Happy New Year! Well, almost. You have made it through another year in the always-changing digital advertising industry. We saw a lot happen in 2018, from much-needed changes regarding internet privacy and data collection from the big search engines to Google’s expanded text ads that allowed us more characters to get our clicks. You would be forgiven for thinking maybe you could catch your breath. That is just not the digital world! In fact, there is a lot on the horizon in SEO, PPC, and digital marketing as a whole. And just like with everything that happened this year, you need to not only react the right way to these new updates but actually be prepared in advance.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what industry experts think we will see in 2019:
Longer content will be rewarded. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing to rank number one. In-depth, comprehensive content is what your websites viewers want, and it’s what Google wants as well. Today’s Google is significantly smarter than it used to be. Google’s number one priority has always been to show their user the best result, and now they have the technology in place to do it. Instead of only measuring content, which is how keyword stuffing grew to prominence, Google crawlers now focus on context. Nearly always, the “best” result isn’t a piece of keyword-stuffed content. Instead, it is an article, webpage, or blog that covers an entire topic in-depth. New AB tests and polling are showing that in-depth content tends to rank best in Google.Start optimizing for voice search, now. Alexa, show me what I should be doing to get more page views. Voice recognition software has exploded in the past few years. Is voice search the next “big thing” in SEO? It certainly looks like it. Consider the following facts from Backlinko:
- 41% of adults perform at least one voice search every day
- Voice searches performed in Google are up 35x since 2008
- 20% of all searches on mobile are voice searches
As the trend becomes more clear and shows no signs of slowing down, savvy digital marketers are beginning to optimize at least some of their content and keywords for voice search.
Mobile first isn’t going anywhere, it’s growing stronger. Here is something you may not know: Google now considers the mobile version of your site the “real” version. This is the case even if someone searches from a desktop, tablet, Chromebook, or laptop. Before you get concerned; this move makes a lot of sense. Today, 60% of Google searches are from a mobile device and these searches are growing, not lessening or even plateauing. If you aren’t optimizing for mobile, it’s going to be harder and harder to compete with the competitors that are.
New PPC Changes and Updates
A focus away from keywords and on to audience intent. This year we saw AdWords be rebranded as Google Ads. It’s tough to think anything could be as big a shakeup as a total rebranding and new interface, but 2019 will continue to show revolutionary changes in the industry. How about a fundamental shift away from keywords altogether? Aaron Levy, of Elite SEM, believes 2019 will be the year the keyword dies, as PPC advertisers shift their focus away from match types and terms, and look at context and people. Not everyone agrees, but it is definitely something to keep an eye on.
More automation. Google wants advertisers to use their automated bidding strategies in campaigns, and show this by increasing the number of data points used as part of their bidding strategies. Yes, the days of manual campaign management are fading away, but this doesn’t mean you don’t need people anymore. You should free up time by letting the machines do the repetitive tasks such as bid tracking, keyword variables, or reporting. The humans involved should handle tasks requiring creativity and brand knowledge, like ad copy and campaign strategy. When you can start to automate your PPC efforts efficiently, you can spend more time on where it really counts: wowing your customers.
A Shift in Digital Marketing
Look beyond Google. Diversify your spend and focus. Google is still the biggest dog in town, but far from the only one. The new year will be an amazing time for ecommerce brands to have more opportunities to reach buyers with greater personalization and precision. Beyond just Bing, the second-largest search engine, look into LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Pinterest. These brands are making changes to their ad platforms as well and shouldn’t be ignored. Where are your potential customers? That is where you should be too!
Embrace cross-channel advertising. The internet isn’t a single-channel experience, and so your advertising shouldn’t be either. It has become easier for marketers to build well-coordinated multi-channel campaigns, and you should certainly look into leveraging this for yourself in 2019. Connect the dots across channels and devices and you’ll naturally see much better results due to the fact that people recognize you and your message, something that is particularly helpful when it comes to ROI.
Focus on brand building. In a similar vein to focusing on audiences and not just keywords, your overall digital marketing efforts in 2019 need to be focused on building yourself as a brand, not just an ad that says the exact right words. Far too many SEO and PPC marketers in the past have been so focused on showing results, like CPC and ROI, that they forget marketing is also about creating demand for a product and, down the line, creating brand loyalty. Remember, it’s a lot easier to have a repeat customer continually coming back than to win over new customer after new customer. Digital marketing in 2019 will stop trying to make every click profitable and start segmenting broad strategies by goals that include winning over the hearts and minds of their customer base.
A Few Final Thoughts
Google has had around a dozen updates in 2018 (so far). Google’s updates show that they’re continually getting smarter with indexing and what they believe is quality content. Looking over this year’s confirmed updates, like the mobile-first index in March and Chrome security warnings in late July shows a key pattern- that quality, speed, and security are important. Expect these to continue in 2019 and beyond.
Of course, 2019 will include several known unknowns for PPC and SEO marketers. Without a doubt, we know there will be several new algorithm updates, ad types, reports, and tools, but what we don’t know is exactly what kind. Stay tuned as those occur and we’ll break them down in the upcoming months.
We will end with a final question for you- which digital marketing trends will be most important to you and your business in 2019?