by Aaron Baar, Staff Writer, December 20, 2016
The year is almost over, which means many marketers are deep into planning for 2017. While most media companies are forecasting only moderate overall advertising growth next year, digital ad spending — thanks to investment in social and search — will continue to be an area of continued focus for marketers. As you begin planning your search marketing for 2017, it’s worth paying special attention to these three areas, which will likely see continued growth.
The anywhere/everywhere Web has become more important with each passing year. Most searches are begun on a mobile device and are increasingly using locators such as “near me” and “nearby” to help consumers get what they want quickly and easily. In addition (or perhaps relatedly), Google’s AMP platform will become even more important, as sites that load faster over mobile have shown to rank higher and have higher click-through rates.
Bottom line: Mobile is both the present and the future. When possible, consider adding location data and mobile-friendly information, and Web sites should be optimized to work on mobile-friendly formats.
Given the holiday push for Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, we can expect a host of new voice-search devices hitting homes this holiday season. As those come online, more and more consumers will be using them to search for information and products. The rise in voice search also presents a branding opportunity in the form of “featured snippets,” which include the brand or source of the information being given. According to SEM Post, featured snippets are slightly higher in voice-search queries, and Google now reads the snippets aloud in its answers.
Bottom Line: Search campaigns should incorporate more natural language processing. Plan for questions coming in a more conversational manner, and offering responses with that same casual tone. Content should be geared to answer questions and provide simple information.
As consumers become more comfortable with the online world, they’re bypassing Google for other destinations. Nearly half of all product searches begin on Amazon, “shopper helper” sites like RetailMeNot saw huge sales growth during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, and online marketplaces are the preferred places for half of 35-44 year-olds to do their online shopping. Even Google recognizes that marketplaces such as Yelp, Kayak and Amazon are a threat to its core business.
Bottom Line: Online marketplaces are becoming popular in many industries — travel, financial services and insurance come readily to mind. If there’s one for your industry (as is likely), it’s important to have a presence on it. Consumers using online marketplaces for their search queries are already further along the funnel than those doing a general search. It’s in your best interest to capture them.
To be sure, there will be many other search-adjacent areas — video content, social, virtual and augmented reality — that will warrant consideration (not to mention what a new U.S. administration might do to current regulations) but these three were standouts in 2016, and their stories aren’t nearly complete.