SEM: Playing Keep Up
The ever-shifting landscape of search marketing can create unexpected obstacles if marketers don't stay on top of the latest industry developments and consider how these changes can affect their campaigns. The search engines already have announced a number of big changes for 2010. Here are the ones that are sure to affect your campaigns and what you can do now to stay ahead of the competition.
After nearly a year and half of rumored back and forth between Bing and Yahoo, the two finally struck a deal in the summer of 2009, with the aim of leveraging their combined audience and technology to match up against Google. According to the agreement, which recently was given regulatory approval and the companies hope to implement by Q4 2010, Bing's search engine will power Yahoo's site, and Yahoo will manage advertiser sales and support for all paid search services.
Here's how the deal is likely to affect search marketers:
- The deal consolidates search down to "Binghoo" and Google, making it easier for search marketers to develop specific strategies for each.
- With an estimated 28 percent of search to be controlled by Bing/Yahoo, it is increasingly important for marketers to familiarize themselves with Bing's algorithm, which places more emphasis on the age of domain, title tags, text content and outbound linking.
- Bing also acquired Wolfram|Alpha, a "computation knowledge engine," which will be implemented into part of Bing's algorithm. Wolfram|Alpha's technology should help reduce the ambiguity of search inquiries, bettering Bing's ability to infer what users are looking for. Stay up-to-date on Bing's algorithm changes, as this integration could greatly impact organic results.
Last summer, Google launched a beta version of its newest organic search algorithm, code-named "Caffeine." While the official release date isn't expected until later in 2010, Web developers have had access to a beta preview for months, providing them with some insight into how Google's new search engine will affect marketing campaigns.
Caffeine most likely will result in a significant change to quality score calculations. There is speculation that it will place more emphasis on keyword relevance, long-tail keywords, page loading times, inbound linking quality and content.
What can you do to make sure you're prepared:
- Google is going to ramp up indexing, which means newer content will show up sooner. Real-time search results will be included, as well as more frequently updated new stories to provide users with the most current variety of information. Marketers should plan to update their sites even more frequently and create a steady stream of new pages to take advantage.
- Google's Caffeine has been praised for its speed, which some estimate to be twice as fast as the older version. To compete in Google's newly caffeinated world, marketers should make sure their sites' loading times aren't lagging.
- Google's new algorithm relies more heavily on keyword strings, as opposed to single keywords, to produce better results. So search engine optimization content has to be on the dot.