Every day, there’s an average of 3.5 billion searches on Google. And more than 70 percent of buyers are now starting their purchase journeys on laptops, phones, tablets, or some other connected device. Obviously, search marketing holds infinite possibility for marketers looking to reach their target audiences.
But, as with most tech (and marketing) trends, just when you think you’ve nailed down an effective strategy, things change. New tech enters the fold, algorithms change, behaviors shift, and the list goes on. And that certainly has been the case with search marketing as of late.
With that in mind, what are the trends and changes you need to be aware of, and how do you adapt your search strategy to keep pace with this change? While this may be a bit of a moving target, the following are three key trends currently shaping search.
Voice search will require evolve keyword and content strategy
Ever since SEO became an important marketing practice, we’ve all been hung up on keywords - and for good reason. We’ve figured out what keywords matter most and what those words and phrases are that our customers are likely searching. Well, that’s all about to change.
Thanks to voice-activated devices, like Google Home, Amazon Echo, and even smartphones, nearly everyone has some form of Siri or Alexa at their disposable, and as such, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with speaking to technology more conversationally. In other words, they’re likely to ask interactive devices questions and use complete sentences where they previously would have typed a few words into the Google search bar. Because of this, marketers need to begin allowing for the probability of question-oriented searches and longer queries. A collection of keywords isn’t going to cut it for much longer.
Rich search features are reshaping the search experience
Google is clearly regarded as the leader in search, and in an effort to lead the pack and elevate the search experience, they’ve expanded on the rich features that display in search results. Based on the content on the page, Google will determine whether it displays as basic result (basic blue link), rich result (more styling and images), and enriched search results (more interactive and immersive). This is advantageous for the searcher who wants to gather information quickly and not have to click deeper. But it poses a problem for brands. After all, what’s going to happen to our click-through rates and the insights we glean from them when searchers no longer have to click through to find what they’re looking for?
While there’s no way to ensure you get the click, you’ll at least double your odds if your snippet displays rich content that speaks to the searcher’s interests or pain points. And this starts with knowing your target audience on a deeper level. When you do, it gives you the ammo you need to approach SEO from a problem-solving, value-based perspective.
By encouraging SEO experts and content marketers to work hand-in-hand, we can address the challenges, motives, life stages and pain points that trigger a prospect’s search in the first place. Yes, this creates more work and is a longer-tail approach to capturing eyeballs, but it also increases the chances of sending more qualified leads through your site or lead page.
Personalization is paving the way for depth in marketing
There’s no question personalization is important, but it’s even changing the face of search marketing. Today, data from Google, Facebook and third-party research is being used to put together a holistic view of every consumer. Because of this rich data and the associated insights, the brands that win at search marketing will be the brands that can speak to every angle of each customer.
Geotargeting helps us know where customers are, and predictive analytics helps us figure out what they’re going to want. Now, however, it stands to reason that all of our systems will be informing one another about aspects of our buyers so we can better meet their nuanced needs when, where, and how they want them met. And that, again, requires an in depth understanding the customer ––their motives, likes, dislikes, hot buttons, when they search, where they search, why they search, how they search, and the list goes on.
Considering these three trends, it’s easy to see SEO has evolved tremendously over the years. It now requires a much more strategic approach and collaboration across multiple marketing and sales disciplines ––content, branding, analytics, search, sales, customer experience, etc. And it’s only with each of these working in unison that you’ll be able to gain a clear and more focused picture on your target customer, and the unfair advantage when it comes to search marketing.
Search marketing is no longer simply a means to direct traffic to a website, it now plays a vital role in boosting a brand’s image, enhancing its credibility, and establishing and maintaining trust. As long as we pay attention to the evolutions before us, we can strategically adapt - and come out on top. But it all starts with putting the customer at the center of the search marketing approach and championing collaboration across marketing and sales teams.
Written by Tallwave