6 Google Ads Trends You Should Be Using in Your Marketing

Google Ads, formerly AdWords, has been a mainstay of PPC marketing since its introduction in 2000. Businesses now have access to new tools that allow them to refine their PPC marketing and generate more leads. Make sure your campaigns are taking advantage of the most popular Google Ads trends.

Google Ads, formerly AdWords, has been a mainstay of PPC marketing since its introduction in 2000. A lot has changed over the last 19 years, and businesses now have access to new tools that allow them to refine their PPC marketing and generate more leads. Make sure your campaigns are taking advantage of 2019’s most popular Google Ads trends.

2019 Google Ads Trends

1. Personalization

Personalizing your Google Ads means relying on the insights gleaned from your visitors to refine your ads toward specific audiences. Learn to match ads back to specific landing pages, which lets your visitors understand the relevancy of the page relating to the ad they just clicked. That helps reinforce the impact of your branding strategy, along with your message.

Use tools like geo customizers that pinpoint a visitor’s location or a place they are looking to visit. You can also upload your lists of emails into Google’s Customer Match product to help direct ads from your campaign at specific audiences.

2. Optimize for Voice Search

With 55% of households expected to own some speech-enabled device, voice search must be accounted for when designing your ads for campaigns. When users issue commands into apps powered by Alexa or Siri, they speak in more natural patterns that do not conform to standard keyword patterns.

Instead of keywords, center ad content around accurately responding to user questions. If they ask, “Where is the nearest Mexican restaurant,” ads that highlight Mexican cuisine near their location should be what appear. Clarity takes precedent over conciseness when it comes to voice search.

That does not mean that marketers should abandon keywords entirely. They should, however, focus on longer-tailed keywords that allow for more natural phrasing. Keywords no longer have to fall into a specific pattern, thanks to the advancement in algorithms used by Google.

3. Write for Your Audience, Not Keywords

The Google Ads interface now allows you to drill down and target audiences based on demographics, the reason why they may be making a purchase, and many other patterns. That means leaning less on keywords and more on gearing your ads toward items of interest to your audience.

With the array of tools now at a marketer’s disposal, keywords will decrease in importance, making it vital that marketers put in the work to truly understand what their visitors desire. That will help them design better quality ads that can elevate their conversion rates.

4. Make Use of Smart Campaigns

Google Ads users now have the option of creating “Smart Campaigns.” They simplify ad creation by making it easier for marketers and small businesses to target specific audiences. You include the address of your business, images, and other information into Google Ads templates that automatically accounts for your CTR and CVR.

Google algorithms take over and locate audiences fitting your information. You keep your volumes growing without having to do a lot of hands-on configuration.

5. Gear Ads Toward Remarketing

You can keep visitors interested in your site offerings by designing ads full of products or services in which they expressed interest. It is a matter of adding a small piece of code to your website that captures information about your visitor’s attention. You can use that information to create ads aimed at bringing them back to your site.

6. Tie Ads Back to In-Store Offerings

Localizing your Google Ads can help drive customers into your physical stores. Many people do research online when looking for goods or services. Design ads that feature inventory in your store and whether you currently have it in stock. That can motivate customers to go ahead and visit your store to make a purchase.

Summing It All Up

  • Personalize your ads to appeal to specific audiences
  • Account for voice search when designing ads
  • Think beyond keywords when creating ads for your audience
  • Maximize the benefits of Google Ads Smart Campaigns
  • Build ads targeted at previous visitors to your website
  • Use Google Ads to promote your in-store offerings.

Keep an eye out for more changes to Google Ads that will likely impact your campaigns for 2020.

How Structured Data Enhances Local SEO

Want to rank higher in Google’s local map results? Want your website to rank for voice-only searches? Then you need to learn how and why to add structured data to your website.

Structured data, also commonly referred to as schema, makes it easier for search engines to present beneficial results to users about local businesses. For example, consumers issuing a voice command like, “Find a restaurant near me,” through Alexa feeds back search engine results for places closest to their current location.

That doesn’t happen by accident, just like it wasn’t an accident that this page came up when you looked up using structured data with local SEO.

What Is Structured Data?

Structured data organizes the information in your web pages into understandable and searchable sections. It is similar in concept to taking a spreadsheet filled with data and adding columns with labels and formatting that makes it easier for a user to understand.

Adding structured data to your webpage performs a similar function. Search engines can quickly locate relevant results that match up to a user’s query and feed them back in to the search engine results pages (SERPs). There are several different sets of rules supported by popular search engines, along with two standard vocabularies. Visit Schema.org and Microformats.org for more information about the syntaxes.

The vocabulary from schema.org is most commonly associated with the markup used in SEO web pages. The mark-up can be added directly to the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) used to build your page. Those more technically proficient can place relevant localized business data into page headers using a web language called JavaScript. JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) is another alternative language to use in loading structured data.

How Structured Data Helps Local SEO

Embedding a business’s web pages with location information allows Google and other popular search engines to quickly scan the page for items that match the user’s query. And it does make a difference. Fifty percent of people who looked up a local business on their phone visited it in person the next day. Overall, mobile users perform 60% of local searches using a mobile device.

The key is making sure all information remains consistent across all aspects of a company’s online digital media. Search engines also reward websites that use structured data with enhanced organic search result placement. These features can come in the form of:

  • Stylized search results that include images and other types of visual enhancements
  • Knowledge graphs that contain brand information about a business
  • A carousel-style collection of results made up of a company’s information
  • Accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) that make it easy for users to see relevant details on a business

Applying Structured Data With Local SEO

Schema.org contains many attributes that can be embedded in your HTML to distinguish specific bits of information. For example, adding an H1 tag to the header of a paragraph helps a search engine understand that you’re emphasizing a title or applying importance to a page section. H1s can be particularly beneficial to local SEO when you add phrases like the function of your business (bakery shop) and where it is located (Los Angeles) into the wording.

Common Local SEO Attributes

The following local business attributes from schema.org can be very beneficial in helping your business online. They represent the items most looked for by web searchers. Properly used attributes can attract more local traffic and help search engines enhance your result before presenting it to the user.

  • Email — Allows you to leave a contact email.
  • Location — Provides your company’s geographical location.
  • Telephone — Provides a telephone number to call your business.
  • paymentsAccepted — Lets a visitor know what forms of payments your business accepts.
  • address — Provides the physical address of your business.
  • areaServed — Indicates the area in which your company provides services.

These attributes also assist in voice searches, since voice-only searches are estimated to account for 30 percent of web sessions by 2020.

How much your company benefits from structured data in local SEO depends on the type of business you run. Law firms, medical practices, restaurants, and other organizations that have no problem revealing public information often see the highest returns.

Pulling Everything Together

Take the time to learn more about structured data and the role it can play in enhancing your business’s placement in localized search results. Here is a quick rundown of what you should keep in mind:

  1. Using structured data makes it easier for search engines to rank and categorize your pages, based on a user’s search criteria.
  2. Adding special tags around your business information helps enhance visualizations in SERPs.
  3. Making your information consistent across your digital platform allows users to find you through both web and voice searches.

Leveraging structured data to your advantage helps “future-proof” your content, ensuring local users can find you using any web search technology.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our “Ultimate SEO Checklist.”

How to Optimize Your Site for Voice Search (VEO)

As voice search gains popularity, a new form of search engine optimization has arrived: Voice engine optimization (VEO). Learn how to optimize your website for voice search to ensure your website ranks when prospective customers are searching.

For years, we’ve all been optimizing our websites based on what people type into a search engine. We look at the keyword planner to see how people are typing search queries in, and then use those phrases to match the content we publish. A couple of years ago, people started to open up to voice search thanks to Siri and Google. It was a little uncomfortable at first, but as time went on, people got the hang of it and started using it more and more.

Fast forward to the last year, many more people are using it, and it’s not just for fun anymore. They use it to search while walking, driving, or just lounging on the couch watching the game so they don’t have to take their eyes off the screen.

Websites no longer are just ranked for search queries people are typing in, but instead for what people are saying into their mobile devices. This change in the way people are searching means marketers need to optimize our sites for voice search.

How to Optimize a Site for Voice Search

First things first, don’t stop implementing SEO best practices to rank on Google’s search engine results pages. You still need this because text-based searches still make up the majority of searches and will for quite some time. To broaden your reach, implement voice search engine optimization (VEO). To do this, you need to add information to your site to make it more accessible to that type of search.

Add Structured Data

Google has been pushing webmasters to use structured data for a while now, and one reason is because of voice search. Information included in structured data can be more easily accessed by voice search to find answers to questions people ask.

Structured data can be added to your website using schema or JSON. Google recommends JSON, which requires a bit of coding skills. If you’re not comfortable adding or editing code on your website, then I strongly recommend hiring an expert to implement structured data on your website.

Publish Answers to Questions

Most people who use voice search ask questions. That’s why a great tactic is to add an FAQ section to your website where you answer frequently asked questions about your product or service. This information is exactly what prospective customers are asking, so it’s highly relevant and more likely to be used as the answer.

Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly yet, then this needs to be No. 1 on your priority list.

Many people who use voice search are on their mobile device and in case you haven’t heard the big news, Google is moving to a Mobile First Index. That means if your website is not mobile-friendly, then you will be at a severe disadvantage in the voice search results.


Voice search is growing in popularity every day, and to stay ahead of your competitors, it’s important to set up your website to provide searchers with answers to their questions. This means adding structured data to your site’s content, adding new content that answers questions, and making sure your site is mobile friendly.

By taking the time now to cater to all users (desktop, tablet, mobile, digital assistant), you will be able to take advantage of not only text-based searches, but voice ones too.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.


5 Keys to SEO in the Voice Search Age

Voice search is increasing in use, and many businesses need to adjust their content to fall in line with this new way to search online. Follow these five tips to get your website to rank higher in voice search.

Imagine for a moment that you’re running with a pack of hyenas behind you. As you’re running, you see the road changes ahead. You could stay on the same road you’re on or you could take a shortcut so you get farther ahead of the pack. Obviously, you’ll choose the shortcut… 

Now, let’s switch the focus. Imagine running your business and the hyenas are your competitors. They are coming up behind you quickly. You can continue the same digital marketing path you’ve been taking, or you can switch paths to put your business way ahead of them.

Which do you choose?

If you’re like most, you’ll switch paths, which in SEO means optimizing for voice search.

Voice search is increasing in use, and many digital marketers are adjusting their content creation to fall in line with this new way to search online. Understanding how to do this will help you stay ahead of the hyenas that will soon start to scramble to reclaim lost business due to voice search.

The following tips will help get you started.

#1: Conversational Keyword Phrases

It’s normal for people to type in a different way than they speak. Usually, people will type less than they will say out loud. For instance, people may say, “What are some Italian restaurants near me?” but they may only type “Italian restaurants near me”.

As you can see the voice search includes “what are” and other example searches might include phrases like “how to” or “who is” or “where are.” Start by brainstorming the most common questions your prospective customers will be searching for and create content that answers those questions.

#2: Use Structured Data

Structured data like Schema.org was designed to spoon feed search engines like Google important information about your business. For example, there is Schema code that can tell Google your business name, address, phone number, products, prices, testimonials, recipes and much more. Google then uses this information to create rich search results (ex. search “how to bake apple pie” and you’ll see Directions at the top of Google’s first page, plus additional links to other recipes that include star ratings and even the time it will take to bake the pie. This information is collected using Structured data on websites)

Structured data is also used to deliver information to voice searchers. When you ask Alexa “how to bake an apple pie” then Alexa will likely read the directions that you saw at the top of Google’s search results. That means if you want to rank high in voice search, then you must use Structured Data on your website.

#3: Capitalize on Local Search

There’s no better time than now to claim your Google My Business listing and optimize it.

Be sure you have all of these components in your listing:

  • Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) exactly the same as it’s listed on your website
  • Select all the relevant Categories
  • Fill out your Business Description
  • Add Photos
  • List your Services
  • List your Business Days and Hours

Be sure that all of the information is consistent across your listing, website, and any other online directories. Google cross references your information to ensure your business information is correct and deserves to be listed in the voice search results.

#4: Make Your Site Mobile Friendly

Many voice searches are performed on mobile devices.

And with Google’s new Mobile-First Index, your website doesn’t have a shot at ranking high for voice search if it’s not mobile-friendly. It’s as simple as that.

#5: Use Blogs to Answer Questions

Blogs are perfect for targeting those long keyword phrases that usually come through voice search. For example, “What is the best dog food for my pitbull?” could be a great blog post topic for a business that sells different types of dog foods. What a great time to get your business in front of a prospective customer!

Remember, add Structured Data to the blog post to increase the chances the search engine will grab information from your article to answer the prospective customer’s question.

Putting It All Together

Staying ahead of the hyenas, I mean competitors, isn’t as hard as it may seem. Start by researching to find what your prospective customers are voice searching for, and then create content on your website that answers those questions. Next, add Structured Data to make it easier for search engines to find your information and serve it to voice searchers. If your business serves local customers, then claim and optimize your Google My Business listing. Lastly, make sure your website is mobile-friendly or else you won’t have a shot when people use voice search on their mobile devices.

Want more tips on improving your SEO? Grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.

AI: Why Marketers Need to Look Beyond the Buzzword

Tech trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain have become unavoidable on our news feeds. However, if we move away from the buzzwords, there are an increasing number of real-world examples of how AI is transforming marketing and living up to its game-changer promise.

Here in 2018, it is almost impossible to avoid tech trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain in our newsfeeds. Every headline promises that one of these latest buzzwords will either transform your business, industry or lead us to some sort of tech dystopia where the machines will rule the earth.

In a digital world where everything is exaggerated or sensationalized to get quick hits, it’s easy to see why so many of us are beginning to suffer from tech fatigue. Every new solution promises to be faster and smarter than the one before, but can these technologies really transform marketing? If we look closer, early indicators suggest they already are. But first, we need to clear up a few things.

What Is AI and How Did We Get Here?

Much of the confusion and tech fatigue is caused by artificial intelligence being used as an umbrella term for other technologies such as machine learning, natural language processing, and deep learning, which are a subset of AI.

There is also a great deal of misinformation online about machines thinking and making decisions as humans do, which is incredibly misleading and ultimately untrue. The reality is that machines learn from systems and processes that are programmed by humans, so our destiny is still very much in our own hands.

In marketing, our love affair with buzzwords began with big data where businesses captured as much information as they could, only to discover that they didn’t know what to do with it all. This evolved into predictive analytics, and eventually, we mixed it all together, and new solutions appeared run by those that refer to themselves as “AI” companies.

However, the reason marketers and industry experts are getting so excited about AI is that it’s paving the way for the industry to progress beyond data analysis and advance into data generation. Marketers no longer have to endure the time-consuming task of manually categorizing or describing various types of data-rich media such as voice and video.

For these reasons alone, AI and the subset of technologies it relies on are much more than buzzwords; they are game changers in every sense of the word. Enhanced analytics are already helping marketers to adopt a proactive rather than reactive mindset. How they analyze real-time data from a variety of platforms and devices enables them to target audiences with unique personalized experiences.

Looking to the future, these customer experiences will elevate their expectations to an unprecedented level and become the standard. Amazon’s one-click basket was only the beginning, and we can now order an Uber, secure a Tinder date, Netflix movie, and romantic soundtrack with a couple of swipes. It’s easy to see how those AI-driven experiences makers will quickly gain a competitive advantage.

Email Marketing

There is already a wealth of tools such as Bluecore and Custora that enable marketers to learn from their customers’ past behavior and anticipate what they will buy both now and in the future. But capturing the attention of consumers has never been more difficult.

Many of us awake in the morning and reach for our smartphone to see how many emails we can delete before starting our day. Email marketers across the globe are turning to AI to answer some of their most significant questions; for example, when they should send an email, how they should personalize it for the recipient, and how they can get consumers to not only open the message but respond to the campaign.

According to Constant Contact, the average open rate for retail emails is 12%, and the clickthrough rate is 8%. Unsurprisingly, AI can drastically improve email marketing results by interpreting consumer data and treating a consumer as the unique individual that each is, rather than just a demographic or job title.

Content Marketing

Consumers are creating more data points than ever before across a myriad of online devices. This raw data reveals behavior and engagement trends that enable marketers to deliver relevant content that resonates with their target audience.

Sophisticated technology provides straightforward answers to exactly where loyal customers and brand advocates are engaging the most. The answers to these questions make it much easier to deliver relevant content in the right place, on the right device, and at the right time.

AI tools such as Lucy, which is powered by IBM Watson, are already helping brands transform their content strategies. A combination of cognitive computing and natural- language processing gives marketers more effective analyses to form revolutionary content strategies. Forget buzzwords; these tools are already providing real business results and applications for 21st-century marketers.

The Rise of Voice Search

Although we have invested our time and resources into perfecting the SEO on our website, our digital habits are changing how we interact with brands. The smart speakers in our homes and the smartphone in our pockets are beginning to set us free from the screen to find a company and buy a product using our voice rather than our fingers.

Welcome to the world of conversational AI that is powered by an increasing list of digital assistants such as Alexa, Siri, Google, and Cortana. The shifts in user behavior prompted ComScore to predict that by 2020, 50 percent of all searches will be voice searches.

Food for thought?

As users get more comfortable with interacting with branded content using their voice, businesses looking to regain their competitive advantage will need to rise to the challenge of creating new experiences for their customers on AI devices.

Get on the Bus, or Get Left Behind

As AI and its subset technologies continue to evolve at breakneck speed, marketers should be focusing on the art of the possible and meaningfully engaging with their customers.

There are already countless real-world examples of how legacy companies are leveraging AI with fantastic results. For instance, TGI Friday’s used AI marketing to increase its revenue by $150 million in only 12 months and tripled customer engagement without breaking a sweat.

Elsewhere, eBay has been using machine learning (ML) for more than a decade but has now added AI, and as a result, has boosted its sales volume by over than $1 billion per quarter. These are real-world examples of brands taking an early competitive advantage; how long can you choose to ignore the signs before getting left behind?

Our brief online history is already littered with hard-luck stories from household names such as Blockbuster video, Kodak, and Polaroid that failed to adapt to embrace digital disruption and changes in consumer behavior.

Maybe it’s time for marketers to take AI seriously after all.


How Voice Search Is Changing SEO

By 2020, half of all searches will be performed as voice search. Up until now, Internet users typed what they wanted to find into a search engine’s search bar. Typed keywords don’t make much sense because people know that Google will get the gist of it and give them the results they need. But since speaking is much easier than typing, people are more likely to make complete statements. So, how will this change SEO?

By 2020, half of all searches will be performed as voice search. It’s easy, fast and effective.

Up until now, Internet users simply typed what they wanted to find into a search engine’s search bar. The words people type in are known as keywords, and usually the words don’t make much sense. For example, “Italian restaurant NYC” rather than “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC.”

Typed keywords don’t make much sense because people know that Google will get the gist of it and give them the results they need. Since speaking is much easier than typing, people are more likely to make complete statements, such as “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC.”

So, how will voice search change SEO? Let me explain.

How SEO Is Now

SEO is the practice of optimizing a website for keywords Internet users use when searching for products, services, or information the site offers.  For instance, the website of an Italian restaurant in NYC would try to rank for “Italian restaurant NYC” by using these words across its site.

Besides using the words that searchers would put into the search bar, a site will also ensure it adds content regularly, has active social media accounts, and reaches out to share its knowledge with other websites. In the instance of this example, all of the content relates to Italian restaurants located in New York City.

What Voice Search Will Do to SEO

Voice search is going to change the way content is written and what it is optimized for in a number of ways.

  1. People speak more than they type, so keyword phrases will be longer. For instance, “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC” is what content will need to address, rather than just the “Italian restaurant NYC.” Content may include benefits of eating at a particular Italian restaurant in the city, or it may identify menu items at the Italian restaurant.
  2. Keyword phrases are more specific with voice search. People are more likely to go into detail when they search by voice, so they may say, “I need an Italian restaurant in NYC with seafood and cozy atmosphere.” Websites with content that identifies them as an Italian restaurant in NYC that serves seafood in a cozy atmosphere will be ranked higher and shown to searchers.
  3. Content needs to be written in a way that can easily be spoken by mobile devices. This means articles need to include short, clear statements. Think about how you would answer the question, “Where is the closest Italian restaurant in NYC?” You would likely say, “The closest Italian restaurant in NYC is Mama Rita’s on 21st.” This type of statement needs to be in your content for voice search results to share it with users.

SEO isn’t going to be based off what people type into search bars anymore. It’s going to be based off what people say when they are searching by voice. This means that your content is going to need to change to cater to what people say when they want to find something online.

Getting Ready for the Changes

Over half of all teenagers use voice search already, and more than 40 percent of adults use it. It’s now time to start implementing SEO that will cater to voice search. By the time everyone is using it, you want your site to be ahead of your competitors. The only way to do that is to make your website have exactly what voice search technology needs as well as what voice searchers need.

Want more tips to improve your SEO?  Click here to grab a copy of our Ultimate SEO Checklist.

In 2018, New Challenges for SEO Await

In December 2016, I wrote about search trends for 2017. As 2018 is about to begin, it seems appropriate to look back at how accurate my trend analysis was and peek forward into what challenges await in 2018.

voice search
“Sorry, didn’t catch that,” Creative Commons license. | Credit: Flickr by Ruth Hartnup

Moving into the digital age has left me regretting my tradition of breaking out the new desk calendar during the last weeks of the year. I have kept both daily and weekly calendars for many years; and each year, I would spend an hour or two moving birthdays and significant dates to the new calendar. I also used the time to pause and reflect on what the new year would bring. The blank pages in the calendar were always an invitation to set lofty goals and make large plans.

In December 2016, I wrote about search trends for 2017. As 2018 is about to begin, it seems appropriate to look back at how accurate my trend analysis was and peek forward into what challenges await in 2018.

At the start of 2017, three strong trends/challenges stood out:

  • The imperative for faster site speed
  • The need to put mobile first in all SEO plans
  • The push for secure sites

How have these played out? Did site owners move on these imperatives? What new imperatives await in 2018?

Site Owners Are Still Working on Making Their Sites Faster

Site speed is now a confirmed ranking factor particularly for mobile sites — which is where most of the traffic growth is. If your site does not load in less than three seconds, you still have work to do.

The SEO literature is filled with information on how to speed up the venerable desktop search, but the frontier is mobile. It is a frontier that is increasingly settled by those who have understood the linkage of speed to success in search, usability and conversion.

Achievements are being made. But just as world records will fall in the 2018 Olympics, so, too, will site owners achieve even greater speed in 2018.

To stay in the game in 2018, don’t let up; continue to seek improvements on site speed.

Mobile Is First, It Hears a Voice

The continued growth of mobile is now being fueled by voice searches. Faster than fingers and perfectly adapted for multi-tasking searchers, voice-driven mobile searches will be a major trend in 2018.

Voice search is showing strong adoption by younger searchers, the digital natives, who think off of the box on the desktop.

Highlighted in my 2017 analysis, the need to go fast and mobile is still an imperative in 2108. This has not changed. Mobile is still a fast-hot trend.

The use of accelerated mobile pages (AMP) has been growing, but there are still significant challenges for creating these thin, fast pages for feature-rich commerce sites. The use and applications for AMP will continue to grow and improve over the next year.

Google has recently announced that starting in February 2018, it will be enforcing content parity for AMP users. Some site owners looking for the proverbial easy way out have been creating teaser pages that are AMP that require that user to click again to get all of the page content.

An example might be a news site that gives just a single paragraph on the AMPed page, but forces the user, who wants to see the entire story, to click again.

AMP was developed as a means of creating fast, lean pages — not teaser pages. In 2018, expect to see Google continue to protect the integrity of the AMP initiative by insisting that AMP users play by the rules.

As an SEO Trend, Secure Sites Have Jumped the Shark

A quick breeze through search results will show you that most top-ranked sites are now secure. If your site is still not secure, a pity to you and your impaired search results.

Today, having a secure site is a must if you want to enjoy the fruits of holding top spots in the search results. It is no longer trending. It has gone mainstream.

What New Challenges Lie Ahead for 2018?

For 2018, the question is the answer. As voice search grows, the language and syntax of search is changing. Search queries are no longer just short syntactically challenged typed Boolean strings.

Increasingly, queries are conversational questions: “Where is the nearest supermarket?” This query might be spoken into a handheld device or even a nearby digital assistant.

In response to this new line of questioning, Google now features question-and-answer snippets in the search engine results page. These featured snippets include links to the source of the answer. This is highly prized real estate, and search marketers will be well-served in 2018 to focus on having quality content that answers questions.

In 2018, the changing SERP page cannot be overlooked. Google recently expanded the length of the descriptions that appear in the results to provide more descriptive and useful information for users. This is a key must-do assignment for 2018. Review what Google is presenting in the results page for your key performing pages. Look at the snippet. If it generated by Google, consider if it is what you really want to see. For key pages, give them a rub and scrub, buff them up a bit so that they perform better and watch the results.

From this view, 2018 will be more challenges, but the results will be incremental. It is time to review your individual responses to this changing industry and turn the page to the new year with new, big plans in mind.

Consumer Marketing in 2025

We can see a lot of ways commerce is changing today. Amazon and other e-commerce putting pressure on retail, customer experience trumping brand message, interaction moving to the Web and now moving to the mobile Web. But where is this all going? How is it going to look marketing to consumers in 2025 and beyond?

We can see a lot of ways commerce is changing today. Amazon and other e-commerce putting pressure on retail, customer experience trumping brand message, consumer interaction moving to the Web — and now moving to the mobile Web.

But where is this all going? How is marketing to consumers going to look in 2025 and beyond?

Today’s Trends Played Forward

Yesterday, I had the chance to catch Matt Britton’s session at Voxburner’s Youth Marketing Strategy 2017.

Britton is CEO of Crowdtap and considered to be an expert on marketing to Millennials and younger generations. His talk aimed to extrapolate out from the trends we’re seeing in those cultures a model of how the class of 2025, who’s roughly 10 years old today, will see the world.

From his point of view, the trends impacting marketing to young people in 2025 are closely tied to the socio-economic trends developing today:

  1. The key jobs will be deeply artistic or deeply scientific, and the rest will be automated. So you need to be able to do what machines can’t (art) or be able to program and build the machines youself (science and engineering).
  2. Young people are moving more and more back into cities. “The creative class is now taking over cities, and because of that, the landscape of cities are changing,” said Britton.
  3. Because people are moving into cities, they’re trading privacy and space for proximity and access. This means they need fewer things like cars. He see car buying and house buying both decreasing rapidly.
  4. People in the city without a car tend to prefer to have things delivered. “Amazon is destroying retail,” he said, and a big reason why is that young people are in the cities and they no longer have the car to drive to stores and shop conveniently in-person. It’s just much easier to stay home and have it delivered.

Consumers of the futureThat all will continue to put pressure on retail, according to Britton, but it will also feed into different consumption habits. Living in the city is more experience-based — collect less stuff, do more things. So he sees commerce moving further from buying things and toward buying services or experiences. Services like Ikea’s newly acquired handyman gig company Task Rabbit, or sites like GTFO Flights that let you get as far as way as possible as cheaply as possible.

A Post-Text World? Stick It In Your Ear

So that’s the mentality shift, but Britton also sees extreme changes coming to how people buy as well.

“Will we even need screens,” asks Bitton? “Amazon says no.”

Winning at Voice-Assisted Search

Voice-assisted search came onto the mass market in 2011 with the initial release of Siri. Since then, there have been ongoing improvements and expanded options in natural language technology and experience. A better user experience made consumers comfortable with voice search and increased its usage, further fueling development of the technology and data architecture that makes the information we crave voice accessible.

The Walmart and Google cooperative voice-shopping partnership announced a few weeks ago heralds more than just the first real challenge to dominant e-commerce giant Amazon. It punctuates the growing prevalence and importance of voice-assisted searching and shopping behaviors.

Voice-assisted search came onto the mass market in 2011 with the initial release of Siri. Since then, there have been ongoing improvements and expanded options in natural language technology and experience. A better user experience made consumers comfortable with voice search and increased its usage, further fueling development of the technology and data architecture that makes the information we crave voice accessible. Personal assistants are now a default on smartphones but in the past couple of years smart homes, home devices and technologies like Amazon Alexa/Echo, Google Home, Google Assistant and even Microsoft Cortana (which powers both SIRI and Alexa) have become commonplace in American households. Amazon doesn’t divulge numbers but unit sales estimates for the Echo devices vary from 8-11 million since its 2014 introduction.

People use their voice-activated devices, most commonly their phones but increasingly smart speakers, for a number of purposes. They listen to music, control smart appliances, research products, play games, set alarms, enjoy audio books, catch the news and a thousand other things. Partnerships with other internet driven companies, like Uber, amp up the productivity and use cases for a voice search or shopping experience. Consumers can check ball scores, the weather, flight status or order a car, a pizza, a replacement part or any number of very useful queries. Add context — as in where you are located, what device you are on and a search history and the search utility goes way up. How will marketers pay for that level of relevance?

Marketers need to quickly understand how to optimize for voice search and voice assistants as the volume and share of mobile searching continues to rise. Hitwise says that almost 60 percent of searches currently take place on mobile devices with their tiny screens and keyboards. This makes voice search an attractive alternative to thumb cramps and typos. To date, Google has not announced a paid voice search product but organic results will be in sharp demand as comScore predicts that 50 percent of searches will be done through voice by 2020. Gardner further predicts that 30 percent of web browsing will be done sans a screen. Need more proof? Bing’s market share has rebounded in recent years, in part due to all the Android and Google powered voice searches that utilize their data. Moz wisely cautions that voice search volume is additive to typed search and not to neglect your typed search SEO as it continues to be important.

Search behavior is naturally altered between text and voice. Voice searches take a more conversational approach and are much more specific. Users typically ask a long question to a device where they might type a short string of keywords in a screen based search. Often taking place in a mobile environment and on a mobile device, voice searching skews to local queries. The results also differ. The search result can be returned by voice and is not always delivered with or by a long laundry list of possible search results to scroll through. The top one or two places in a search result will become all the more important, as the goal of a voice search is not to provide options but to provide the best response. THE answer.

As our population gets more and more connected, voice search will play a larger and more important role in commerce. A recent report revealed that in the last 12 months 19 percent of consumers have made a purchase using a voice-controlled device. That purchase percentage soars to 43 percent for Millennials. Marketers and sellers, in particular, should tread carefully. If consumers are voice shopping on an Amazon device in the Amazon marketplace, that closed environment provides Amazon the ability to skew the search results to Amazon products or their preferred partners. It’s not a level playing field. It’s the Amazon playing field and they have the home advantage. Voice assisted shopping can also devalue brand as both searches and search results are often generic.

Many experts suggest that becoming THE answer to relevant voice searches will take a combination of new skills and tactics that recognize that SEO is no longer entirely about SERP position though, happily, it appears that optimizing for voice searchers also improves overall SEO.

What steps should marketers take today?

  • Rewrite your site copy to mimic natural language. Listen in on customer calls or utilize a natural language tool (Question Samurai is one) to help you translate product or brand speak into natural language.
  • Optimize your site for questions including lengthy, long-tail queries that include the Who, What, When, Where, Why words.
  • Create an FAQ page that lists the most common questions along with the answers as well as very specific landing pages for key questions/queries.
  • Incorporate local/regional language as well as previously meaningless hyperbolic terms like “best” or “top” as these tend to be used in voice searches.
  • Use featured snippets
  • Claim your business in all relevant local directories, especially Google Pages.
  • Revise your search results to include a timely CTA with an immediate click (Book Now. Call Now.) to take advantage of the mobile mindset and the perceived immediacy of the need.

Voice search combined with data and preferences revealed by smart devices, wearables and other IOT should be able to take real-time data, add it to voice searches and better interpret our true search intent. Our voice searches should then lead to better, more convenient, more relevant results than typing. If not THE answer, then a closer approximation than our typing reveals.

Don’t wait to consider your voice search strategy. Giving real people real answers to their questions can have an immediate impact on your search relevancy and your business.

Total Marketing: 3 Things You Must Understand About Omnichannel Today

Marketing today happens through a lot of different devices and channels, most of which marketers understand pretty well. But as the channels multiply and merge quicker and quicker, understanding the integrated marketing environment is less about putting the channels together than seeing them as one omnichannel whole. To succeed in that omnichannel, total marketing environment, there are three things all marketers must understand.

omnichannel, integrated marketingMarketing today happens through a lot of different devices and channels, most of which marketers understand pretty well. But as the channels multiply and merge quicker and quicker, understanding the integrated marketing environment is less about putting the channels together than seeing them as one omnichannel whole.

To succeed in that omnichannel, total marketing environment, there are three things all marketers must understand.

1. It Defies Channel Boundaries

Most marketers understand that different channels drive different kinds of customers and different sales. What’s different is — thanks to changing device technology and the emerging world of IoT — channels are morphing all the time without warning.

A great example is the emerging world of voice search. Phones have supported voice search for years, but only recently have people started using it in earnest. In fact, adoption only really picked up steam with the rise of keyboardless devices like wearables and smart speakers.

This trend shows no signs of stopping. ComScore estimates that 50 percent of search will be done via voice by 2020. According to Udayan Bose, founder of NetElixir, there are 10 million voice-first devices being developed today.

That means voice is going to continue to reshape how people search, skewing algorithms toward the simpler search strings used in voice search and shifting SEO away from a text-based interfaces to voice-based ones.

That kind of shift is happening all over marketing, and will keep happening at an accelerated rate. Our sister publication Dealerscope covers the consumer electronics industry, and they’ve already begun speculating about a future where augmented reality is the primary platform people use to interface with the digital world.

2. It’s People-Focused, Not Conversion-focused

You’re starting to hear the buzzword people-based marketing — for example, Seth Garske wrote about people-based marketing in yesterday’s blog post — but this really predates that buzzword. In fact, people-based marketing, account-based marketing, personalization and AI are all moving in the same direction: Toward marketing that recognizes, respects and speaks directly to the individuals it is being sent to.

This is easiest to show in account-based marketing, which uses high-quality data and automation to send different marketing content to the right individuals within the target company. Yes, you do that to get to a conversion, but the activity focuses first on identifying with the individual recipients. It recognizes that understanding, even empathy, will lead to conversions.

Tomorrow, you can hear John Miller, one of the thought leaders on this marketing strategy, talk about the secret sauce for doing account-based marketing successfully.

3. It Takes a Total Marketing Team

Finally, as channels are being dissolved and people become the focus, executing omnichannel marketing is becoming very technically hard. It takes a total marketing team with many skills that have been underappreciated until now. 

Building that team takes a focus on marketing management and operations. The people who can make a lot of different things happen without degenerating into chaos become key swing players, like point guards in basketball who make the scoring happen. Having the right players around them is no different than assmebling a great basketball team (or football, if you’ve got that kind of budget).

All About Integrated Marketing

There’s one place you can learn about all of those topics and more, and it’s happening tomorrow: The All About Integrated Marketing Virtual Conference.

The show has sessions speaking about all of these topics and more! If total marketing is where you’re headed, click here to register today.