The Underlying Implications of Suggested Search

By Paige Payne | Feb 4, 2010
More Articles by Paige


When on the topic of Google’s suggested search feature, typically a majority of the conversation focuses on the shock and [insert adjective that has nothing to do with anything useful/intelligent] effect suggested search results can have. Some examples you are probably already familiar with, or that you may want to check out are those such as Mashable’s Top 10 Funniest Google Suggests Results or perhaps Funny Google Suggest results: Who searches Google for this stuff? | Xatal.

Often, suggested search results (like the ones below that I found on Xatal’s blog) leave us with a similar thought:

is google

Maybe we, the end users, do all too often fall victims to the coined phrase:

google it

Whatever the case may be, believe it or not the Google Suggest feature can actually provide some great insights for PPC.

Let’s perform a simple suggested search.  If you open up Google.com and start typing in “why” without adding a space, you will see that the first Google suggestion on the list is “why do men have nipples.” Now, the full list of Google Suggest results is so offensive I couldn’t bring myself to put the screen shot on the company blog.  But if you enter the top Google Suggest result “why do men have nipples” into the Google AdWords External Keyword Tool, you’ll see that there is significant search traffic on the phrase.

why do men have nipples

According to the tool, there were roughly 90,500 people locally that searched the exact query “why do men have nipples” in a month.  Now I realize how inappropriate people can be when searching online, but I have a hard time believing that some 90,500 people would have performed that exact query in the month of December without the guidance of suggested search.  What am I suggesting?

The Underlying Implications of Suggested Search

As demonstrated, Google suggestions appear to have a strong influence on end users by affecting the total number of unique search queries entered and ultimately shaping the way people search.

How does this impact a AdWords PPC advertiser?

Suggested search indirectly inflates search volume for the suggested set of keyword phrases (and yes believe it or not, some are reasonable).  For the reasonable Google suggestions:

  • Not only is the search volume reflected in the external keyword tool, but…
  • Advertisers who use the external keyword tool to generate a PPC keyword list proceed to add these keywords into their accounts.
  • The higher the number of advertisers bidding to display ads for a certain keyword, the higher the competition level for these keywords.  Increased competition increases the minimum bid required to maintain a certain performance level.

End result:  the cost per click for these keywords highlighted in Google Suggest results gradually increases.

How to use Suggested Search to your advantage?

  1. Make you account more efficient by mining for suggested search negatives at the keyword level. Example - Say you have a severely under-performing broad or phrase match keyword in your account.  Typically you turn to search query reports for an answer. The problem is that SQR’s will usually only show you the search queries that resulted in clicks, and usually the search queries from clicks probably seem targeted.  Suggestion: Most likely, if you take the under-performing keyword and type it into your Google search bar, you will find the root of your problem may stem from suggested search.
  2. Be mindful of the funneling effect suggested search can have and incorporate relevant suggested search wording into ad copy and land page messaging.

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