Staying abreast of digital marketing trends is critical when it comes to designing campaigns that have maximum impact. With that in mind, the 90octane Audience Engagement Team has compiled a 2017 trends forecast for search, social and media. Below, in the first installment, are insights into the trends to watch when it comes to paid and organic search.

pixabay stock image - 2017 trends blog

Paid Search

1) Better and More Personal Targeting

Historically, paid search has lagged behind social and display media when it comes to targeting capabilities.

Yet in 2017, we can expect to see more advanced targeting options. This has already begun with additions such as device level bidding, demographic targeting, lookalike audiences for search and audience targeting with re-marketing lists for search ads (RLSA).

Keywords will continue to be the biggest factor in paid search targeting, but demographic and interest-based targeting options will help us spend money more efficiently.

2) Frequent and Continued Changes to SERPs

We saw numerous changes to search engine results pages (SERPs) last year. There was Google’s removal of right rail ads, Google and Bing’s addition of expanded text ads and new ad extensions such as visual site links, message extensions and structured snippets. We’ve also seen Google launch industry-specific search solutions that take up valuable space, such as Destinations on Google.

This year, we’ll likely see more changes to SERPs, which means that to keep campaigns current, we’ll need to keep up with those changes.

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3) Expansive Selection of Ad Extensions

With the release of additional ad extensions and new mobile-only extensions in 2016, there are many ways that we can be strategic about the mix of extensions that we serve with ads. Matching ad extensions to the buyer’s journey is a lot easier with a diverse array of extensions.

A campaign created to reach users in the purchasing stage, for instance, could highlight value and pricing through callout, price and promotion extensions.

In 2017, we’ll likely see advertisers being more strategic about the extensions they use based on the buyer’s journey.

Organic Search

1) “Mobile-First” is the New Standard

As digital marketers we’ve long harped on the importance of designing for mobile, but 2017 will finally be the year that Google shows zero tolerance for ignoring mobile.

Google has been headed towards a mobile-first standard over the last two years, first with “Mobilegeddon” penalizing non-mobile friendly sites and then with a boost for mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. This year, a “mobile-first” index rolls out, with Google ranking its search listings based primarily on mobile content. Also, sites using intrusive pop-ups on mobile devices will be penalized.

With these changes, brands will be forced to re-evaluate their approach to mobile to ensure a positive user experience.

2) SEO Integrated Throughout Tactics

The core of any digital marketing strategy needs to start with a deep understanding of target audiences and what motivates them. Since Google’s algorithms allow the search engine to sense user behavior and tailor results based on personal preference, it’s important to consider Google analytics and key words searched by target audiences when developing content.

In 2017, more advertisers will be integrating search engine optimization (SEO) throughout all channels to ensure a cohesive strategy that helps connect with key audiences.

3) Increased Focus on User Intent

With the rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence, predictive assistants and increased mobile/voice search, a focus on audience intent with be crucial in 2017.

Understanding audience needs and desires is key to producing content that resonates based on those needs and wants. The better search engines get at sensing user intent and the more people are getting their results served to them by a virtual assistant, the more crucial it will be to focus on providing valuable, solution-based content.

Questions? Contact us.

As digital marketers we’ve long harped on the importance of designing for mobile, but 2017 will finally be the year that Google shows zero tolerance for ignoring mobile.


About the Author

Anna Case

Paid Search Strategist

Anna thrives on creating, measuring and optimizing paid media programs. As a goal-oriented marketer with B2B and B2C experience, she applies broad-based audience knowledge to every program.