SEM Trends 2020 - The most important trends from Namics.

This interview will tell you everything you need to know about SEM for 2020.

Kanika: According to the Digital Marketing Monitor, only eight percent of those surveyed see themselves as digital leaders. Why do you think that companies in the DACH region are lagging behind in terms of digitization and what influence does this have?

Aphrodite: Many companies tend to implement digital trends in a rather cumbersome way simply because of the size of the company. Strict hierarchies and prescribed approval loops make work in the operative area more difficult. In addition, many are used to thinking in silos: Different departments do not exchange information and there is no uniform, comprehensive digital strategy. 

The industry also plays a role: in the B2B sector, some companies fail to make their own website responsive. Many mistakenly believe that they have no mobile traffic. But since March 2018 and the Mobile First Index Google Update, responsive design is a must if the site is to rank well. In the financial sector, it is rather outdated and self-developed CMS that make digital transformation more difficult.

 

Im Interview: Aphrodite Rantou, Senior Campaign Manager, mit Kanika Kundra, Consultant
In the interview: Aphrodite Rantou, Senior Campaign Manager, with Kanika Kundra, Consultant

Kanika: What are the most common challenges you face when working with companies in the field of search engine marketing? How can you avoid them?

Aphrodite: Especially in the field of search engine marketing many people have only superficial or outdated knowledge. Some companies only understand SEO as keyword research and leave technical aspects completely out of consideration. Often companies use SEA and SEO only separately via different teams. However, valuable synergies are lost in this way. Companies also often use very generic or even wrong keywords for their SEA campaigns, which generate many clicks but no conversions. This can be expensive. 

For us, therefore, the following applies: First of all, we must give our customers a better understanding of search engine marketing in workshops, training courses or webinars. Only then can they make the right decisions.

Some companies consider SEO to be a short-term measure - and only focus on appropriate actions in the concept phase or before a relaunch. In reality, it takes a few weeks to months before major successes become visible. In addition, search engine optimization must be sustainable - after all, Google regularly changes its algorithm and the competition never sleeps. A permanent strategic development and the permanent critical measurement of success are therefore mandatory. In order to increase website authority - i.e. the quantity and quality of backlinks - and brand awareness, further measures are needed. For example one should...

...constantly supplement your own content

...further develop the website technically, i.e. optimise loading times and mobile performance

...build thematically relevant backlinks on highly visited websites

Kanika: More than half of the companies are engaged in SEO, slightly less in SEA. How can companies best combine the two measures in search engine marketing?

Aphrodite: It definitely makes sense to rely on both measures, because this way you maximize your Search Share of Voice. This means your company will be seen frequently on Google - and achieve prominent status. 

According to a study by Nielsen Research, the company gets 30 percent more clicks if the brand appears in both organic rankings and paid. This is called the Mere Exposure Effect: Through the repeated perception of something that was initially assessed as neutral, over time it is positively evaluated by the user. Here are my eight tips for a perfect interaction between search engine optimization and search engine advertising:

  1. Use SEA to make your brand known: Especially when starting out in a new market or business segment, you can use SEA to create brand awareness among users. Search engine advertising is also ideal for lead generation.  SEO is then useful in the next steps of lead nurturing.
  2. SEA is especially relevant for seasonal and temporary offers, SEO is more relevant for long-term, so-called "evergreen themes". Search engine optimization can benefit greatly from selective SEA campaigns. SEA measures can be easily and quickly placed - and take effect immediately.
  3. SEA also serves as a remarketing or conversion channel. Users who click on paid ads are usually already very far in their customer journey - and therefore basically ready to buy. Companies can use SEA for remarketing if a user shows a high level of commitment to the organic channel - for example, through a long retention period, a high number of pages per session or products reserved in the shopping cart - but has not converted. A study by Wordstream proves this: For keywords with a high commercial search intention, users click on paid ads almost twice as often as on organic search results. In other words: 64.6% of users click on Google ads when they want to buy an item online!
  4. Use SEA for quick success: If companies do not have enough know-how, budget or employees for the long-term search engine optimization of an entire website, SEA is an attractive alternative. You just create an SEA campaign and create some landing pages for it, which you optimize for the search engine. With SEA, companies advertise precisely in a desired target region and thus save budget and time.
  5. Rely on a comprehensive keyword strategy for SEO and SEA: Use rather commercial keywords in the SEA area. With SEO, information-based keywords make more sense.
  6. Combine insights from two data sources: With SEA you can measure how effective the chosen keywords and snippets are based on clicks and conversions. Supplement these insights with KPIs from the Google Ads Search Query Report and Google Search Console. This will help you understand the behavior of your target group even better.
  7. Supplement your SEA snippet with sitelinks to search engine optimized landing pages. This is free and useful.
  8. Use SEA for damage limitation: If your website is about to be relaunched or Google has made an update, there is a risk that your site will rank worse for the time being - despite search engine optimization. With Search Engine Advertising you can bridge the lost organic traffic.

Kanika: What goals do companies pursue in your experience with search engine marketing?

Aphrodite: The goals differ in part strongly and depend on the industry, the products and the users. First of all, many companies are concerned with brand awareness. They achieve this by maximising their online prominence on Google. It is measured by visibility and site impressions in the search engines as well as the search volume of the brand.

In the next step, the companies are concerned with generating interest in their own products and services. This is achieved with a trustworthy website, an optimal user experience and high-quality content. The corresponding KPIs are additional search traffic and positive user signals.

According to this, both new and recurring traffic should be created. The goal is a stable traffic on the website and positive user engagement.

In the last phase, companies are concerned with ROI, measured by conversions and generated sales. The customer needs must be satisfied. Important elements here are an optimized check-out process as well as after-sales support through guidebook articles or product manuals.

Ultimately, SEM is all about more traffic, more leads, more sales - and all this at a reasonable price and on a sustainable basis.

Kanika: A third of the respondents of the Digital Marketing Monitor think that it takes too long for SEO to achieve visible results. At what point does SEO improve the ranking position and which factors play a role?

Aphrodite: It is not true that SEO measures generally take a lot of time. There are also valuable quick wins in search engine optimization that lead to significant improvements within a few weeks. Here are my tips:

  • Optimize SERP snippets for pages that already have many impressions.
  • Repair faulty backlinks and win new backlinks through Link Reclamation. This means: You will find unlinked Brand Mentions on the net and ask the respective webmasters to turn them into links. 
  • Correct error messages and remove links to redirects. This way your website loads faster and the user experience improves.
  • For faster loading speed, it also helps to automatically compress images via GZIP and increase caching for statistical assets.

Of course, you can't say in general how long SEO takes. The first step is the status quo analysis in an audit. This is how we determine the current SEO performance and define the necessary measures based on it. 

For example, if the website meets 30 percent of the possible SEO potential, even small repairs and keyword optimizations of a few selected pages will lead to quick success. On the other hand, if a website is technically clean and convincing with high-quality and keyword-optimized content, companies can start building links. 

The decisive factor is therefore which construction sites are available and how complex the resulting measures are. The following questions are also essential:

  • Has the site been punished by Google in the past? 
  • Are the SEO strategies implemented by the appropriate interfaces - for example IT, UX and editorial?

The effort for SEO is very high, especially in the first months, but can be reduced over time - this is called SEO maintenance.

Kanika: Let's dare to take a look into the future. What SEM trends should companies be focusing on in 2020? And what will search engine marketing look like in ten years?

Aphrodite: In my view, the following trends are important for companies next year:

  • Local Search: Locally optimised search results close to the user are gaining in importance - not least due to developments such as ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline), devices such as Google Home and smartphones and the corresponding applications. 
  • Cross Channel: Search engine marketing increasingly functions as an interface between IT, editorial, PR and social media. Here it is important to implement a comprehensive SEO strategy across all channels. The boundaries between social media and SEO are also gradually disappearing. This is confirmed by the search engine YouTube or the search function on Facebook.
  • Branding and Reputation Management: Since the algorithm update EAT in August 2018, Google has placed a higher value on the reputation of the page owner. This can be influenced by link building, influencer marketing, positive brand mentions and review management - i.e. the handling of user ratings.
  • Universal & Voice Search: New verticals, multimedia, especially through Pinterest and YouTube, visual search will also become very important.
  • Mobile & Speed First: The "on-the-go mentality" is becoming more important than ever. Developments like Mobile First, AMP, the Google motto "Survival of the Fastest" or the Google Speed Update in July 2018 show how important mobile optimization and speed are.

In addition: Content is still King. Not only pure flow countstext, but also multimedia content. Because of voice search, the content should also answer relevant questions and contain structured data so that the search engine can understand the content even better. Integrated content will remain important in the future. And what we currently call long-tail keywords, i.e. keyword combinations of three to four words, will probably be even longer. Trends such as voice search contribute to this.

In ten years, thanks to Big Data, we will be able to respond even more specifically to the needs of the respective target group. An even more personalized search will present users with the corresponding individual content based on their Google history. Personalised intelligent search assistants such as Siri show in which direction search behaviour is developing.

Artificial intelligence is likely to make the Google algorithm even more stringent: the search engine is becoming increasingly intelligent through machine learning and deep learning, so that tried and tested SEO tricks no longer work at all.

In general, I see a trend away from SEO towards UEO, which means User Experience Optimisation.

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