The Future Of Search:What Can We Expect From PPC And SEO?
Published 12th September 2015
What’s ahead for PPC?
It’s relatively difficult to speculate where PPC will be in five years, given the huge growth we’ve seen across the industry recently. This has obviously intensified the level of competition, bringing with it (especially in the gambling space) massively inflated CPCs across the industry. For instance, we’ve seen the keyword “Online Casino” jump from just £0.50 a click to up to £100 a click over the last five years. There is no longer one-size-fits-all approach in this industry, and to turn PPC activity in the gambling space into profit and revenue you need to rely on the best technology available in the market.
- Smart advertisers will be relying on technology to support increasingly complex optimisation and bidding processes
With increasingly complex bidding options, more sophisticated tracking and extensive campaign formats, leveraging technology is key for effective account management. Recently, we’ve seen several advances in this field, the most notable of these being the introduction of cross device attribution. This has recently been unveiled as a DoubleClick product, and is set to rival Facebook’s Atlas platform over the next couple of years. The typical conversion journey is no longer a linear process on one device, and PPC’s last click attribution has been its biggest failing over the last year. Incorporation of such advanced technology into life time revenue analysis will give businesses new insights into what areas to focus on for the future development of their company.
- Optimisation triggers will become more complex
Closing the loop on the relationship between mobile, desktop and tablet is only the beginning. Already we’ve seen huge advancements in integrating Paid Search campaigns with offline triggers, such as weather and news feeds, TV advertising and physical location. There are already a few nascent technologies that pick up on when an advertiser’s TV ad is shown, and automatically upweight bids across engines to boost exposure. In testing, the tool is at its most effective when used to hijack competitors’ TV advertising. Whilst this is still relatively new technology, it is clear that over the next five years we will undoubtedly see additional triggers being used to refine PPC strategies. This will finally allow PPC to go beyond the limitations of keyword targeting and provide additional insights into user intent, motivation and behaviour that PPC expects can leverage to better target their ads.
- Bidding will become more personal
At the moment, the gambling space is one of the most competitive industries in PPC, as highlighted by the dramatic CPC inflation outlined at the start. This inflation has put pressure on a lot of advertisers to justify PPC investment from an ROI perspective, and the increased competition appears a bit of a double-edged sword to Google. On the one hand, they’ve increased revenue on premium terms. On the other, they’re coming close to pricing themselves out of their own market. If advertisers are paying £100 a click for premium terms, then it better work out at a reasonable ROI in terms of LTV. The reality is that for a lot of casinos this is not the case. The challenge is then to identify ways for Google to try and identify and separate the valuable customers from the less valuable customers, and price them accordingly. In a lot of ways Google isn’t too far away from being able to offer this. They already offer “in market” audience segments through Display, which have yielded good results, and surely this can be overlaid on traditional PPC. This would allow advertisers to group potential customers into separate audiences based on their potential value to the business. The current targeting – being primarily keyword-based – doesn’t support this distinction and we expect Google’s targeting criteria to become much more “personal” and drive the next evolution advertisers can leverage to justify and manage ever-increasing CPCs across major platforms.
Where to for SEO?
Similarly to PPC, the SEO landscape is constantly changing and operators and specialists have to constantly adapt to stay ahead of the game. It is clear that Google is increasingly demoting organic rankings in favour of paid listings – as evidenced by their most recent announcement to show an additional paid ad on mobile, pushing organic rankings below the fold. It’s alsoclear that the search giant is less forgiving when it comes to any form of manipulation – justified or not – which we expect will see SEO as a practice come under much closer scrutiny for companies relying on search traffic for the bulk of their business. Apart from the above more fundamental shifts across the industry, we wanted to highlight a few developments, which while seemingly futuristic today, could define the next five years.
- Search is about answering queries as best as possible and needs to look beyond word-based content
More and more, search engines need to refine the ways in which they index and retrieve information as the way we consume media online is changing, away from predominantly text based html to rich media, video and audio. Google has filed a number of patents, all focused on delivering better search results across its index, even if that is based in rich media (audio, video or images) or even a combination of both. These innovations follow closely behind advances around “semantic search”, and interpreting user queries against the wider context and intent. By way of an example, if someone searched “weather London” Google knows that we are asking a question, and interprets the query instead as “what is the weather like in London?”, so it returns the most relevant results in images and text. The same applies for someone looking for an artist and a song title; it automatically reshuffles the query to yield the most relevant results. This is currently already happening in the knowledge graph, and some queries that trigger the Answer Box. However, it’s still in its infancy and we believe it will be developed further, which will open up a whole new avenue for optimisations and content creation.
- Schema markup will become more widely adopted to return the correct answers in their fullest forms
Schema is not a new change and many have already adopted it. However, there are still many brands that don’t invest in this search factor. Ultimately, this is because there is no correlation with rankings improving, but that could be about to change. Answer Box is growing in presence and is available for many more queries, and as we explained above, the search term does not even have to be phrased as a question for it to pop up with an answer. The most important question here has to be how is Google going to decide what is populated in the answer box? It’s thought that the search engine giant could rely on marked up content using schema in order to populate that information, adding further importance to the use of schema throughout your strategies.
- Enhancing search results by determining TV proximity
Google has filed a patent that could potentially target those who are watching a specific TV show via their mobile device, calculating their proximity to this in order to deliver the best results. This will enable Google to deliver more precise, user specific answers which take into account what you are watching. For example, someone could be searching for “Lions” because they have just seen an interesting documentary on them via the TV and enter a search query. Google knows the intent of the search and can yield the most relevant results to that user. This means different information can be delivered to those who are engaging based on those watching the programme.
- What do these three factors tell us?
What the three examples clearly demonstrate is that organic search will remain to be incredibly important, and is far from dead. What is undoubtedly changing however is the way search engines crawl and index content, and SEO has to adapt to this. There will be a much larger breadth of content that SEOs can leverage to drive traffic and we fully expect the scope of SEO to increase accordingly to cover of all these developing opportunities.
“There are already a few nascent technologies that pick up on when an advertiser’s TV ad is shown, and automatically upweight bids across engines to boost exposure.”
“It’s thought that Google could rely on marked up content using schema in order to decide what is populated in the Answer Box.”