It’s mid January. Your marketing strategy is likely to be all but set. You’re confident you’ve incorporated a good mix of channels. But you’re still not 100% sure you’ve covered everything you could…
We asked our team of SEO and PPC specialists to share their tips on where you should expect to focus your search marketing efforts in 2019:
Optimisation of SERPs estate
Gone are the days of ten blue links and a standardised SERPs layout. Instead, Google has invested in SERPs features that better suit the intention of the user and serve content to them in the most appropriate way. Our specialists expect this to continue in 2019 and urge marketers to consider their position beyond #1.
We’ll see more ongoing, real-time SERP analysis, especially off the back of “On the SERP SEO”, with brands focusing on how to improve visibility in all formats. This is likely to continue to change the SERPs landscape and affect the amount of space available to more traditional search features like standard blue links, plus increased pressure from paid ads will see SEOs adapting their strategies in response.
Towards the end of 2018 I was seeing more articles around how images are driving traffic and conversions to sites and how image search is becoming increasingly important for ecommerce clients. This will definitely be one to watch in 2019 – not just optimising images to improve PageSpeed and keyword targeting but optimising images for image search specifically.
Expanded and improved answer boxes from Google mean that providing content to win that sought after ‘position 0’ will be more important than ever. SEOs will need to research the SERP landscape for every individual keyword group they’re targeting and ensure that their content is capable of competing for a range of different SERP feature configurations.
The way we search is arguably changing as we enter 2019. Voice search and personal assistants have shifted how we now search. From being ingrained to group short words together, we’re moving more towards a more human and a question like basis.
Omni-channel certainly isn’t a new concept, but it is a challenging one, especially when you consider measurement and the requirements to serve a consistent experience to users across devices. But it is an important consideration and one which our specialists believe will impact marketers in 2019.
In 2018, many brands started using ‘search for X’ CTAs in their offline media, particularly in TV ads and posters I saw around the city centre. I would expect this integration of ‘organic’ search with other channels to increase in 2019, as larger brands realise that one of the easiest ways to control how people get to their website is to lean hard on unique and branded search terms.
Following on from this, I also think it will be interesting to see how results and theories develop in 2019 with regards to PPC benefiting the performance of a site organically. This will also include any changes and evidence into believing that traffic levels have a positive impact on the organic performance of a site as I believe that this is definitely becoming more and more relevant.
There will be a greater focus on attribution than ever before. 2018 saw the launch of data-driven attribution, but only for high-spend partner accounts. In 2019 the adoption of attribution will be more widespread, with advertisers advancing their analytical skill set to make decisions based on cross-channel trends and gain greater insights to the impact of their campaigns.
The power of brand
Brand has always been important but, being arguably less tangible than other KPIs, the idea of ‘brand’ has somewhat fallen out of favour in the digital world. However, our specialists argue that brand is still as important as ever and will be a key focus in the coming year.
A rise in the authority of brand mentions when compared to followed links and how Google is able to evaluate and reward brand sentiment – reviews, coverage etc.
Links aren’t going anywhere, but the methods for acquisition are changing. More websites, businesses and marketers are chasing after links than ever but I believe creativity is going to flourish even further due to the increased market competition. I expect to see more offline stunts or PR activity designed to drive links and consequent social engagement. Standard infographics will continue to decline in use, but interactive infographics will increase in frequency as free software and design suites become more available, and easier to use. Links will still be hunted like the holy grail but I expect everyone chasing them to get more creative, especially in the offline tangible space, providing real-world experiences and stunts which the brand can then shout about themselves.
Intelligent automation is something we very much champion here at Impression. Where data insights can be used to drive simple decisions, we are more than up for taking the human element out of that, making for increased efficiency and freeing up human minds to be creative, innovative and to make the more complex decisions needed to really push ROI. We see that continuing this year.
Obviously, more automation! However, there’s a definite counter-reaction to this too. Agency-side, we’re already seeing brands moving away from agencies that offer mostly automated solutions. They’re seeking a more nuanced, contextual approach and something a little more individual in order to beat competitors. We’re working a lot on bespoke solutions for individual client problems that blend automated and human approaches – enabling them to run more personalised marketing campaigns specific to their audiences.
To follow / contradict Liam’s point – the rise of the ‘smart’ campaigns. 2018 saw smart shopping campaigns go from strength to strength and smart bidding strategies getting increasingly clever, drawing on signals in real-time bidding auctions that us advertisers, try as we might to layer our campaigns effectively, just don’t have the access to! With options to now create smart display campaigns and responsive search ads which dynamically test ad creative and messaging for you, I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of 2019 advertisers with little Google Ads experience will be able to pick campaigns almost as if out of a hat: one search, one shopping and one display, and the interface will pretty much do the rest – a scary prospect for us account managers!
The Year of the User
While user experience should always have been on the agenda for digital marketers, never has the importance of a positive user experience been greater. And with the onus on omni-channel marketing, savvy marketers will need to really dig into the experiences their users have across devices in order to stand out.
Increased emphasis on user engagement metrics as a ranking factor, and hopefully more insight from Google/tools to improve and measure performance. This will tie in closely with mobile first indexing and therefore mobile UX, page speed etc.
While Google Ads has been predominantly keyword-focussed, audience features are becoming increasingly sophisticated. This, in combination with the more widespread adoption of automation, will mean context-driven targeting (audiences, behaviour, demographics) will be as much a part of campaign management as keywords.