By Derek Andersen
SEM and SEO currently represent just under 50% of all digital marketing spend in the US. And that percentage will only increase—Forrester’s analysts predict an 8% growth in SEM and SEO in the coming year. As click-to-call, voice search, and voice-enabled devices begin to play a larger role in SEM and SEO, it’s essential that digital marketers keep pace with the latest trends. Below, we’ll break down some of the most frequently asked questions about the future of SEM and SEO and discuss how to optimize your search strategies to acquire more customers, using tips coverd in our on-demand webinar, Crank Up the Volume on Search ROI: The Big Impact of Voice on SEO & SEM.
We’ll start with the basics—it’s easy to get confused about the difference between SEM and SEO, since many marketers have begun to use the terms interchangeably.
SEM is a blanket term, which includes SEO as a subset. SEM includes both paid and organic methods of increasing your website’s visibility on search engines. SEO is the portion of SEM that deals with increasing search engine visibility through organic methods.
To put it another way, SEM includes all of the following:
Paid search has the highest spend of any digital marketing channel. As it continues to grow, it’s also becoming more competitive. When Forrester recently assessed the quality of 175 randomly-selected paid search ads, they found that 58% passed their rigorous evaluation. This is the highest pass rate Forrester has seen in over a decade, since they started the study.
Not only are marketers increasing the quality of their paid search ads, but they’re also including more extensions—Forrester saw that 49% of the ads used click-to-call.
According to Forrester, mobile searches will generate 73 billion phone calls to businesses in 2018. This figure has more than doubled from 30 billion calls in 2013. Additionally, leads who call a business are 10-15 times more likely to convert than leads who fill out a web form. Callers tend to be more empowered than typical leads—they’ve done more research and they’re likely further along in the customer journey. Therefore, for many businesses, driving calls should be the primary objective of SEM advertising.
The click-to-call action is becoming an increasingly important part of SEM, since it provides a frictionless user experience. Users no longer have to click the website link, wait for the site to load, and scroll through searching for a phone number. Instead, they can simply click the button and speak with a representative. This reduces frustration and routes the user to your team instantly, before they can be enticed by a competitor.
Click-to-call extensions are also highly beneficial for local customers. In a recent study, Forrester found that 50% of searches were local in nature. When surveying these local search customers, Forrester found that the majority of them weren’t looking for product availability or pricing—they were simply searching for contact information. Therefore, the click-to-call extension is a valuable way to instantly provide local customers with the information they need to engage your business.
Forrester found that over 43% of US online adults currently use a digital assistant (Alexa, Cortana, Siri, etc). Additionally, 97% of these digital assistant users ask for commercially relevant information from their assistants, including search engine queries.
As digital assistants advance, they will become the gatekeepers for purchases. They will understand consumer wants and needs—for example, they will recognize a user’s preferred brand of running shoes based on past purchases. They will also anticipate when the consumer needs to make the purchase, and execute it autonomously—when the user’s smart device reaches a certain mileage with the current pair of running shoes, the intelligent agent will automatically order a fresh pair of running shoes.
It’s crucial that companies evolve with voice technology—below is a chart Forrester designed to help assess voice search SEM urgency.
You’ll need to ask yourself two questions:
Voice-enabled devices are ideal when shopping for simple products that are not highly considered—products that require heavy research are seldom purchased through a voice command. If your customers are using voice search and your products/services are not highly considered, you’ll need to think about optimizing your SEM and SEO strategy for voice sooner rather than later.
The following strategies can help you rank in voice searches:
Our webinar “Crank Up the Volume on Search ROI: The Big Impact of Voice on SEO & SEM” goes into more depth on this topic.
Go deeper into this topic by viewing our on-demand webinar, “Crank Up the Volume on Search ROI: The Big Impact of Voice on SEO & SEM.”View the Session →
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