Five Search Marketing Trends You Need to Know

A good search marketer understands how technology is changing -- and also how people are adapting their behavior as a result of those changes. Do this, and you can stay one step ahead of the competition.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at five key search marketing trends for 2018.

Video is King

If asked to name the world's second largest search engine, most people might mention a minor player such as Yahoo or Bing. In the public's conception, Google is the uncontested king of search.

Yet the truth is that the number two search engine isn't Bing; it's another massive platform in its own right: YouTube. The video giant processes more than three billion searches each month. Roughly 50-percent of all Internet users are on YouTube, and the platform reaches more people than any cable network.

Given these numbers, it's little surprise that so much focus in being placed on video and live streaming. Companies that focus on video-rich content supported by immersive technologies such as 360 degree and 3D viewing are best positioned to thrive in 2018.

The Power of Voice Search and the Smart Speaker

Much like smartphones did a decade ago, smart speakers (also called digital assistants) are quickly transforming how we live, work and play. Thanks to the development of Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant, our interactions with technology no longer need to be mediated through a keyboard.

This has massive implications for businesses, who are developing or using voice apps that help them create more efficient workplaces. Yet voice apps also play a critical role in marketing and advertising, as voice search helps consumers find what they need in a faster and more human-like fashion.

Given that more than 40-percent of people already use voice search on a daily basis, there will be extensive opportunities for marketers as voice technology matures and becomes the default search mode.

AI Will Make Search Marketing Even More Effective

Artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms are transforming virtually every industry -- and search marketing will be influenced by these changes.

We've already seen processes such as bid optimization, ad creation and ad rotation become more automated. In the next year, we can expect such progress to accelerate as automation becomes more precise and efficient. As AI becomes more refined, it will free search marketers from tedious, lower value tasks and allow them to focus on the creative and analytical tasks that truly move the needle.

Influencers Will Grow in Importance -- but With a Greater Focus on Quality

Brands partner with social influencers for two reasons: First, consumers innately trust the opinions of third parties more than they trust traditional advertising or marketing. Second, search ranking algorithms do the same. High-quality external content that backlinks to a business site confers authority -- and a higher organic search ranking.

Quality, however is important. Recently publications such as Forbes.com and the Huffington Post have tightened their contributor guidelines (in Forbes' case, this included a commitment to put every contributor on a paid contract). This commitment to content quality will help ensure that influencers retain the authority necessary to stand out in a rising sea of blogspam -- and help attract high search rankings.

A New Focus on Mobile

Mobile has been the mantra for marketers over the last few years, as businesses, platforms and publishers all sought to optimize content for smartphones. Google recently announced it would switch to a mobile-first index for 2018. Previously, desktop content was indexed and utilized for creating listings for both mobile and desktop users.

This is one more reason why marketers and advertisers need to ensure that mobile experiences are fast, user-friendly and responsive. Failure to do so could significantly impact search rankings.