As 2018 draws to a close, it’s a perfect time to take stock of what has changed over the past year in the world of doing business online. As far as showing up in online searches—the bread and butter of online business—the all-important keyword search has evolved quite a bit. Here are 4 ways keyword search is evolving going into 2019, and what your business can expect in future.
Keyword search from yesterday to today
For a while, keywords reigned supreme in the world of online searches. Five years ago is almost an eternity in the world of tech, and back then it was common to see online content like blog posts packed with keywords. A ‘more is better’ approach dominated: if you wanted to raise your ranking on a search for ‘best marketing companies’, a lot of marketers would pack a page with those exact words.
In the past few years, search companies—particularly Google—moved away from keyword search towards something more sophisticated. SEO has had to evolve, too. The more sophisticated approach has taken search beyond keywords, using algorithms to better parse the intent of the searcher and the credibility of the source.
For example, as of a few years ago, users searching on mobile would see different results than those at a desktop or laptop. The logic is that a user on the go would have different needs than someone at home or the office, and the search results would reflect that. Today, Google’s more advanced search algorithms look at factors like internal and external links in a given piece, and the credibility of those secondary sources.
Keyword search in 2019
Here are 4 trends that have been solidified by 2018, and which you can expect going forward.
1) Long-tail keywords
Marketers have responded to these changes a variety of ways, including prioritising long-tail keywords in a way that wasn’t done as much years ago. As I recently pointed out, ‘long-tail’ keyword searches aren’t in the top 100 most searched-for terms, but in 2016, they comprised 70% of online search traffic. A Forbespiece from a few months ago pointed out that optimising for long-tail keyword searches is now ‘a must’more than a mere recommendation.
2) Prioritise context
In the past few years, web companies have found themselves under pressure to crack down on spammers, bots, and other disreputable entities online. As a result, tech giants are more committed than ever to prioritising contextual factors that indicate a high reliability and trust from users. This means links to a page, time spent on a page and low bounce rate, and other factors that indicate good, authentic content. As I said in a recent post, now more so than ever, the best way to look relevant and trustworthyis to berelevant and trustworthy.
3) New SERPS Features
In 2018, Google has caused a lot of frustration for a lot of firms through their dominance of their search engine result pages (SERPs). While Google has always tweaked their algorithms periodically, the past year has seen changes that have caused some to even declare the end of SEO. The doom and gloom pronouncements come from many Google SERP features which it has emphasised the past year, like Google News Headlines and feature snippets which have taken over the first Google page after a user hits enter.
As a result of Google’s emphasis on these features, many firms have seen their search rankings drop. For instance, certain companies may be getting hit because they are being forced down by news results. There are several ways around these drawbacks. Paying for Google ads is one. But if you want to stay on top of your keyword search, one solution is to optimise the format of your content for these changes.
4) Cross-channel Marketing Campaigns
Data fragmentation has been one of the bigger buzzwords of 2018. Many marketers and firms doing business online are complaining that the proliferation of different channels is making their work more difficult. Some trends are heavily weighted towards the B2C world, like the increasing reliance on social media among millennials. But there are plenty of areas which apply equally to both the B2B and B2C realms, like the increasing importance of re-engagement to retain customers.
In 2019, given the trend for proliferating channels, it will be ever more important to maintain a unified brand voice, coordinate across channels and use marketing automation software to integrate your various channels.
B2B firms doing business online know the importance of keyword search. Although the nature of online content marketing is always changing, you will be ahead of the competition if you know what’s coming in 2019!