Search Engine Marketing: Bold Predictions for 2020


Search engine marketing (SEM) has undergone many changes over the past couple of years, and they don’t seem to stop there.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is part of SEM, which is an umbrella concept that encompasses several aspects of digital marketing. Technology is changing at a rapid pace and influencing every aspect of a person’s life, not to mention how processes are managed in various industries. With technology, people’s expectations are also growing, making it even harder to step up the game and keep up with current trends.

SEM is big in 2019, but it will increase even more in the coming year as the digital revolution begins to change digital marketing as we know it today. Staying informed of the changes that are about to happen is a requirement for people who depend on using SEM or SEO as a whole. Keep reading to learn more about the directions SEM will go in 2020. Of interest, see also this article, Top Search Engines to Consider in 2020

Google’s algorithms are constantly changing

Google’s algorithm updates are the ones that dictate the direction of digital marketing. The 2018 updates brought a lot of changes to the SEM, so why should 2019 be any different? Google never sleeps when it comes to updating algorithms, which means anyone who relies on digital marketing needs to keep an eye out for any changes. The most impactful updates of 2018 included the zero-result SERP test, the mobile-first index (which caused quite a stir in the SEM world), video carousels, and the main Medic update. Google Medical hugely impacted search rankings. The main purpose of Google’s algorithm updates is to encourage people to adopt better SEM practices. Google is getting smarter with its indexing strategies, slowly but steadily. Soon, people will need to invest more attention in how they run their digital marketing campaigns.

Google’s update that directly affects SEM (part of it, to be more specific – PPC) is the new component added to the Ad Rank formula. Ad position is no longer calculated using keyword Quality Score and CPC bid. Instead, Google brought Ad Extensions at the table. This change has been seen as an icebreaker in the world of digital marketing. Google tries to balance the number of organic ads and paid ads. Basically, the giant is trying to force advertisers to adopt search-centric approaches. This is where SEM is heading in 2020.

Everything goes mobile

According to Statistical, internet penetration by mobile phone increased from 48.8% in 2014 to 63.4% in 2019, and this information excludes tablets. Since the rise of IoT, people are more likely to access information from all kinds of sources. Digital transformation has also affected how SEM works and this could be one of the reasons for Google’s decision to focus more on mobile usage. Smartphone usage is becoming mainstream and the number of search queries from smaller devices has managed to overtake those from desktop computers. IoT devices will reach a fascinating 8.5 billion by 2020, which will certainly affect the opportunities for digital marketers (most likely in a positive way).

That should come as no surprise, considering smartphones are now more powerful than a mid-range laptop. Professionals predict that the number of mobile phone users will increase to 9 million in 2020, with a considerable part of this number exclusively using smartphones. This forecast could undergo changes in the following months, given the fact that mobile phones are becoming more and more efficient. SEM could undergo changes because of this digital shift – everything will become cross-platform and personalized in real time. SEM professionals must remain open to changing market demands.

Consumer-centric versus ROAS-centric approaches

Paid search programs will have to be viewed with a different set of eyes. The year 2020 will bring a new perspective to the table – consumer-centric approaches. Today, as in the last two years, the approach chosen by online marketers is centered on ROAS. ROAS is short for Return Of Advertising Spending and it is a KPI (Key Performance Indicator). These elements determine the effectiveness of an SEM plan. Or – at least – they have so far.

Online marketers focused on ROAS because it seemed to be the most relevant KPI to track: is the advertising budget they are using generating enough revenue? Approaches are currently focused on finance and marketers are trying to maximize advertising results from a very technical perspective. In 2020, the approaches will be totally different. Google does its best to eliminate these overly technical approaches and focus online marketers’ attention on customer-centric approaches.

After all, the goal of any search engine is to provide great service to its users, instead of throwing them irrelevant ads and making them hate the experience. In 2020, this aspect will be more accentuated than ever. Parxavenue digital marketers have already found a method to combine both great results and consumer-centric approaches into their SEM plans.

Smarter audience targeting

Today, audience targeting practices are quite general. In order to come up with a good SEM strategy that has visible results in a short period of time, selecting the audience in the right way can determine whether the strategy will be effective or not. The methods used today do their job, but it is not enough for what the future holds in terms of Search Engine Marketing. One of the predictions is that digital marketing will be entirely based on psychographic segmentation.

Because personalized ads quickly gained ground, it’s no wonder segmentation is done based on people’s personality traits, lifestyle, and value systems. Psychographic segmentation relies on selecting audiences based on their thinking, behavior, and feelings. This will certainly have an impact on the functioning of the SEM, its effectiveness and the direction it will take in the years to come. There’s not much left to do, except wait for these changes to happen and embrace them.

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