7 Key Trends in SEO/SEM
Every second, Google processes 40,000 search queries—that’s 3.5 billion a day. Add on all the other search engines, and that’s a lot of people looking for a lot of stuff. No wonder search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO) are the cornerstones of small business marketing strategies.
These practices can change at the speed of a mouse click, so here are seven core SEM/SEO trends you should be aware of now to guide your actions and marketing budgets:
1. Cultivate good reviews
Reviews on Google+, Yelp, Foursquare, YP℠, Facebook, and other social and review sites are key to your search ranking.
“Google wants to give their users the best experience, and it can’t go to the restaurant, taste the food, and get a feel for the atmosphere,” says Michael Juba, a content marketing strategist at EZSolution, a design and marketing agency in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. “So their algorithms look at those reviews from other users as a trust factor (among dozens of other factors).”
He suggests a small business update its business directory listings and work to get great reviews online to attract customers.
2. Get back to basics
“Original, valuable content that teaches your audience something or entertains them in the form of a blog post, video, infographic, or slide presentation is important,” says Tom Treanor, director of marketing at Wrike, a software firm, and author of the Search Engine Optimization Boot Camp. “Gaming the search engines with tricks, creating thin (but keyword-rich) content, or hiring SEO firms to boost rankings through gimmicks will be less effective going forward.”
Google has been trying to steer companies in this direction for a long time, and the winning firms will realize that focusing on their audiences’ needs, delivering content that provides real value, and connecting to them in social media is the best SEO strategy.”
3. The offline/online divide is closing
“Digital firms focusing on SEM are going to have to focus on non-digital advertising and take it into account for their ROI and attribution models,” says Douglas Thomas, the interactive manager at The Marketing Center, which provides SEO and content marketing services.
“YP has been at the forefront of this concept for a while, creating digital campaigns that dovetail with traditional (such as quarter-page ads in the physical Yellow Pages print book) and semi-traditional (such as internet yellow page listings) campaigns that use tracking numbers to focus on determining a real ROI.”
4. Look beyond google
Google has literally become synonymous with online search, but don’t overlook other social platforms in your marketing strategies. “I was lucky to be in a position to take BingAds seriously years ago, when they first upgraded their backend to be somewhat competitive with what existed on AdWords,” Thomas says.
“Over the past year, BingAds has essentially caught up with Google, and their social tie-ins are significantly more relevant for small businesses; they pull from Twitter instead of Google+, meaning that ad spend in organic social is helping SEM efforts.”
Beyond that, month-over-month data show that of all platforms, Yahoo has seen massive growth following its default search deal with Mozilla Firefox, so don’t fixate on Google so much you don’t evaluate other options as well.
5. Eliminating bounce
“There is a small rumbling among those in the know around engagement optimization,” says Ryan Knoll, head of marketing for software firm Report Pro. That means optimizing sites to have lower bounce rates and greater engagement, especially coming off a Google search.
“For a long time, this was something that the SEO industry had ignored,” he says. “I personally feel by the end of 2016 we will have not only on-site and off-site optimization but also engagement optimization.”
6. Getting away from “dot com”
The symbol dot com (.com) means the internet itself to many people. However, there has been an avalanche of other dots besides com, such as .guru, .club, and .luxury. These designations are known as top-level domains (TLD).
“As the general internet population becomes more used to alternatives to .com, and more companies adopt these TLDs, we will see search engines prefer these alternatives for more specific results,” says Vaibhav Diwanji, a marketing strategist at e-Intelligence, an SEO and Web design firm.
“In 2015, we will see the beginning of this trend, and it will carry over into 2016.” Consider this if all the remaining .com names you find seem dull and generic.
7. Don’t delay mobile anymore
You’ve seen endless statistics about how many local customers are finding products and services via mobile searches. This is becoming a factor in search rankings as well.
“Google has not only added mobile-friendly tags next to sites in the search results, but also hinted at penalizing a site’s Google rank for not being responsive [meaning the website automatically adjusts for people viewing on mobile devices],” says digital marketing expert Ken Wisnefski.
“Google wants to remain the number-one search engine, so if more people are utilizing mobile than desktop, it is going to push the sites that are mobile to the top of search results. Companies that don’t implement mobile design changes will be invisible on search.”
Maximize your SEM efforts
YP℠ search engine marketing solutions ensure your business is seen on all major search engines by consumers searching for what you have to offer. YP’s search tools deliver guaranteed levels of clicks to your business, and provides leads to your business with a combination of clicks, calls, and emails. YP search solutions use your website and the information you provide to select a variety of keyword and category combinations for Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising that’s right for your business.
We use a combination of an automated platform and certified campaign managers for optimal campaign, ad, keyword, and bid management. Our SEM tools create a customized online marketing campaign that includes keyword selection, strategic search and online ads, ongoing campaign monitoring, custom URL, website proxy, video, and photo gallery integration. Both programs provide monthly performance reports.
Learn more about YPsearch℠ solutions