Technology is changing rapidly, and the tech behind search engine marketing is no exception. Machine learning is becoming a dominant player, and automation has found its groove.  In today’s world, you cannot just create a marketing campaign hoping that it will run on autopilot. In addition to tracking analytics and monitoring your campaign at every step of the way, it is essential to select the right kind. Doing these things can be hard, but with the right tools, your job will be much easier.

In 2018, businesses are committing more than 41 percent of their marketing budgets to digital marketing. SEM strategy and campaigns are the most significant part of it. It is no surprise 2018 is bringing new changes to the realm of paid search. Here are the top trends in SEM for 2018, so you can be on top of what’s happening now, and what’s coming next.

Integrating search results with the customer buying cycle

A significant shift occurring in PPC advertising is using big data to improve ad targeting during the buying cycle. Rather than just running one search ad that targets all searches, you will find ads targeting various parts of the search.

One of the main SEM trends throughout 2018 is advanced audience targeting. The world of search continues shifting its focus from keyword targeting to a more personal approach. Google’s In-Market audiences utilize predictive intelligence that pinpoints users with the intent to purchase a product. Campaigns built with in-market targeting are ready to launch rather than waiting around for your remarketing list and similar audience targeting to grow. They are fully customizable, so use this as an opportunity to reach new potential customers.

This trend continues in 2018, and those that don’t keep up will find their advertising less useful than competitors that put the work in to genuinely understanding their customer’s purchase cycle.

Voice search

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rapid increase in voice search devices leaves many to wonder what this means for SEM. Even though the technology is still developing, it`s crucial to consider a new strategy that works with the voice user. It’s likely we will see fresh ideas on marketing to the voice search audience sooner than you think. Be aware voice search ads are sure to be on the horizon. Begin considering long-tailed and conversational keywords that integrate smoothly into the new technology.

No one has a comprehensive guide on optimizing for voice search yet, and most probably Google will find a way via machine learning to tie in text and voice search so that optimizing your website may not be as critical. Either way, 2018 will bring new tools and tech to this market that will impact SEM.

 

Paid and organic search should cooperate

Many people don`t give enough attention to organic search. Verifying your website with Search Console, and uploading a sitemap isn`t enough. There is a simple next step you’re probably not taking that will help you identify ways that SEM can work in tandem with your organic traffic.

When referring to the more general term Search Marketing, this typically is inclusive of both SEM and organic search.  If you have set up Search Console, linking Search Console to Google Analytics is the next step. This will allow organic impression volumes, clicks, and position to enter into Google Analytics. Next, identify high volume keywords where your natural position is low and focus on these. This is particularly helpful if your campaigns are operating under a tighter budget, and you need to focus on areas with limited organic search traffic.

 

Use Ad variations for A/B testing Ad copy

There is one aspect of SEM that businesses tend to neglect, it’s A/B testing. Google recently announced Ad Variations as an exciting new feature that will enable advertisers to make small variations to ad text at scale.

If you operate an enterprise-level AdWords account where it takes all day to find the ad you’re searching for then conducting exact copy tests is daunting. Continual testing is required to find the approach, ad campaign settings, and ad content that brings the best results. In an A/B test, you compare a variable under the same circumstances to see which works best. You should test one variable at a time to get the most precise results, whether that variable is your ad headline, link, body text or keywords for the ad campaign.

 

Structure AdWords campaigns to match user behavior

2018 is the year that we make sure keywords are classified into niches that closely match the landing page content and the ad copy. If your campaigns and ad groups are a confusing mix of keywords that do not have a connection to each other, don’t be afraid to start from scratch – it may be the best way to set yourself up for success.

The days of publishing a webpage and expecting users to take it as you give it to them are gone. The user experience will improve your conversions and your bounce rate. User experience is not what your site looks like, but rather how it is used. Google analyzes your user experience and ranks your site accordingly. They currently only implement the ranking analysis for mobile search. As the most searches are performed on mobile devices, Google’s mobile-first algorithm will knock you down if your site isn’t mobile-friendly.

Watch for Google to continue boosting the importance of user experience to provide the relevant results. You need to consider some user experience analysis for your SEM budget this year, so you won`t left behind.

Use Bing Ads

Even though Bing continues to play semi-strong second fiddle to AdWords, it is generally ignored in the marketing community. When we use Bing Ads, we import our AdWords campaigns and lower the bids and budgets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, the decision to invest further into Bing Ads and start to tailor your approach and value these searches as much as Google searches may be exactly what your business needs in 2018. Keep in mind that there are going to be similarities in search behavior. However, the users in Google are different from Bing, so developing a strategy for both search channels is essential.

Single keyword Ad groups (SKAG)

The SKAG approach gained in usage recently. Each ad group has only one keyword, and inside each group, you can have multiple match types. The benefit of SKAG is that an in-depth focus on a specific keyword brings you improved quality scores, average positions, and click-through rates. Together, these metrics should promote better conversion rates as well as lower ad costs.

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