This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bing Network. All opinions are 100% mine.
I’ve always been fascinated by the constant evolution of search. It scares me to accept that I’ve never been able to get the full grasp of these changes. I couldn’t sit still.
My career was built on writing and consulting about SEM. I should be prepared for the future. I should know what’s coming next. But, I don’t.
The future of search has me in a constant spin cycle.
Do you feel this way? Bing has 133 million monthly searches. Google hit over 100 billion. That’s a lot to take in. The good news is this hasn’t stopped me (or others!) from digging into these changes.
This past year working at SEJ has allowed me to explore new strategies to help explain the future of SEM. I discovered that I’ve been looking at the future of search all wrong. And, I think a lot of us have.
What is the Future of Search?
I’ve worked on over 100+ SEM clients. The majority of them focused only on increasing their rankings on Google.
This is where I went wrong.
I shouldn’t be focused on increasing rankings in Google, creating more content, or building more links. I should be focused on the user.
In 2016, we’re seeing marketers approach this in different ways:
Understanding searcher intent – Making it easy for searchers to get better search results by personalizing our content to answer queries and voice search.
Exploring multiple search channels – Building a search strategy outside of Google that reaches your target audience on the platforms they live.
Rand Fishkin has an amazing Slideshare on this:
For example, Confluent Forms worked with Michlin Metals to optimize for intent-based search. Confluent Forms altered the meta data and saw an upward spike in impressions, clicks and click-through rate, and position. And, they were even featured in a Google Answer Box. Optimizely increased conversions by 32% for Secret Escapes by matching user intent with expectation between landing page copy and PPC ads.
And, let’s not forget about the other search channels. Marin Software grew Sykes Cottage conversion volume on Bing by 259%. Hello Society increased referral traffic from 3,952 to 16,592 in one month on Pinterest.
All of this is how I now understand search will work in the future. Yep, I was missing the whole point all along.
In 2000, my main channels were paid search and organic search. Fast forward to 2016, to compete you must be on paid, organic, local, image, video, map, social, news, mobile, and voice search.
Whew! That’s a lot!
Does this New Way of Search Marketing Work for Big or Small Brands?
The short answer: Both.
Businesses spend thousands of dollars on PPC and SEO campaigns each year looking for the right audience. Utilizing tools like Bing’s Remarketing campaigns allows both big and small brands to benefit from targeting consumer buying behaviors for better ad conversions with minimal spend. AdWords also offers remarketing ads, so I’d analyzing both avenues before allocating your budget.
For me, smaller brands with a limited budget see greater success on Bing because the cost-per-click has been lower. WordStream also saw an average of 33.5% cheaper CPC on Bing.
In addition to advertising, businesses will also need to adapt to the new way users are searching. According to comScore, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. Voice search uses a more natural tone, which changes the search results.
Tech Goliaths like Microsoft, Apple, and Google, are focusing on new digital assistants, like Cortana. Cortana (iOS, Android, Windows), has already seen 2.5 billion questions asked globally. Pretty crazy, huh? Digital assistants are transforming how searchers use mobile. Searchers are bypassing Google search and using apps or voice search for their queries.
This means more opportunities for marketers to influence consumers and measure the impact of search on other channels.
It seems to me that the next generation of search will rely on helping businesses personalize their brand to reach a very niche audience. There is a whole new side for SEM marketers to explore — and potentially some awesome benefits, too!
Brands can expand their reach by utilizing multiple search engines.
The content based on user intent and conversational language will have a greater impact.
Investing in personalized ad campaigns can bring in higher conversions.
For all the work we do with perfecting our strategies, perhaps these coming years bring us the opportunity to engage on a deeper level more meaningful level, not only with our audience but with our brands too.
I’d love your thoughts on this! Feel free to discuss in the comments or on Twitter.