Are Predictive Searches More Accurate?
Predictive text is what Google uses to guess what you're going to search for, often starting from the time you type in the very first letter. An "F" may give you the auto-fill option for Facebook, for instance, while a "W" may offer suggestions like "weather" or "Wal-Mart." Google is in a unique position in understanding inherently what people search for the most often, so it can accurately predict what you may be looking for even before you search. This just adds another layer to the process of guiding searches and helping users find the specific information they're looking for, which has always been Google's main goal. The company wants to make sure that every search provides relevant and helpful results, and predicting what users are going to seek out allows for increased accuracy.
Interestingly, there are those who believe that predictive search text is actually more useful than typing out what you're looking for on your own. As SEO expert Roger Dooley wrote in Forbes: "It’s rare that I have to type in a complete search phrase. In fact, Google’s suggestions are often a better way of phrasing what I wanted and likely yield more relevant results."
Clearly, this is somewhat limited. If you were going to search for Facebook and Google predicted it, choosing the selection may be faster than typing the entire word, but it does give you the exact same search and the same results. For longer search strings, though, it could certainly help.
For instance, many people think of qualifiers as they type, so you get a search string that looks like this: "Hiking shoes men orange". The person began with the clear idea that they wanted hiking shoes, then added on specifics to narrow their search. A more natural way to make that same search, though, would be to write "orange men's hiking shoes." In a case like this, Google may suggest the more natural search and picking it may give you a better result. Even for shorter searches, the predictive text may correct spelling errors and other such issues, again increasing the accuracy of the results by focusing on what you're actually intending to find, rather than what you typed.
What Does This Mean for SEO?
If you're doing SEO, it's important to pay attention to common searches and predictions that users may choose, not just the terms they manually type in. You know that the predictive text is likely to see more searches, thus strengthening its position as a top recommendation. This creates a loop that feeds into itself and pushes more traffic toward these terms. While this can mean that competition for those searches ends up being higher, the total number of searches is also higher, and it bears considering as you settle on a keyword strategy. If you need any assistance with this process, our experienced team is happy to help here at Content Customs.