5 Trends in Search Marketing You Need to Be Watching

Search mar­ket­ing con­tin­ues to be a highly effec­tive way to con­nect with prospec­tive cus­tomers who are look­ing for what you are offer­ing.  We rec­om­mend search be part of every marketer’s arse­nal to gen­er­ate aware­ness, leads and sales.

But search mar­ket­ing changes fast and con­stantly. Woe be the mar­keters who take their eyes off the lat­est news.

Here are 5 trends/tips to keep your search mar­ket­ing strat­egy cur­rent and successful:

1.       Google made a mas­sive change to its search algo­rithm this fall

In Sep­tem­ber, Google announced that it had rolled out its biggest over­haul in its search engine since 2001. The name of the new release is Hummingbird.

In essence, this replace­ment of the search engine promises to pro­vide bet­ter results. For exam­ple, Hum­ming­bird improves results for con­ver­sa­tional lan­guage. In other words, Google can bet­ter under­stand and pro­vide improved results for the con­ver­sa­tional lan­guage that most users type into the search box.

Another big change is for PageR­ank– how impor­tant links to a page are deemed to be. PageR­ank is no longer one of the few major fac­tors in rank­ings; now PageR­ank is one of 200 impor­tant factors.

So, how does this change SEO strat­egy? Google says that SEO is about prov­ing unique, high qual­ity con­tent. See step 4 on how to best accom­plish this goal.

Some of the fac­tors believed to drive Google search results. Cour­tesy of SearchEngine Land.

2.       Search is more than Google

While Google is the dom­i­nant search engine, it is impor­tant to diver­sify your company’s paid search (PPC) to other search engines.

Bing and Yahoo are gain­ing mar­ket share. And small and medium busi­nesses are find­ing that click-through rates for these two engines are grow­ing more quickly. In 2012, click-through rates for SMB mar­keters grew 109 per­cent for Bing, 123 per­cent for Yahoo, but only 32 per­cent for Google.

Smart mar­keters who are increas­ing PPC spend are invest­ing more in their Bing and Yahoo list­ings. You should con­sider these other engines as well.

3.      Don’t think just about text-based con­tent – think video

YouTube is now the #2 search engine, with over 800 mil­lion unique monthly users.  And more than 4 bil­lion videos are watched every day.  Accord­ingly you should con­sider plac­ing your paid search spend on YouTube as well.  There is a lot of value in YouTube’s PPC program.

In addi­tion to PPC, your mar­ket­ing pro­gram should include its own video pro­gram – cre­at­ing high qual­ity videos that show­case your story, cus­tomers and products.

And be sure to take these steps in order max­i­mize the return on your videos:

1.    Con­fig­ure your own YouTube channel

2.    Cre­ate a video sitemap

3.    Opti­mize your video pages with keyword-rich tags

4.    Use videos on your land­ing pages

These steps will pay off with higher search mar­ket­ing results.

4.       Focus on qual­ity con­tent rather than link building

It used to be that link build­ing was among the most impor­tant steps to have strong organic search rank­ings.  Abuses by mar­keters, though, led Google and oth­ers to reduce link building’s impor­tance in deter­min­ing results.

Now, qual­ity con­tent is a dri­ver for high search rankings.

And the way to build qual­ity con­tent is through an orga­nized con­tent mar­ket­ing strat­egy. This means cre­at­ing valu­able con­tent (in the form of blog arti­cles, videos, social media posts, pod­casts) that is opti­mized for the search engines.  This rich con­tent will then be shared by your com­mu­nity across email, social media, and other blogs – fur­ther spread­ing its reach. The search engines value  shar­ing and rank this con­tent more highly in the rankings.

Soft­ware firm Hub­spot is a great exam­ple of a leader in deliv­er­ing on a great con­tent strat­egy. They dis­trib­ute valu­able con­tent to their read­ers (who hap­pen to be mar­keters), result­ing in high lev­els od trust and brand equity in the Hub­spot brand.  Plus their unique, high qual­ity con­tent comes up very high in the search rank­ings. Check out the Hub­spot blog.

5.       If you sell prod­ucts, con­sider Google’s new PLA (Prod­uct List­ing Ads) program

In 2012, Google intro­duced paid prod­uct list­ings with images (see pic­ture above).

They’ve had a lot of suc­cess and have already caught up with text-only PPC for CPC spend.

Bing announced that it was fol­low­ing suit with its own offer­ing in 2013.

If you are sell­ing prod­ucts over the inter­net, then a PLA pro­gram is worth exploring.

Search mar­ket­ing changes rapidly with new offer­ings as well as algo­rithm changes. Be sure to keep up with what’s hap­pen­ing– it will pay off big in your mar­ket­ing results.