By Valerie Noel, Bayshore Solutions Senior Digital Marketing Account Manager.

2016 SMX East conference on the latest SEO trends and tipsLast week I had the opportunity to attend the Search Marketing Expo (SMX) East in New York City. This three day conference attracts marketers from all over the world. This was my first time at SMX East but I am already looking forward to attending again so that I can see first-hand how much changes in a year’s time – and based on the nature of search engine marketing, there will be a lot of changes this time next year.

While experiencing this year’s whirlwind of trends, tools, and strategic tips at SMX East, it occurred to me that The discipline of SEO is a cauldron of alphabet soup acronyms that marketers need to conceptualize in order to be “Fluent” and effective in wielding their skills.

So, by way of recapping some of the current digital topics, below are the buzzwords (and their acronyms) that were most mentioned over the three days at 2016’s SMX East. This time next year some of these will likely have been replaced, but some of these may have staying power, we’ll have to wait and see!

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs) –

Both Google AdWords and Bing Ads now offer increased character limits for pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Previous text ads were maxed at the following character limits:

SMX 2016 covered imporvements to standard PPC text ads

ETAs more than double the amount of space in each PPC ad!  As you can see here:

2016 SMX explained Expanded Text Ads

Ads can also have ad extensions that increase their presence on the search engine result page (SERP) even more. These changes to PPC show a preference from the search engines because they impact how far a user must scroll before getting to the organic results. What does that mean for you? If you’re running a PPC campaign you should get with your Google partner agency and test expanded text ads to make sure you’re maximizing your ad dollars.

If you aren’t utilizing PPC but your competitors are, you may be losing out on valuable visits.

Product Listing Ads (PLAs) –

If you run PPC ads, sell a tangible product, and have photos of your products, you should be utilizing PLAs. By now everyone is familiar with the text ads that appear on Google and Bing, but now these search engines are making shopping even easier by showing people the products they are searching for before landing on the site.

Here’s a sample of a search for blue women’s running shoes:

PLA example from 2016 SMX East Conference

The PLAs appear first – before the first text ad, and well before the first organic result. The inclusion of pictures and prices provide more information than can be contained in a text ad – even an expanded text ad!

Featured Snippets –

(OK, there isn’t really an acronym here, but there is an opportunity for your business!)

I’ll let Google provide this definition directly:

Featured Snippets on Organic search Listings were explained at 2016 SMX East

You may have noticed that box appear for certain searches but did you know what it was called? I know I didn’t, and I use search engines all day every day. Now that we know their name the next logical questions is: how can your site achieve placement as a featured snippet?

An overview of how to get featured snippets in Google for your website involves:

  • Identify a common, simple question your target customers ask about your product or service (starting with How to… or How do I… is a great format).
  • Provide a clear and direct answer to the question in your web page content, and optimize this page.

This article from Search Engine Land, the hosts of SMX East, provides a great guide.

Search Experience Optimization (SXO?) –

You’ve probably heard the acronym SEO many, many, many times (I know I have) and that is because optimizing a website for search engines, a.k.a. Search Engine Optimization, is crucial due to the ever evolving nature of search. However with the increasing importance placed on user experience, there is also a case to be made for placing the emphasis on optimizing the search experience, while still optimizing for the search engine.

What is a search experience? An example given by speaker Purna Virji was to tell Siri “I am hungry.”  So I gave this a try while I was in the Hell’s Kitchen area of Manhattan and when I told Siri I was hungry, she displayed a map with the nearest places to eat near me. If this has been an actual search and I had decided I wanted pizza and placed an order for delivery there is a very good chance I would have called and placed my order without ever landing on the website for the pizza shop.

Alternatively, while on my desktop back in Bayshore’s Tampa office, I searched Google for “I am hungry” and the results included a quiz to determine what I should eat right now, recipes, and a map result of the nearest restaurants.

This is just one example but something very important to consider. When someone searches for something related to your product or business, what will their experience be like before they arrive at your website? If you’re a local business, making sure you appear in the map results is crucial. If you’re an e-commerce site, maybe utilizing PLAs is the right way to go. Either way, make sure you consider the user’s search experience even before they land on your website.

Here are two search experience dynamics to consider in your digital content marketing strategy:

  • Tap vs. Click – How did you arrive at this page that you’re viewing right now? Did you use a link in an email? See a post on social media? More importantly, did you click the link or did you tap it with your finger? This term was used in the context of mobile users and how using “Click Here” in a link may soon become outdated because people can’t click if they are not on their desktop. Something to consider when you’re writing your next social media post!
  • Voice Search – Of all the terms used at SMX East, this one definitely has the most staying power. A statistic touted in multiple sessions referenced ComScore’s estimate that by the year 2020, 50% of searches will come from voice. We’re already seeing this impact the content that we create for clients, making sure we’re addressing long-tail queries that answer searcher’s questions. Voice search will continue impacting not only keyword research and content creation, but also the way that we build websites. Just ask yourself how often do you utilize your voice assistant?

The items above just scratch the surface of current concepts and expressions in search marketing.  For a more comprehensive understanding of what to look out for and the opportunities available to best digitally market your business, team up with the SEO experts at Bayshore Solutions today.

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