Marketing trends may come and go, but the power of reaching customers through search engines never changes. One thing that has changed dramatically over the years, though, is the way marketers develop content to attract search algorithms.
In 2017, search engine marketing (SEM) remains one of the best ways to reach customers who are looking for specific products or services. However, the way brands approach SEM is constantly evolving. Here are a few ways the technique will change in 2017.
More than ever, customers conduct research and make purchases using their mobile devices. This is especially true of the very desirable younger demographic, who are often choosing new multiple service providers and product brands. Studies show that although the majority of all customers conduct research online, younger consumers are increasingly making purchases using smartphones and tablets.
For businesses trying to appear prominently in search results, 2017 is the year of mobile SEM. For local businesses, this means gearing efforts toward ensuring location-based searches include their storefronts, since many customers will be looking for services while traveling around town. It also means creating mobile-friendly landing pages and using paid ads to reach mobile device users.
Businesses often don’t see the bigger picture that is their online reputation. Every social media post, article, product review, and blog post creates an overall picture of a brand that informs consumer buying decisions. It’s important that brands first understand the influence of brand reputation on sales so that they can create a strategy that gets results.
Unfortunately, there are some elements of a brand’s online reputation that are beyond its control. Even the most conscientious business will occasionally see a bad review and little can be done to address it. The good news is, the more information a brand has online about the work it’s doing, the less weight each of those bad reviews will have. It’s important that businesses create a presence on each online review site, encourage customers to leave reviews through in-store signage and links on their social media and websites, and maintain a hefty amount of content across the platforms they control.
In 2017, businesses that aren’t already using schema markup will become aware of what it is and how they need to put it to use. With schema markup in place on a website, a search algorithm gets a better understanding of what a business is trying to convey on its website. The good news is that no special coding skills are needed to include this information on a website. Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper will walk site owners through the process.
Google’s goal is to make it easier for searchers to get the information they need, so they’ll likely continue to find new ways to deliver that information. One way they’re doing this is through the use of Quick Answers, which now displays in many of the searches consumers conduct through Google. If a business can answer a customer’s questions in Quick Answers, it’s more likely to be seen as a thought leader in that area. Schema markup helps with that.
Another by-product of a mobile era is the move toward voice search. In increasing numbers, consumers are using voice search to get the information they need. This also trends toward question-based search queries over the jumble of random words customers tend to enter when conducting text-based searches.
In 2017, successful brands will adjust their marketing messages to ensure they answer the questions customers are likely to ask. “What’s the best pizza in town?” is more likely to be searched than, “best pizza in town.” Experts recommend businesses incorporate a Q&A somewhere on their websites to improve rankings. It’s also important for local businesses to make their locations clear to answer mobile queries from those who have location services enabled. Once a business has made these changes, various question-based voice queries should be tested to check its rankings.
Search engine marketing will always be an important part of building brand awareness and selling products. However, as search engines find unique ways to deliver information, customers are finding new ways to search for that information. Brands that adjust the content marketing work they’re doing will be the ones who beat the competition.
Dan Steiner is a professional writer, author, and marketing influencer. He is an active mentor in the California startup community, and has helped numerous brands grow over the years. Currently he serves as CEO at Elite Legal Marketing, a law firm marketing agency. Dan's published work has been featured in dozens of media outlets, including Entrepreneur, Inc, HuffingtonPost, GoDaddy, among many others. When he’s not writing or speaking, you can find Dan at the gym, backpacking, or volunteering at his local animal shelter.