A Recap of 2017 & Predictions for 2018

Google, as well as other search engines, continue to improve their search results to focus on the user. With Google making changes, the search engine marketing industry also has to follow suit. Here is what we’ve learned with the ever-evolving SERP in 2017 and the changes we anticipate happening in the coming year. Read on for our thoughts and predictions.

What We Learned in 2017

Abbey Hadar
Abbey Hadar
Twitter
The significance of reviews is one of many important things I learned related to SEM and SEO in 2017. Now more than ever, people are looking at reviews for all purchases. Whether they are deciding on a restaurant, planning a vacation, or purchasing a product, reviews tell people if a company is worth their money. And if the reviews are bad, it also shows how a business handles poor reviews. Google My Business reviews are especially important for local businesses. Google also likes to see recent reviews and ones that are real, which can help improve your rankings in search results. Facebook, TripAdvisor, and Yelp are also beneficial when it comes to reviews. And don’t expect reviews to go away in 2018 – I think they will become even more prominent with more social platforms.
Adam Henige
Adam Henige
Twitter
It’s a real estate game more than ever. Whether you’re doing paid search or organic, you need to pay attention to how Google is structuring their results and take every opportunity to own as much real estate as you can. From the knowledge graph, to ads in the three pack, to answer boxes, you need to keep adjusting and taking advantage of Google’s ever-changing SERPs.
Breanna Ratering
Breanna Ratering
Twitter
I was just introduced to SEM in 2017 so the most important thing I learned is everything! I’ve learned everything from how important quality content is and integrating your business’ keywords to the importance of updating business information for local citations. One major thing I learned is how important it is to pay attention to all online activities surrounding your business because they all can impact SEM in different ways. For example, while not all social media accounts factor into Google rankings, they can be a powerful tool for getting website visits and brand recognition. Any online activity with your business’s name on it can be found on Google, it’s important to make sure your brand messaging is positive and consistent.
Jerod Karam
Jerod Karam
Twitter
Content, content, content, content, content. If you have built out a bunch of pages with thin content stuffed with keywords / phrases, then you probably know already that you got a solid beat-down in the last third of 2017. I figured we would have learned our lessons over the years but apparently, there’s still enough of this kind of thing going on that Google felt the need to devote resources to the problem. PUBLISH….QUALITY….CONTENT!!!!
Joe Ford
Joe Ford
Twitter
There were some large developments on the PPC side in the world of SEM in 2017. While told to pick one thing I learned, it likely was the migration of the new AdWords interface and forcing myself to learn to use it. Much of our industry is trying to hold off on rolling over to work with it. While I continue to rely on the feature to go back to the Previous interface, at some point we will need to adapt. This means getting used to the features and nuances, both positive and negative, in the new interface which came out in ’17.
Lexie Kimball
Lexie Kimball
Twitter
Social media has made it easier for customers to contact brands and receive the support they need. Previously, many of these interactions were for the public to see, but in 2017, many of these conversations became private with the use of private messages. The few times I reached out to Twitter accounts for support, they were instantly taken to private messages, while they previously were not. I don’t see this changing in 2018 either.
Michael Hall
Michael Hall
Twitter
Link building is still really important. This is something that I reaffirmed over the course of 2017 and will take with me into 2018. With the big SEO news stories of 2017 such as moving to mobile-friendly websites, converting sites to https, and changes in SERP structure, link building often gets overshadowed by the latest and greatest SEO trends. What I learned is that it is often more important to focus on the types of websites you target and the people you reach out to than other factors like their domain strength or pages that link out to a broken link. This can require more upfront work but it typically pays off.
Rianna Middleton
Rianna Middleton
Twitter
During the last few months of 2017, I have received a crash course to SEM. One of the most important things I have learned is how crucial it is for businesses to have correct information across directories. I was surprised at how often business’ information was incorrect and/or outdated on some of the top directory sites. Choosing relevant, quality directories is also very important because having your name listed on a low-quality directory can actually hurt your rankings.

What We Are Looking Out For in 2018

Looking into 2018, I’m interested in seeing how much more emphasis Google will put into ranking pictures and videos in search results. Videos and pictures are getting shared now more than ever on social media sites. People also usually respond better to visuals than paragraphs of content. I think Google is on the rise of adding more visuals to search results, especially with the growth of more featured snippets and knowledge graphs. Abbey Hadar
Abbey Hadar
Twitter
Net neutrality has been repealed. From here on out it’s anyone’s guess, but I think a lot of people inside and outside of search marketing are going to wake up and find themselves pretty upset about it. Adam HenigeAdam Henige
Twitter
With the Net Neutrality repeal, it’s anyone’s guess how it will affect marketers and those who rely heavily on the internet for their business. It could either be very bad and cause us to pay for things that were once free on the internet, or not much could change. This can really hurt consumer internet activities and smaller businesses who are relying on the internet to get started. Other than Net Neutrality, I expect Google to focus on more relevant search results and delivering more personal content when people search for something specific. Breanna Ratering
Breanna Ratering
Twitter
Adblocking has been growing in populatiry over the last several years. This, of course, hurts Google more than anyone since they can’t fund their $82 bajillion enterprise with declining ad revenue. I predict that Google will roll out a new system that circumvents adblockers through some Hogwarts magic and a bunch of ninja trickery. Jerod KaramJerod Karam
Twitter
My expectation for 2018 is that Google will continue to find ways to monetize local search ads. With local search being so critical, it is the last real place where organic components still matter. This will change so that Google can find ways to generate revenue. We are already seeing this with mapped ads, AdWords Express and Service ads, but I do expect to see more of a push in this area. Joe FordJoe Ford
Twitter
Live video was on the rise in 2017 and that trend is only going to continue in 2018, possibly becoming the norm. I expect social media platforms to continue to push the use of live streaming and many brands will be forced to follow suit. It will possibly be the best way to get organic impressions for pages in 2018. Lexie KimballLexie Kimball
Twitter
According to comScore, 50% of searches will be voice searches by 2020. If that statistic holds true, we are in for some big changes over the next two years. Will voice searches primarily make up people asking about the weather or will there be a big increase in high value commercialized voice searches – such as someone shopping for shoes. Will we see a big drop in search engine traffic to websites? Will the means and methods of optimizing content for voice searches be different than optimizing content for web searches? These are all big questions that I expect will be answered to some degree in 2018. Michael HallMichael Hall
Twitter
I am interested to see how artificial intelligence will change SEM in 2018. Digital assistants and voice search are already offering users a more personalized search experience and I think AI will play a major role in continuing this trend. Rianna Middleton
Rianna Middleton
Twitter

 

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