I’m not sure that anyone predicted all the above. And while Bing has made strong inroads, Google still writes the vast majority of the rules in search. As such, the company will continue to make unilateral changes that cause search marketers to zig when they zag. That said, here are five things to consider for search in 2015:
1) Audience. It no longer matters “what” is being searched. “Who” is searching will become an increasingly crucial part of what is done in paid and organic search. Search marketers need to become familiar with how to create search personas: archetypes that exemplify typical searchers and buyers of your product or service. Build these by conducting stakeholder interviews, doing competitive research and analyzing current search and website data. Work through your findings to develop at least two archetypes, such as shoppers, patients or loyal advocates.
Once these personas are built, use them to re-evaluate your efforts according to your marketing funnel. Personas allow you to better understand searchers’ needs and where they are in the decision-making process. Once you’ve prioritized your personas, you can evaluate your current content and optimize future content-development efforts.
2) Mobile. eMarketer is predicting that mobile paid search spending will surpass desktop in 2015. While desktop CPCs are often still higher than mobile, this is changing rapidly. And the increase in mobile CPCs is more rapid in the areas of greater competition.
Seventy-three percent of Americans owned smartphones as of October 2014, a figure that’s expected to grow by 12% in 2015. Google continues to dominate mobile with its Search app as the #4 mobile app and Google Maps as #5. The lesson here: make sure you have a solid search plan for mobile.
3) Content. As I’ve discussed before,Google continues to adjust how content is displayed and sources cited in search results. For example, Google started displaying song lyrics in search results, with a link to buy the song in Google Play. For the user, the experience is more streamlined. But businesses built on supplying this content will find their site traffic drastically reduced. You can argue the merits of this move, but as Google continues to take ownership of content, you must pay attention and understand the potential impact to your site traffic.
4) Integration. It’s easy to focus on rankings and response, but search also needs to be integrated into your marketing efforts. Users’ search history can be used to buy targeted display media. Search visits to landing pages and conversion behavior can be used as the basis for display, social, search and email retargeting campaigns. Because of the highly qualified nature of search traffic, you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t use other channels to build on your search investment. With self-service tools like Facebook (retargeting and custom audience advertising) and AdWords (paid search remarketing and GDN display retargeting), multichannel integrated campaigns have never been easier.
5) Management. With the increasing capabilities associated with local search, Google+ and mobile, managing search is more complicated than ever. This means that you either have to build an internal team of experts or partner with search professionals. If you go the agency route, determine whether they’re stronger in search or media and match this to your needs. You’ll want to find this out up front, not when you’re already into a contractual relationship!