5 Vital Search Marketing Strategies for 2017 & 2018

5 vital search marketing strategies for 2017-2018

Let’s face it, search has always been important online. Now, however, with more than 1 billion websites out there (and more being created every minute of every day), getting found remains the most important challenge for any web marketer.

That’s not news. But there are new developments in search all the time, and keeping up with the play is a challenge even for the most dedicated marketers, whether you’re based in Timaru or Timbuktu, in Wellington or Wyoming.

So we’ve been putting together a comprehensive presentation about those search marketing developments that matter for 2017 and 2018. And here, from that presentation, are five vital search marketing strategies that you need to master today.

1 You must optimise for ALL search tools (not just Google and Bing)

As CopyBlogger points out:

YouTube has long been hailed as “the world’s second-most popular search engine.” If you’re producing videos, they need to surface for relevant searches on YouTube.

The same concept applies to Apple Podcasts (formerly iTunes). You better believe I thought long and hard about my optimization strategy for the world’s most popular podcast search engine when I launched a new show recently.

And think about how many searches Facebook must be getting these days. Even Twitter too. Your social posts are one step removed from your website content … but still one step closer than the person searching was a few seconds prior.

Implications for marketers: The Web is no longer “one size fits all”. If you are only optimising for Google, you could be missing a large chunk of potential customers who rely on Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Amazon, eBay, Trade Me and especially (as we’ll discuss below) Google Images to provide their content and their guidance. Review your search strategies to determine where else you might focus your efforts.

2 Lack of Speed Kills

As you may have heard, Google is currently testing a “Mobile First” index, aiming to roll it out “soon” (SearchEngineLand reckons it won’t be until 2018, but even that is just around the corner).

So what’s a “Mobile First” index?

Google explains:

Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.

To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.

There’s a problem, though. Google isn’t just looking for content when indexing mobile sites. It also evaluates other parameters, most especially page-loading speed.

AJ Ghergich shares some bad news for at least one big brand marketer:

I read an article the other day that Lululemon’s website was having some issues. They’re obviously a really big company – I picked them to test out their site.

Based on my initial tests, Google estimated that the page took 15 seconds to load, which Google says could be losing you up to 32% of your visitors. Also, the site didn’t pass the usability guidelines – that can come down site congestion, maybe they were having a heavy load, things like that.

When you test your site, test it every 5 or 10 minutes. Test it again and get an average going so that you have a fair representation.

The next test I conducted was seven seconds – still not great, still not passing usability guidelines. The next one was also seven seconds, and the one after that was eight seconds. I think the 7 to 8-second range is probably more reliable, but it does show that during heavy load, it might spike up to 15 seconds. Still not acceptable.

AJ’s blunt conclusion:

If your mobile metrics suck, your rankings will suck

Implications for marketers: You know all those fancy bells and whistles that you added to make your website look great? Sorry, these days that may be just enough to send your site hurtling to the bottom of the rankings (and not just that, but also driving your existing and  prospective customers away, screaming “Too slow! Too slow!”).

Also take a look at Amplified Mobile Pages, which can dramatically increase your speed (but do come with some cautions, which we discuss in our Search Marketing 2017 presentation).

We still remember (unfondly) the earliest days of the World Wide Web in New Zealand, when Xtra’s homepage consisted of a dominant, massive (in 1990s Internet terms) graphic that took simply forever to load. Learn from their example, and from endless Fast & Furious movies, about the need for speed.

3 Focus on “Searcher Task Accomplishment”

According to Moz:

… there’s a new ranking factor in town, and it’s a doozy. The idea of searcher task accomplishment is a compelling argument for how we should be optimizing our sites. Are they actually solving the problems searchers seek answers for?

Now, I want to be clear. This is not something that’s directly in Google’s algorithm for sure. It’s just that they’re measuring a lot of things that lead us to this conclusion. This is essentially what Google is optimizing toward with all of their ranking signals, and therefore it’s what SEOs nowadays have to think about optimizing for with our content. And that is searcher task accomplishment.

So what do I mean by this? Well, look, when someone does a search like “disinfect a cut,” they’re trying to actually accomplish something. In fact, no matter what someone is searching for, it’s not just that they want a set of results. They’re actually trying to solve a problem. For Google, the results that solve that problem fastest and best and with the most quality are the ones that they want to rank.

In the past, they’ve had to do all sorts of algorithms to try and get at this from obtuse angles. But now, with a lot of the work that they’re doing around measuring engagement and with all of the data that’s coming to them through Chrome and through Android, they’re able to get much, much closer to what is truly accomplishing the searcher’s task. That’s because they really want results that satisfy the query and fulfill the searcher’s task.

So pretty much every — I’m excluding navigational searches — but every informational and transactional type of search — I mean, navigational, they just want to go to that website — but informational and transactional search query is basically this. It’s I have an expression of need. That’s what I’m telling Google. But behind that, there’s a bunch of underlying goals, things that I want to do. I want to know information. I want to accomplish something. I want to complete an activity.

When I do that, when I perform my search, I have this sort of evaluation of results. Is this going to help me do what I want? Then I choose one, and then I figure out whether that result actually helps me complete my task. If it does, I might have discovery of additional needs around that, like once you’ve answered my disinfect a cut, now it’s, okay, now I kind of want to know how to prevent an infection, because you described using disinfectant and then you said infections are real scary. So let me go look up how do I prevent that from happening. So there’s that discovery of additional needs. Or you decide, hey, this did not help me complete my task. I’m going to go back to evaluation of results, or I’m going to go back to my expression of need in the form of a different search query.

That’s what gives Google the information to say, “Yes, this result helped the searcher accomplish their task,” or, “No, this result did not help them do it.”

Implications for marketers: Is your website content helping searchers to accomplish their tasks? If not, reconsider your content.

4 The Surprising Importance of Google Image Search

As it happens, the second most powerful search engine is in fact Google Image Search, accounting for more than a quarter of total web searches, as this Moz graph shows:


SearchEngineLand offers up some tips to improve your results on Google Images:

Google values relevance and quality in returning search results and thus, user experience feedback is a strong signal to Google for ranking purposes. Thus, the more popular an image and the more clicks it gets, the higher the ranking. Below are a few tips for providing a good user experience with your images:

Make sure that your images are of good quality and are appealing. That might seem obvious, but go on LinkedIn and see how many bad profile pictures people post of themselves. A survey by Shotfarm, which distributes product images for manufacturers, found that consumers say product descriptions and images are critical to their decision-making, with the vast majority of consumers saying they are important (30 percent) or very important (63 percent). In other words, consumers extrapolate the quality of an image to that of the product or service. So better pictures boost clicks which will boost ranking of that image.

While overly large image file size hurts page load time, reducing the file size does not mean you have to sacrifice quality. There are ways to strip out unnecessary data and many online tools that can help optimize images for your website.  Try JPEGMini, PunyPNG or Kraken.io

While Google doesn’t take the same liberties in cropping images in search results that they do with Google profile pics, it remains important to understand how the image will look in search results. Images that don’t fit the more standard image ratios, such as 16:9 or 4:3, tend to be resized to fit those dimensions. Also, images such as large group pics that lose any valuable detail when reduced to thumbnail size will likely fail to draw attention or clicks.

Implications for marketers: Images are far more important than you probably thought, and not just for the obvious “worth a thousand words” reason. We talk a whole lot more about images in our Search Marketing report, but even if you don’t read that, know this: sorry writers, images can be much more powerful online than words — but only if used correctly.


5 Content is, it turns out, indeed King (of the Search Results)

We were just about to do this (yeah, right!) but then Cognitive SEO popped up with some fascinating results gleaned from examining 40,000 keywords and around 4 million pieces of content. Here’s what they found:

A high content performance will (almost) guarantee you a top Google position. There is a very strong correlation between a high content performance scores and ranking on a high position.

In essence, the better the content quality, the higher you can expect to rank on Google.


To be honest, we’re not that surprised. We already saw, as we were putting together our Content Marketing presentation, that Content and SEO are intertwined. This research simply confirms that situation.

Implications for marketers: If you want to be found in the Search results, do the hard yards and create effective, compelling, relevant content. It’s that simple — and that difficult.



You’ve just read about five important strategies for effective Search Marketing, but there are plenty more to consider as well. To meet the demand for useful, up-to-date, NZ-relevant information about Search Marketing, next week we will release the presentation NZ Search Marketing 2017. This is the third presentation in our New Zealand Marketing Insights series, which began with our NZ Consumer Trends 2017 presentation and was followed by our NZ Content Marketing 2017 presentation.


We just wanted to let you know a little more about this new Search Marketing presentation.

The presentation looks ahead at what marketers should expect and plan for in 2017 and 2018 — based on local and global trends you may not yet have had the opportunity to examine — turning those forecasts into a comprehensive report & slide deck in PowerPoint format (with accompanying notes) – information that you can easily present to your team and your clients, bringing everyone up to speed on the latest New Zealand Marketing Insights as we accelerate through what remains of 2017. All presentations are unbranded, so you can add your own branding and comments.

All of our presentations in this Marketing Insights series consist of at least 150 slides, dealing with as many key insights.


In this presentation, we’ll wax lyrical about a wide ranging collection of topics, including:

Mobile Really Must Be First
In May 2015, Google reported that mobile searches had surpassed desktop searches on its search engine. Since then, the company has taken many steps which signal that mobile, not desktop, should be considered as the default user experience. Google is moving towards giving priority to mobile-centric indexing, which means that your website must as well.

Three Seconds is the New Fast
According to a study Google presented in late 2016, website that gain priority in search results will be expected to load in three seconds or less. That’s simply a recognition by Google of the impatience of mobile-wielding web surfers. As you might imagine, that has direct implications for your website structure — and whether or not you opt for accelerated mobile pages (AMP) or Progressive Web Apps (PWA), which allow a website to work as if it were an app.

How Machine Learning is Revolutionising Google Search
Google CEO Sundar Pichai laid out the corporate mindset: “Machine learning is a core, transformative way by which we’re rethinking how we’re doing everything. We are thoughtfully applying it across all our products, be it search, ads, YouTube, or Play. And we’re in early days, but you will see us — in a systematic way — apply machine learning in all these areas.”

Perils of the Google Answer Box
In 2017/18, brands will need to place value on optimizing their digital content based on intent rather than specific keywords. As you have no doubt noticed, Google has become more and more likely to offer up specific answers rather than simply links to search results.

For example, here’s Google’s answer to the query “what is the height of mt egmont”:


So how do you get chosen to be the answer to such a query (and is it a good idea to be the Google Snippet)? We explore the options.

Google Shopping Now in NZ
Google Shopping has arrived in New Zealand and is likely to play a larger and larger role in commerce-based search queries. We look at the players so far and examine the possibilities.

Big Data + Search = Attribution Challenges
Today’s conversion paths are extremely complex and as a result, micro-moments matter more than ever. Engaging with customers’ days, weeks, and even months before they’re ready to convert is going to be the new norm.

Reconsider Bing
Bing is a big player amongst the new breed of digital assistants. It’s fueling the search of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, apart from being the default search engine of Microsoft’s Cortana. Ignore it at your peril.

The Move to Natural Language Queries
Why does Google have this irresistible interest in natural language? Sure, on an ideal level, it’s because Google wants “to provide the better answer to users’ needs,” and to do that, Google must:

  • Understand what each web document is about (semantics);
  • Understand what users are actually searching for, now that more and more using their voice to search

Voice Search
Already 20% of mobile queries are Voice Search (and will be 50% in 2020, according to Microsoft). Voice Search is going above and beyond voice recognition and evolving into voice understanding. This involves several changes with respect to:

  • previous searches
  • location-based context
  • context based on frequently used apps
  • personalised information
  • keyword research based on spoken queries

How should marketers modify their content to cope with those new voice search parameters?

The Search Marketing presentation also looks at:

  • the big challenges of cross-channel marketing
  • getting to know Google RankBrain
  • image recognition searches
  • Key SEO Stats
  • Google’s top 3 ranking signals
  • User Experience Optimisation
  • Content Marketing That Impacts SEO
  • and, of course, a whole lot more

Each Marketing Insights presentation is available to purchase and reuse, for $597 plus GST (with volume discounts available for purchases of multiple presentations).

To purchase the Search Marketing presentation by credit card via PayPal, please click here:

sign up now

If you would prefer to pay by bank deposit or require an invoice before making payment, please send an email to [email protected] with details of your request. (The service provider will be shown as Netmarketing Services Limited in your transaction and on your credit card statement).

Your purchase will be confirmed by email and download instructions will be provided to you, usually within a few hours.



We’ve already talked about the relationship between Search Marketing and Content Marketing. You might also like to check out our Content Marketing presentation:


Here’s what the Content Marketing presentation covers:

  • The three types of content regarded as most important for effective content optimisation in 2017
  • The convergence of SEO and Content Marketing and what that means for marketing and communications professionals
  • Search intents across mobile and desktop, how and why they are different and the implications
  • The surprising new importance of voice search (and what marketers are doing about it)
  • What marketers think about artificial intelligence and its importance for the future of content marketing


Content Marketing as Defensive Mechanism
So many people are talking — not always positively — about brands and companies online, and organisations don’t always get the chance to present their own point of view as part of that conversation. As a result, many are turning to Content Marketing as a means to get their message out there.

Talking to Your Own
Content marketing has also seen itself become an internal PR tool, used to communicate in a planned and more effective manner with staff, dealers and suppliers. How are you ensuring that your own people know what they should about your organisation?

Overcoming “Content Shock”
Even when marketers do invest in Content Marketing, there are challenges. One of the biggest challenge: getting heard out there, amongst the ever-increasing cacophony of social media posts, blogs, video and all. It’s been dubbed “Content Shock” — and we look at how to deal with it.

Content Will Get useful or Get Ignored
Smart marketers will begin to invest in bigger content projects such as creating free and robust online tools, writing the go-to books in their industries, and creating environments where their customers can build a community to share knowledge

content marketers will be held accountable not just for how much content they create, but what it does for the business (much like demand generation teams).

Other topics that feature in this presentation include:

  • Personalisation
  • Engagement
  • Data-driven Insights
  • Interactive Experiences
  • Face-to-face Opportunities & Live Events
  • challenges of developing engaging visual content
  • the talent shortage
  • Algorithm-driven content distribution
  • Live video
  • compelling content experiences
  • the emergence of AI journalism
  • Immersive Content Formats
  • Science-based content marketing
  • The rise of the Content Librarian
  • The continuing rise of paid promotion and the decline of organic reach

You can purchase BOTH the Content Marketing and Search Marketing presentations together for just $1094+GST (and save yourself $100). Click here to pay for the two presentations by credit card via PayPal.

If you would prefer to pay by bank deposit or require an invoice before making payment, please send an email to [email protected] with details of your request. (The service provider will be shown as Netmarketing Services Limited in your transaction and on your credit card statement).

The Content Marketing presentation will be provided to you right away, as soon as we process your purchase. The Search Marketing presentation will be provided to you as soon as it is published.