This time of year, (which is really no different from the rest of the year) marketers tend to focus on search marketing trends in their industry and adjust their marketing efforts to best react to these trends going into the new year.
At Vizergy, we put a focus on monitoring these trends closely and helping our clients stay ahead of the curve in digital and generate more consumer direct revenue.
So what Search Engine Marketing (SEM) trends should you focus on in 2018?
Let’s start at the top. Working with your digital marketing agency to develop a strategy and tactics to address these top trends can help you ensure your website is an efficient, conversion-focused, revenue-producing machine.
- Google Mobile-first Index & Site Speed
- Voice and Semantic Search
- Schema & Featured Snippets
- Technical SEO
- Machine Learning & AI
- Links are still votes for your site
What is the Mobile-first Index?
Google announced that it will be switching to mobile-first index in 2018. This means Google will create and rank listings based on the mobile version of content for each website, even for listings shown to desktop users. Currently, desktop content is indexed and used for showing listings to both desktop and mobile users. So, once Google shift to mobile-first, the opposite will be true.
The best practice in preparing for the mobile-first index is to ensure that your website is responsive, fast and there’s no excuse to avoid doing that in the coming year. Otherwise, your site’s rankings and user experience will suffer, ultimately sacrificing conversions and bookings revenue.
Marketers need to up their game and shift their focus beyond rank and towards revenue.
In 2018, your integrated marketing efforts must span all digital channels. That might sounds like a huge feat, but working with a digital marketing agency that specializes in your industry can make your life much easier, as they already have the experience, talent, software and knowledge to help you succeed in a rapidly changing landscape.
Having experience that spans multiple channels with an integrated mindset, especially on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and media deployment, combined with a conversion-focused mentality, can set your business up for success.
My suggestion is to always start your market planning with a competitive analysis. Ultimately, the goal is not to master the trends, but rather to build a reliable search marketing process that will keep you on the leading edge and bring traffic to your website.
In search marketing, this circles us back to understanding Google’s search algorithms and keeping a close eye on your competitive analysis, using search marketing software really gives you a competitive advantage. What are your competitors doing that is working for them? What are they doing that is not? Can we improve our processes to take advantage of the knowledge we have from watching these successes and pitfalls by our competitors?
Voice and Semantic Search
Voice search is changing the way users communicate with Google and other search engines to find answers to their questions and it is becoming an integral part of the Google experience.
For businesses to stay ahead of this, they will need to alter their website content to speak in semantic terms, meaning key terms will have to be structured in question/answer format. Using a Q&A section on your website to answer who, what, when, why and where, can help you answer these more ‘conversational’ questions.
Think of it this way. Instead of Googling “downtown Chicago hotel with spa”, the user will be using voice search capabilities, asking “what hotels near downtown Chicago have a spa?” or “what is the closest hotel to the University hospital”. This will significantly change the way you might write copy on your website, tag photos and conduct other website-driven strategies.
Some other important items to consider.
From a technical SEO perspective, we’re going to see micro data and schema markup become important for Google indexing.
You can expect Google’s AI to incorporate that data into more rich and featured snippets more frequently for mobile, desktop, and other users who may not necessarily click directly to a site but take action within the search engine on new and more attention-grabbing calls to action.
I feel that predicting user intent so that page content naturally answers a user’s questions is going to be more important as well. In improving user experience, it’s not just about having content that ranks for keywords (making sure that your content is found) but also making sure that your content is exactly what the searcher was looking for.
Ask Vizergy to help you determine if you have the right strategies and internal skills to dominate online or if you should consider outsourcing.
In search marketing, there is one thing you can be 100% certain of – 2018 is going to be an unprecedented year of changing dynamics online and your competition is not resting. Are you?