With Google making constant changes to the search algorithm, adding new PPC features in the Ads platform and adjusting SERP layout, it could be its own job staying on top of the daily changes in our industry. This post could easily be a thousand words long just covering the things that have changed this month within the industry, but we will touch on a few trends and features to look forward to and implement in your digital marketing strategy during the coming year.
“50 percent of all searches will be voice searches by 2020” might be the biggest SEO/PPC fallacy out there. In some odd game of SEO Telephone, this predicted statistic has mutated from its original form into the end-all-be-all of voice search stats.
Although the statistic is often attributed to comScore, it was Andrew Ng (previously Chief Scientist at Baidu) who originally stated that “in five years’ time, at least 50 percent of all searches are going to be either through images or speech.” While 50 percent by 2020 for just voice is obviously a stretch, voice assistants and smart speakers have quickly worked their way into our lives over the last few years, with 24 percent of U.S. houses containing smart speakers and nearly all phones featuring smart assistants.
This shift toward voice fits well into the modern PPC Experts strategy as search terms are now more about intent and the meaning of the keywords, not just matching the keywords exactly. PPCs need to be sure that they include a strong mix of natural language keywords into their campaigns to account for voice search.
As voice search starts to mature and becomes more integrated into our devices and lives, we will likely see more specific use cases emerge.
AI Smart Bidding
The days of manual bid adjustments are over, for the most part. Of course, for edge cases where budgets are small and keywords are ultra competitive or expensive, you may want to adjust bids manually but for most cases, Google’s Smart Bidding feature is smart enough (*as long as you have enough conversion data to teach it).
Maximize Conversions is a powerful bidding strategy which can be used to garner more conversion data to use bidding strategies such as Target CPA and Target Return on Ad Spend which recommends having 30 and 50 conversions each to give the algorithm enough information to make effective bids.
These bid strategies use Google’s “advanced machine learning to automatically optimize bids and offers auction-time bidding capabilities that tailor bids for each and every auction” giving the account manager more time to focus on other optimizations such as keyword strategy or text ad copy.
Responsive Search Ads
While this feature remains in beta currently and is not available to all Google Ads accounts, this is likely coming out of beta in 2019 and will prove to be a huge time saver in the ad copy testing department.
Responsive Text Ads are the next iteration of Expanded Text Ads. Instead of a text ad compromising of multiple headlines tied to multiple descriptions, Responsive Text Ads are a database of your Headlines and Descriptions which Google then dynamically combines to be the most relevant to the searcher.
Personally, this new ad structure has created huge efficiencies in my text ad testing workflow and has really simplified the text ad creating process.
These are just a small sample of the nearly endless list of new trends, features, and technologies in our industry that we are looking forward to in 2019. Below are a collection of resources you can use to stay up to date on all things SEO and PPC.
- Google Ads Official Blog
- Search Engine Land
- Search Engine Watch
- Barry Schwartz’s Twitter
- /r/PPC SubReddit
Tell Us What You Think
Which do you plan on implementing in your higher ed digital marketing strategy in 2019? Will voice search ever become a viable option for longer-tail keywords or topics which require deeper research, i.e. which school to attend? Do you think we will ever be able to place ads into voice search results?