By Gifford Morley Fletcher, Head of Strategy, Inbound Marketing, Base One.
Search marketing is constantly evolving and it is crucial for search marketers to keep up with the latest developments and identify new opportunities to improve their clients’ rankings.
Even after 10 years the pace is not slowing, with 2009 seeing strong competition between the main search engines, and the development of new tools influencing search results and methods.
To keep up in 2010, here are 10 areas to focus on:
1. Pay for performance
In a well-managed search campaign, performance is measured from start to finish, from search term to lead or sale, making it possible to quantify the ROI accurately. In the current climate, marketing budgets are being spent extremely carefully, so propose sharing the risk with clients and working on a performance basis. This approach is a great door-opener and can lead to increased revenues – there is potentially no limit to a cost per sale model!
2. International Search
Many clients have sites hosted on a central CMS and are trying to target several countries, but having problems ranking locally. ‘The US site ranks above the UK site in UK searches, and the French site isn’t ranking at all’ is a common cry. Useful Google tools are not, on their own, enough to help differentiate sites based on country targeted. Over the last year, there has been extensive discussion on this issue within the Search community, and 2010 should see some reliable, effective solutions.
3. Local Search
2010 will be the year when locally targeted search really takes off. As search engines get better at identifying searchers’ locations, they can focus more on serving local search results first. In both SEO and PPC campaigns, it will therefore be more important than ever to optimise for location-based information.
4. Social Media’s influence on search
2009 saw the rise of Social Media. However, don’t forget that many Social Media tools grew out of search and link-building needs. The two remain closely inter-reliant. So, when thinking search, think Social Media too, and vice versa. Social Media content should target relevant search terms and link back to the client’s site. Any Search strategy should take Social Media into account, as a way of identifying target keywords and a source of additional traffic.
5. Video search
Video has been around for a while, but remains as important as ever, with video content even easier to produce and upload. Remember, a page with video can theoretically be indexed twice.
6. Mobile search
We’ve been talking about it for a long time, but in 2010 mobile search will start to generate significant results for businesses. The rise of the iPhone and subsequent improvement in competitors’ mobile search solutions means there is now a significant audience regularly using their mobiles to search. Google already allows you to target mobile search with your PPC, and the next step is to think mobile search whenever you build a campaign.
7. Live search
Live search is the first influential approach to search that didn’t originate from the ‘big 3’ (Google, Yahoo, Microsoft), but from newcomer, Twitter. Its real time nature meant that search results had to be always up to date, so in Google this now consists of an option to search for the ‘latest’ results. Live search has been much discussed within the Search community, chiefly due to fears that it would be easier to influence results, ‘spamming’ keywords over a short period of time. Some already predict its demise, but I believe it’s here to stay.
For a long time, flash was the arch enemy of search, and Search Engine Marketers tried to persuade their clients to replace expensive, all-singing, all-dancing flash sites with simpler, crawlable non-flash versions. Finally in 2008, Google announced that their spiders could now ‘read’ the content within a flash file. Now the challenge and opportunity is to define SEO best practice for flash sites.
9. Vertical search
Another term that has been bandied around forever, but hasn’t really taken off. Watch out for additional vertical search offerings from the Big 3, above all in Social Media search, which is currently dominated by smaller players such as Social Mention and Ice Rocket.
10. The rise of the competitors: Bing and Yahoo
The UK Search Market is dominated by Google (currently 91% market share), but don’t discount Bing and Yahoo, especially as Microsoft and Yahoo develop their relationship. Many PPC experts confirm that both often deliver surprisingly well on a CPA basis, and Bing is slowly but surely gaining market share – 20% growth in the US, and a more modest 4% growth in the UK. If you’re not already optimising for these two, 2010 is the year to do it.
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