Imagine a beautiful world where every one of your customers tells you what they think of your brand in complete honesty, and even those who don’t want to be your customers tell you why it is the case.
And even though the truth might hurt sometimes, this scenario is a dream come true for marketers everywhere.
Except, it’s not a dream – it’s the reality we live in.
Anna, we are so sorry you experienced this. Behavior like you reported is not allowed on the Lyft platform, and we find reports like this very concerning. We immediately took action as soon as we received your tweet and a member of our safety team will be in touch soon.
— Lyft (@lyft) April 9, 2019
People have been talking about products and brands since forever: exchanging recommendations, complaining, talking about ads, or mentioning a brand in passing.
These discussions are now happening on social media, and you have a chance to monitor and tap in these conversations.
Moreover, with social listening software, brands finally got an opportunity to research their target audience’s preferences and unfiltered opinions.
Although tracking brand mentions is quite a simple concept, the tools that do that may vary greatly in price, features, and platforms they monitor.
In this article, you will find the tools which will empower your brand to track, engage with, and analyze social mentions, whatever budget and goals you have in mind.
The true strength of Brandwatch lies in its extremely detailed social data analytics.
Although you can see individual mentions in the pop-up window when you click on statistics graphs, to interact with them you’ll need to go to the social network’s website. That makes liking/responding to mentions quite tedious.
The company offers three platforms:
Each of them has its own unique features.
The Analytics platform examines the data you collect and segments it based on most common words, sentiment, location, gender and so on.
You can see a minute-by-minute analysis of mentions, so you are able to spot even minor changes immediately. Iris AI technology will alert you if it detects an unusual peak in your mentions.
The Vizia platform is devoted to building reports. It allows you to integrate Google Analytics, BuzzSumo, and Hootsuite data and choose what metrics you want to present.
You can share reports with the stakeholders, your colleagues or management by email.
The Audiences platform was designed to carry out thorough Audience research.
It’s basically a database of Twitter users which you can search based on the keywords in bios and recent tweets, location, gender and the accounts they follow.
You can analyze the ongoing conversations of your audience to figure out what they are talking about and who they are engaging with.
In addition, Brandwatch offers unique features such as image recognition, emoji analysis, and smart reports.
As you see, Brandwatch provides you with extremely valuable insights that could guide every step of your social media marketing strategy.
However, if your goal is the day-to-day community management, social support, and lead generation, you’d be better off with another tool.
Platforms monitored: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, Sina Weibo, VK, QQ, news and blogs, the web.
Pricing: The Pro plan (which is the most affordable) costs $800 a month with 10,000 monthly mentions.
Mention’s emphasis is on real-time monitoring. Once you set up an alert, you get mentions that date back no more than 24 hours. Historical data is only available in Custom plans.
Mention offers several settings (by date, language, and source of mentions) and a Boolean search mode to design a perfect search query.
Once you set up your alert, you’re able to react to social posts within Mention’s platform and connect a Buffer account to schedule reposts of favorable mentions, for example.
You can tag individual mentions to unite them in one group.
In the Insights center, Mention dissects your social listening data using multiple parameters including sentiment, reach, language.
The tool enables you to customize your reports, thus from the array of metrics you can choose those which you want to include in your automated report.
Moreover, Mention provides users with access to their API, so you can integrate the Insights with other marketing software you use.
Mention aims to be “on the watch” 24/7, so it will automatically send the latest mentions by email or Slack. They also have a mobile app so you can deal with new mentions on the go.
Platforms monitored: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, news and blogs, the web.
Pricing: Free trial available. In Solo plan for $29, you get 2 alerts and a monthly limit of 3,000 mentions.
Keyhole’s main difference from other tools is its limit in platforms it monitors.
It is another tool that puts focus on analytics, however, in addition to mentions analytics, they offer account analytics. But first, let’s talk about brand tracking.
Keyhole lets you interact with mentions without leaving their platform as well as shows you an in-depth analysis of them.
It breaks down mentions by sentiment, gender, location (for the U.S. you can see a particular state), original vs. reposts and source, meaning through which OS or app a mention was posted.
The historical data from Twitter is available on request.
It also identifies the most influential accounts and the most popular phrases, hashtags, and links mentioned with your brand name. The machine learning algorithm will notify you if:
- There is a sudden or predicted spike in activity in the conversation.
- A user complains about your brand, service or product.
- New influential users join the conversation.
- A post begins to go viral.
As for account analytics mentioned earlier, Keyhole pulls the data from your own social media account and gives you valuable insights on your most popular posts, most engaged followers, the best time to post and more.
Keyhole is somewhat limited in the numbers of platforms it supports in comparison to other tools, but if you’re pivoting to Instagram, for example, this tool could be extremely useful.
Platforms monitored: Twitter, Instagram, forums, news sites, and blogs.
Pricing: Free trial available. In the Going Solo plan for $44, you get 3 keywords and 3 social media accounts with 5,000 mentions a month.
4. Social Mention
If you’re not ready to invest in brand tracking, but you need something better than Google Alerts, Social Mention is the best choice. And it’s free.
When putting in your brand name, you can choose what sources you want to monitor and the language(s) of the mentions. You can see the mentions either chronologically or sorted by source.
In addition to real-time mentions of your brand, Social Mention also shows you:
- Statistics such as the “strength” of your brand (the likelihood that it will be discussed on social media).
- The overall sentiment analysis.
- The “passion” behind mentions (the likelihood that one account will mention it repeatedly).
- The reach.
- Top keywords and hashtags associated with it.
- How many unique authors are talking about it.
- The top authors based on the number of mentions.
This is a good tool if your brand is not quite big yet, and you just want to make sure that you’ll know whenever someone mentions it.
Tip: If you need social listening analytics such as location, demographic data or influencers for free, but don’t need to see individual mentions, try Talkwalker’s free solution.
Platforms monitored: Twitter, Reddit, Flickr, Google News, blogs.
Some tools focus on real-time brand tracking and engagement, some collect social data and analyze it – Awario does both. (Disclosure: I work at Awario.)
From the get-go, you get a lot of opportunities to fine-tune your tracking, you can:
- Choose what platforms and countries you want to monitor.
- Add negative keywords.
- Choose the date range of mentions.
- Choose how often you want to be notified of new mentions.
The users are notified of new mentions by email or push notifications.
If that isn’t enough, you can go to the Boolean search mode which allows users to create elaborate queries. It is especially useful if you have a brand name that is a common word.
This tool looks for mentions across social media and the web from the moment you set up an alert. All the mentions are shown in the feed, from which you can like, upvote, and reply to them without having to leave the tool.
You can group mentions by author or conversation and filter them by date, sentiment, and reach.
This proves to be extremely functional when, for example, a person with a large social media following posts something negative about your brand.
The sooner you find this mention and respond, the sooner the unfortunate situation will be mitigated and potential PR crisis averted.
This fucking “detox Tea” company are using an image of an eating disorder survivor, without her permission, to promote their bullshit product. This is so unethical, just like everything else about these bold, evil companies. They have no morals. This is so gross. @skinnymetea pic.twitter.com/dvLIn4Ab3r
— Jameela Jamil 🌈 (@jameelajamil) March 20, 2019
You get both real-time monitoring and historical data, which means you get access to the posts mentioning your brand name that had been published even before you started using the tool. You can export this raw data in CSV.
Now, let’s talk analytics. Awario uses a number of metrics to analyze gathered mentions and gives you the following insights:
- The number of mentions.
- The overall reach of mentions.
- The breakdown of countries and languages (if you choose to track your brand in more than one country and more than one language).
- The breakdown of the sentiment of mentions.
- The topic cloud with the words commonly associated with your brand name.
- Most influential and active users who mentioned your brand.
If you decide to monitor several keywords (for example, yours and your competitor’s brand name, your products’ names, etc.), you can compare them in the Alert Comparison tab.
You can also see influencers who mentioned your brand in the Influencers tab.
All of this information can be exported in a nice-looking report, either via a shareable link or in PDF.
The flexibility of the tool allows you to go beyond tracking your brand mentions and carry out a wide range of marketing activities such as market research, content curation, link building, and so on.
It even has a social selling module titled Leads that uses predictive insights to find people who’re asking for recommendations about a product similar to yours or looking for an alternative to your competitors.
Platforms monitored: Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, news sites, blogs, the web.
Pricing: Free trial available. In the Starter plan for $29 a month, you get 3 alerts and 30,000 new mentions per month.
That’s it. Five tools for different goals and different wallets that represent the diversity of this market.
Hopefully this article gave you a good grasp on various benefits a brand tracking tool is able to offer, and you’ll find here something for you.
All screenshots taken by author, April 2019
Eight great ways to audit your ecommerce site’s SEO
30-second summary: Optimizing your ecommerce site’s SEO is essential to maximizing your ecommerce site’s traffic and revenue potential. Improve your SEO by structuring your website and page in a way that is easy for Google to understand. Pagespeed optimization is a necessity, not an option, with the upcoming algorithm change. Writing a relevant, informative blog […]
- Optimizing your ecommerce site’s SEO is essential to maximizing your ecommerce site’s traffic and revenue potential.
- Improve your SEO by structuring your website and page in a way that is easy for Google to understand.
- Pagespeed optimization is a necessity, not an option, with the upcoming algorithm change.
- Writing a relevant, informative blog on your ecommerce site will help increase organic traffic.
A recent statistic shows that 33% of global ecommerce traffic comes from organic searches. In other words, you will be missing out on a significant portion of potential traffic if your ecommerce site is not optimized for SEO. Although some SEO components are not entirely within your control, you can still do many things to improve ecommerce site’s SEO.
In this article, we’ll go over eight ways you can audit and improve on your ecommerce site’s SEO health.
Additionally, we will discuss why it’s now more important than ever to optimize your page speed for the algorithm update in the coming months.
Let’s get started.
1. Canonical tags for filtered pageviews
In most ecommerce sites, you can filter product types based on different categories, such as color, fit, and size.
If your ecommerce site has many filtered pages, you want to use canonical tags in your filtered pages to avoid duplicate content.
Having duplicate content on your site can make it difficult for Google to rank your page since your duplicate page will compete for the top spots in search results.
The image below shows filters on the Underarmour website. You can also see that the URL comes with the “/shoes” text at the end when you filter based on shoes.
By placing the canonical tags on your filtered pages, you tell a Google crawler which page is the main page you want to rank.
In this case, the canonical tag on “underarmour.ca/en-ca/d/mens/shoes” points to the “underarmour.ca/en-ca/d/mens” URL.
This lets Google know that the latter URL is the primary URL you want to rank. You will also prevent your site from potentially receiving a duplicate penalty from Google.
2. Optimize a meta description for each page
Does each one of your pages have a unique meta description?
Writing a relevant and unique meta description for each page increases the likelihood of people clicking your link.
Since click-through-rate (CTR) is an important ranking factor in Google search results, you will be jeopardizing your search ranking if you fail to optimize a meta description for your page.
That said, you may find it difficult to implement this in practice if you have hundreds and thousands of pages on your ecommerce site.
In such a case, I recommend you start optimizing meta descriptions for pages currently making you the most revenue and moving down in the order.
3. Keyword placement
While you certainly want to avoid stuffing your page with your target keywords, it’s a good idea to strategically include them throughout your page to let Google know what keywords you are targeting.
You will want to include a few keywords in your URL, title, description, and alt image text to ensure your page is relevant for your target keywords.
Here is an example.
And an example of keywords in the description.
4. Breadcrumb trails
Breadcrumb trails help website visitors navigate through your website and help organize your site in a well-structured manner.
Additionally, breadcrumbs make it easy for Google crawlers to understand your page better, which, in turn, may help your page rank better.
Moreover, search results will show breadcrumbs instead of your page’s permalink, which is another clue that Google emphasizes breadcrumbs for SEO.
You don’t need to overcomplicate things when implementing breadcrumb navigation. Just make sure to follow the standards of good practice, such as using breadcrumbs only when it makes sense and progressing from highest to lowest level.
5. Optimize your ecommerce site for sitelinks
Here is an example of sitelinks that appear in search results for a well-optimized site.
Google states that they only show sitelinks for structured websites that allow their algorithms to find good sitelinks.
Sitelinks improve click-through-rates and help searchers quickly see pages that are relevant to their interests.
Furthermore, they add credibility to your sites. Google doesn’t show sitelinks for websites that aren’t well optimized and not trustworthy.
If Google trusts your website enough to give a large space on search results, you can sort of view that as a seal of approval from Google.
At the very least, you can assume Google doesn’t see your website as untrustworthy and scammy.
While you can’t fully control whether your ecommerce site shows sitelinks in search results, there are a few things you can do to increase your chance.
- Enable breadcrumbs and a sitelink search box
- Structure your website clearly
- Use anchor text for your internal links
6. Do you have reviews on your product page?
Reviews on your product page serve several purposes.
First, they give useful information to people who visit your website and help them make better purchasing decisions.
Furthermore, your page can show a star rating in search results, which will help your search result stand out and improve your CTR.
As a matter of fact, a study done by CXL found that review stars can improve CTR by as much as 35%.
You can check out documentation from Google to learn how best to structure your page so you can maximize your site’s chance to display review snippets in search results.
7. Optimize your site speed
You’ve probably heard about the importance of website speed optimization.
But with Google confirming that page loading speed will become a ranking signal in the coming months, it’s now more important than ever to optimize page speed on your website.
According to Moovweb, 87% of ecommerce sites do not meet the page experience standards set out by Google.
You can also see this as an opportunity for your site to gain a competitive edge over others.
There are many things you can do to improve your page speed, such as:
- Get a better hosting service
- Use lazy loading, so your image only loads as users scroll down
- Remove large elements on your page
You can use PageSpeed Insights from Google to determine what elements on your page are slowing down speed.
Here is an article with more good advice on optimizing your page speed for the upcoming algorithm changes.
8. Does your website have informational content?
Finally, it’s always a good idea to write blog posts around keywords that your target audience is searching for.
A study shows that 61% of online shoppers in the US are more confident about purchasing from recommendations that they read in blogs.
Blogging for your ecommerce site can help your business in several different ways.
- Build trust with your audience by providing helpful content
- Establish your brand as an expert in the field
- Improved search engine ranking with relevant, high-quality content on your blog
A blog post you publish today isn’t going to bring an impressive result by tomorrow. But it’s a long-term investment that will help your ecommerce site generate more traffic and build trust and authority with the audience in your niche in the long haul.
Improving SEO for your ecommerce site is rarely ever a quick, easy process.
This is especially true if your site has hundreds of pages that need to be optimized.
In such a case, it would be wise to start with pages that are generating the most amount of traffic and revenues.
Start optimizing from the best-performing pages and move down in the order as your time and effort allows.
Your results with SEO won’t be instantaneous, but you will be glad you put extra effort into optimizing your site’s SEO down the road.
Jin Choi is a writer at the MoneyNam blog.
How to use XPath expressions to enhance your SEO and content strategy
- As Google increasingly favors sites with content that exudes expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), it is imperative that SEOs and marketers produce content that is not just well written, but that also demonstrates expertise.
- How do you understand what topics and concerns matter most to your customer base?
- Can you use Q&As to inform content strategies?
- XPath notations can be your treasure trove.
- Catalyst’s Organic Search Manager, Brad McCourt shares a detailed guide on using XPath notations and your favorite crawler to quickly obtain the Q&As in a straightforward and digestible format.
As Google increasingly favors sites with content that exudes expertise, authority, and trustworthiness (E-A-T), it is imperative that SEOs and marketers produce content that is not just well written, but that also demonstrates expertise. One way to demonstrate expertise on a subject or product is to answer common customer questions directly in your content.
But, how do you identify what those questions are? How do you understand what topics and concerns matter most?
The good news is that they are hiding in plain sight. Chances are, your consumers have been shouting at the top of their keyboards in the Q&A sections of sites like Amazon.
These sections are a treasure trove of (mostly) serious questions that real customers have about the products you are selling.
How do you use these Q&As to inform content strategies? XPath notation is your answer.
You can use XPath notations and your favorite crawler to quickly obtain the Q&As in a straightforward and digestible format. XPath spares you from clicking through endless screens of questions by automating the collection of important insights for your content strategy.
What is XPath?
XML Path (XPath) is a query language developed by W3 to navigate XML documents and select specified nodes of data.
The notation XPath uses is called “expressions”. Using these expressions, you can effectively pull any data that you need from a website as long as there is a consistent structure between webpages.
This means you can use this language to pull any publicly available data in the source code, including questions from a selection of Amazon Q&A pages.
This article is not meant to be a comprehensive tutorial on XPath. For that, there are plenty of resources from W3. However, XPath is easy enough to learn with only knowing the structure of XML and HTML documents. This is what makes it such a powerful tool for SEOs regardless of coding prowess.
Let’s walk through an example to show you how…
Using XPath to pull customer questions from Amazon
Pre-req: Pick your web crawler
While most of the big names in web crawling – Botify, DeepCrawl, OnCrawl – all offer the ability to extract data from the source code, I will be using ScreamingFrog in the example below.
ScreamingFrog is by far the most cost-effective option, allowing you to crawl up to 500 URLs without buying a license. For larger projects you can buy a license. This will allow you to crawl as many URLs as your RAM can handle.
Step one: Collect the URLs to crawl
For our example, let’s pretend we’re doing research on the topics we should include in our product pages and listings for microspikes. For those unaware, microspikes are an accessory for your boots or shoes. They give you extra grip in wintry conditions, so they are particularly popular among cold-weather hikers and runners.
Here we have a list of 13 questions and answer pages for the top microspike pages on Amazon.com. Unfortunately, there is some manual work required to create the list.
The easiest way is to search for the topic (that is, microspikes) and pull links to the top products listed. If you have the product’s ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) handy, you can also generate the URLs using the above format, but switching out the ASIN.
Step two: Determine the XPath
From here, we need to determine the XPath.
In order to figure out the proper XPath notation to use to pull in the desired text, we have two main options:
- View the Source-Code
- View the rendered source code and copy the XPath directly from Chrome’s Inspect Element tool
You’ll find that the expression needed to locate all questions in an Amazon Q&A page is:
Here is XPath notation broken down:
- // is used to locate all instances of the following expression.
- Span is the specific tag we’re trying to locate. //span will locate every single <span> tag in the source code. There are over 300 of these, so we’ll need to be more specific.
- @class specifies that //span[@class] will ensure all <span> tags with an assigned class attribute will be located.
- @class=”a-declarative” dictates that //span[@class=”a-declarative”] only locates <span> tags where the class attribute is set to “a-declarative” – that is, <span class=”a-declarative”>
There is an extra step in order to return the inner text of the specified tag that is located, but ScreamingFrog does the heavy lifting for us.
It’s important to note that this will only work for Amazon Question and Answer pages. If you wanted to pull questions from, say, Quora, TripAdvisor, or any other site, the expression would have to be adjusted to locate the specific entity you desire to collect on a crawl.
Step three: Configure your crawler
Once you have this all set, you can then go into ScreamingFrog.
Configuration -> Custom -> Extraction
This will then take you to the Custom Extraction screen.
This is where you can:
- Give the extraction a name to make it easier to find after the crawl, especially if you’re extracting more than one entity. ScreamingFrog allows you to extract multiple entities during a single crawl.
- You can then choose the extraction method. In this article, it is all about XPath, but you also have the option of extracting data via CSSPath and REGEX notation as well.
- Place the desired XPath expression in the “Enter XPath” field. ScreamingFrog will even check your syntax for you, providing a green checkmark if everything checks out.
- You then have the option to select what you want extracted, be it the full HTML element or the HTML found within the located tag. For our example, we want to extract the text in between any <span> tags with a class attribute set to “a-declarative” so we select “extract text.”
We can then click OK.
Step four: Crawl the desired URLs
Now it’s time to crawl our list of Amazon Q&A pages for microspikes.
First, we’ll need to switch the Mode in ScreamingFrog from “Spider” to “List.”
Then, we can either add our set of URLs manually or upload them from an Excel or other supported format.
After we confirm the list, ScreamingFrog will crawl each URL we provided, extracting the text between all <span> tags containing the class attribute set to “a-declarative.”
In order to see the data collected, you just need to select “Custom Extraction” in ScreamingFrog.
At first glance, the output might not look that exciting.
However, this is only because a lot of unneeded space is included with the data, so you might see some columns that appear blank if they are not expanded to fully display the contents.
Once you copy and paste the data into Excel or your spreadsheet program of choice, you can finally see the data that has been extracted. After some clean-up, you get the final result:
The result is 118 questions that real customers have asked about microspikes in an easily accessible format. With this data at your fingertips, you’re now ready to incorporate this research into your content strategy.
Before diving into content strategies, a quick word to the wise: you can’t just crawl, scrape and publish content from another site, even if it is publicly accessible.
First, that would be plagiarism and expect to be hit with an DMCA notice. Second, you’re not fooling Google. Google knows the original source of the content, and it is extremely unlikely your content is going to rank well – defeating the purpose of this entire strategy.
Instead, this data can be used to inform your strategy and help you produce high quality, unique content that users are searching for.
Now, how do you get started with your analysis?
I recommend first categorizing the questions. For our example there were many questions about:
- Sizing: What size microspikes are needed for specific shoe/boot sizes?
- Proper Use – Whether or not microspikes could be used in stores, on slippery roofs, while fishing, mowing lawns, or for walking on plaster?
- Features: Are they adjustable, type of material, do they come with a carrying case?
- Concerns: Are they comfortable, do they damage your footwear, do they damage the type of flooring/ground you’re on, durability?
This is an amazing insight into the potential concerns customers might have before purchasing microspikes.
From here, you can use this information to:
1. Enhance existing content on your product and category pages
Incorporate the topics into the product or category descriptions, answering questions shoppers might have pre-emptively.
For our example, we might want to make it abundantly clear how sizing works – including a sizing chart and specifically mentioning types of footwear the product may or may not be compatible with.
2. Build out a short on-page FAQ section featuring original content, answering commonly asked questions
Make sure to implement FAQPage Schema.org markup for a better chance to appear for listings like People Also Ask sections, which are increasingly taking up real estate in the search results.
For our example, we can answer commonly asked questions about comfort, damage to footwear, durability, and adjustability. We could also address if the product comes with a carrying case and how to best store the product for travel.
3. Produce a product guide, incorporating answers to popular questions surrounding a product or category
Another strategy is to produce an extensive one-stop product guide showcasing specific use cases, sizing, limitations, and features. For our example, we could create specific content for each use case like hiking, running in icy conditions, and more.
Even better, incorporate videos, images, charts, and featured products with a clear path to purchase.
Using this approach your end product will be content that shows expertise, the authority on a subject, and most importantly, addresses customer concerns and questions before they even think to ask. This will help prevent your customers from having to do additional research or contact customer service. Thanks to your informative and helpful content, they will be more ready to make a purchase.
Furthermore, this approach also has the potential to lower product return rates. Informed customers are less likely to purchase the wrong product based upon assumed or incomplete knowledge.
Amazon is just the tip of the iceberg here. You can realistically apply this strategy to any site that has publicly accessible data to extract, be that questions from Quora about a product category, Trip Advisor reviews about hotels, music venues, and attractions, or even discussions on Reddit.
The more informed you are about what your customers are expecting when visiting your site, the better you can serve those expectations, motivate purchases, decrease bounces, and improve organic search performance.
Brad McCourt is an Organic Search Manager at Catalyst’s Boston office.
Five must knows for advertisers and marketers
- 2020 set the stage for one of the most disruptive and fluid years search has ever seen.
- Local search and Google My Business (GMB) set to be key focal areas for search advertisers and marketers amid shifts in COVID era search activity.
- Google continues to make moves at further integrating ecommerce into search.
- Manual Text Ads look to be on shaky ground as we move into 2021.
- Ashley Fletcher, VP of Marketing at Adthena, shares five must-knows for search in 2021.
From algorithm changes to shifts in search activity as a result of COVID-19, 2020 was one of the most disruptive years that the search industry has ever seen. And although positive movements have been made in helping to rein in the COVID-19, a “return to normal” still seems a long way off. However, with the COVID-19 vaccine raising the possibility that “non-COVID era” search habits may return, search professionals are hard at work trying to determine which industry changes are here to stay, and which may fade away, as the world begins to get long overdue COVID relief. This means the landscape of search in 2021 is likely to see just as unpredictable of evolution as it did in 2020.
With that in mind, here are three key areas search advertisers and marketers should pay close attention to as we move into, and through, 2021.
Doubling down on GMB and local search
Remember when Google My Business (GMB) was just a helpful little tool for search advertising and marketing? Those days are now behind us.
Accounting for 33% of how local businesses are ranked, GMB is now a huge factor when it comes to SEO. Moreover, as local continues to become a bigger part of the search environment as more users are opting to stay close to home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, advertisers and marketers need to optimize their search strategies appropriately and stay abreast of any enhancements to GMB.
Greater consideration for voice search
With 157 million Amazon Echos in homes around the US at the start of 2020, voice search is poised to continue being a massive player in search moving forward. And given how easy it is, the fact that more smart speakers are set to be purchased in the years to come, voice search is likely to go from a secondary voice channel to a primary one in short order. Therefore, with this new avenue opening up and PPC having to be rethought as a result, advertisers should begin thinking about how to optimize their searches from traditional keyword search logic to spoken word-centric phrases.
Direct buy on Google? Amazon beware
E-commerce is set to be one of the most intriguing areas of search in 2021 as Google continues to indicate that shopping will be a key goal for its platform moving forward. For years, Google has been signaling that shopping and e-commerce are key focal areas for its platform. And through the rollout of features such as Smart Shopping — among other things — Google has never been in a better position to drive sales directly from its SERPs. This means that not only should Amazon be on high-alert, but traditional retail search advertisers need to seriously consider their search strategies in the year ahead.
The end of the text ad?
Could 2021 be the end of the road for text ads? This has been the question on search pros minds particularly since Google briefly scrapped the ability to create text ads in October — not to mention when the ability to create ETAs disappeared from Google Ads dropdown menus on a smaller scale in August. Plus, given the added emphasis being placed on Smart Bidding, it seems that manual text ads could have a limited lifespan at best, and 2021 could be the year where we see this search staple wound down entirely.
Being OK with uncertainty
Search advertisers are used to adapting to continuously evolving circumstances. But 2021 could push the term “evolution” to an extreme. From better understanding search patterns during the COVID era to figuring out which trends are here to stay and which are just passing fads, 2021 is going to be a very hard year for search professionals to get their heads around — let alone always get it right. With that in mind, it has never been more important for search professionals to lean into both technology and teamwork to make sense of what lies ahead. Moreover, search professionals need to move into 2021 with a whole new perspective on flexibility. Simply put, search advertising is set to chart completely foreign waters in 2021, and by embracing the fact that uncertainty is the new normal search professionals will likely have a much easier time adapting to these new circumstances.
While 2020 presented the search industry with an unprecedented amount of uncertainty, 2021 could represent a period of even greater unpredictability as several foundational changes seem to be set to take place within the space. However, by keeping an eye on these emerging areas and game planning now, search advertisers and marketers will not only be able to avoid potential headaches and growing pains but be able to put themselves in a position to drive success as soon as possible.
Ashley Fletcher is VP of Marketing at Adthena.
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