Part 1: Paid Search Trends to Look for in 2018

by and

January 26 2018

With the search engines continuously trying to provide the best, most relevant results possible, it seems only natural that they would tailor their results based on the type of device you are searching from, your geography or even what they believe your search intent to be (researching a product versus someone who is ready to purchase, for example).

Does your 2018 digital marketing strategy include a plan of providing results based on similar search attributes? Do you take into account what device your target audience is using when searching for your products or services? Or do you provide content that is purpose-built and based on the needs and desired outcomes of how your visitors are searching?

In Part 1 of our 3-Part Series, we will discuss how to evolve your Pay Per Click strategies to remain competitive in today’s Age of Assistance.

Mobile Strategies

Think of 3 non-branded phrases that best describe your business, your products or the service you provide. Now, from your computer and using your search engine of choice, search for these phrases. Once you have those results, do the same three searches from your phone. If your results are anything like ours (which we included a sample of below), there were quite a few differences!

Search Landscape for Industrial Internet Marketing

Which difference surprised you the most when you compared your search results on mobile versus desktop? Take our poll to share your findings!

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Utilizing mobile bid strategies is important for all industries from B2C to local businesses to industrial manufacturers. In fact, half of B2B searches today are performed on smartphones. Imagine you are a machinist and one of your core pieces of machinery breaks down. You are in need of a replacement part in order for your facility to return to being fully operational. Do you wait until you are by a computer to begin looking for a new part, or do you turn to your phone, which is likely right in your back pocket?

With smartphones being used more and more for research and only one to two ads being shown above the fold on mobile devices, it’s hard to deny that mobile should be a part of all 2018 digital marketing strategies. This starts with making sure your ad is seen when relevant queries are conducted on mobile devices.

Even better news, 51% of those conducting research from mobile devices aren’t brand committed, so by simply optimizing for mobile and being above the fold for your key search phrases, you can increase your brand’s awareness.

Voice Search

Growth in the popularity of voice searches was one of our 2017 Paid Search Predictions, and we expect it to continue to gain momentum throughout 2018. Like we mentioned above, mobile phone usage is on the rise and with that comes the usage of voice search via mobile devices (like Siri or “Okay Google”). In fact, according to a recent study done by comScore, half of smartphone users use voice technology on their smartphones on a daily basis.  42% of smartphone voice users also intend to purchase a smart speaker (think Amazon Echo or Google Home) and over 13% of U.S. households had them as of mid December 2017. When you add it all up, that’s a lot of voice searches!

While much of the voice search queries may be informational in nature, it’s important to consider the top and middle of the funnel searches that are important to your business, so that users may be exposed to your brand earlier. Evolving your mobile strategy with voice searches that are likely to be valuable for your business will be important in 2018.

Okay Google Searches for Industrial

Local Search

Try searching for one of your top three phrases from above using the Ad Preview Tool and selecting a different location from your own. Notice how the results change based on the location you select. They also change if switch the device to mobile or add in a location modifier (city, state, zip code, neighborhood, near me, a country or even a combination of a few) to the end of your query. With search engines providing results based on all of these unique geographical factors, having a digital strategy that utilizes geographical targeting is necessary to get in front of your target audience these days, regardless of whether you are a local business or an international company.

At TopSpot, one of our core philosophies is that the search defines the user and when locations are included in someone’s searches, it is no different. We have found that searches that contain a location modifier typically have high intent (meaning they drive more leads). The best way to show up for these high intent searches is to include PPC keywords that mention the cities, neighborhoods and zip codes that you would like to target. In addition to having your keywords optimized with your targeted locations, your ads should match the user’s search intent as well. This can be done by including the keyword targeted locations within your ad text and by optimizing your ad extensions to mention target locations (like we did for one of our own ads in the example below).

SEM Ad Optimization for Local

Interested in learning more about local strategies that can help grow your business online? Sign up for our upcoming webinar, Local Digital Marketing: 10 Steps to Grow Your Business Online

Ad Extensions

Throughout 2017, Google made many updates to the way they served ad extensions on different devices, including showing multiple ad extension types in a carousel format on mobile devices and giving others more real estate. As more updates are made to the PPC Ad Landscape and additional extensions are made available, we anticipate an increase in the number of ad extensions shown at a time. For now, we are typically seeing 2-3 extensions per ad in the first few positions of the results page and a variety of different ad extension options with the Google AdWords interface.

Ad Extension Examples

As more emphasis is placed on ad extensions, it will be more important than ever to ensure that your Pay Per Click campaigns have all extensions suitable for your program enabled with the chance that the extension could be shown.

Ad Extensions not only look great, but they benefit your PPC program as well:

  • Improve CTR (click through rate); the more information provided, the more engaging the user is likely to be
  • Higher conversion rate; with more information readily available on the ad, the less information they will have to search for on the website
  • Standing out; the more landscape we can acquire, the better. Ad extensions yield and average 10-15% CTR uplift per new extension type implemented (Source: Google)
  • Branding & Opportunity to present your message to users who may not be familiar with your company. Controlling these ad extensions allows for flexibility & also allows you to feature valuable information that you want potential new clients to see.

2018 Trends for Paid Search

It is important to have a plan in place to be ready for the many changes that will impact the search landscape in 2018. More and more businesses are turning to search engine marketing to drive relevant users to their sites and convert them to clients. Being aware of the changes in the search landscape will allow you to better tailor your advertising program to drive the right kind of users to your site and the right kind of business which impacts your bottom line.

Want to learn more? Be sure to read Part 2 of our 3-Part Series, where SEO Specialists Maddy & August build on Part 1 and discuss the importance of a sound SEO strategy in today’s Age of Assistance along with Part 3 where we tie it all together and discuss the importance of an Integrated Approach in 2018!