — with some commonly asked questions in between.
However, our search results change when your search becomes more personal. Here are the results for “how much protein should I eat?”
Note that though the featured snippet is the same, now, there are specific options that allow the user to immediately find a more customized answer. The top result has also changed to an article that is again driven by the desire for more personalized information.
With such a high level of convenience, is it any wonder personal search is so popular? Google reports record growth of personal searches. In the two years alone, they found:
60% growth in mobile searches for “__ for me”.
80% growth in mobile searches for “__ should I __”
This massive growth and adoption is a result of a change in how users perceive search (even search engines). This shift in attitude is summarized neatly by Lisa Gevelber:
“What should I get for lunch?” is something a person once would have asked a friend or coworker. Now it’s something they also ask of search. — Lisa Gevelber, Think by Google
All of this is yet another example of the growing power of search intent in automotive SEO. Google’s algorithm is continually adapting to try to respond to the user’s intent when they search, and so the answer to this trend is to be the provider of that relevant response. Understand that you will rank differently for personal searches and use this to your advantage.
To make this step extra easy for you, we’ve included Google’s top 16 personal automotive-related search terms:
We love data, we love the internet, and we love car shoppers — so naturally we’re infatuated with any tool that gives us all three in one neat package. Once again, Google provides that with Think With Google.
Here are the top 16 automotive personal search terms from Google:
The above 16 terms are essentially a guide for your audience’s top personal automotive concerns. Use them.
You now have the questions that car shoppers and service customers are asking. Make sure that every aspect of your marketing that touches on SEO (just about all of it) answers these concerns.
Looking at the number of service-related queries, you could try to steer your marketing to answer these personalized service concerns. Likewise, think about your own site and the potential for optimizing your pages for personal search.
As with any growing trend in search, the dealerships who will reap the benefits are the ones who are always looking for the edge. When it comes to automotive SEO, personal searches are an edge.
Remember the bigger picture. Though it might seem like a simple shift in semantics, these don’t happen without a reason. This is occurring because shoppers are anticipating a better (and specifically, more personal or customizable) experience when they use that term. If you want to truly take your automotive SEO (and your dealership) into the future, as always, you’ll have to deliver and exceptional customer experience.