How SEM Changed In 2020

Every year brings about new changes that marketers need to pay close attention to.

Chapter 1

How SEM Changed In 2020

Every year brings about new changes that marketers need to pay close attention to. While traditional marketing approaches are still effective and you should continue to adhere to the search engine marketing (SEM) best practices, there are a few trends that are gaining a lot of traction this year that you should also keep an eye on and begin implementing into your own strategies.


Let’s take a look.

Blending SEO And SEM

There is still a large population of marketers that treat SEO and SEM as an either-or situation. Either you invest in paid PPC ads (SEM), or you build up your site authority and organic rankings through SEO tactics.


The truth is that, as the Internet becomes more and more competitive,— search engines in particular —marketers can no longer rely on one or the other. Instead, they need to develop strategic ways to blend the two sides together.


After all, these two sides of online paid search advertising share a lot of similarities. For instance, the keyword research that you collect from your paid ads can actually help you make better, informed decisions in your SEO content. Meanwhile, what you learn from your SEO strategies can help you make better keyword bids on Google Ads.


When businesses are able to achieve paid and organic listings for the same search result, it doubles their visibility on the SERPs and increases the likelihood of drawing a click.

Rising Voice Searches

A commonly cited statistic is that 50% of all searches in 2020 will involve the user’s voice. This stat points to the increasing market penetration of virtual personal assistant products, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Siri, Cortana and other virtual assistants have already been popularized by their respective smartphone devices.


It’s hard to imagine that the shift to voice search will be as staggering as 50%, but it is definitely on the rise and marketers need to know how it impacts them and what they need to do to prepare. First, voice searches are longer, which means the importance of incorporating long-tail keyword phrases into SEM campaigns will start to increase.


The language used in voice searches is also more conversational and typically question-based. This is also going to change how marketers need to approach their keyword research.

A New Age For Cookies And Retargeting

For years now, marketers have enjoyed the power of remarketing through SEM. This strategy relies on cookie data, which tracks site visitors after they leave a website. The tracking, supported by Google Ads, then allows marketers to target these past visitors with ads all over the Internet.


In the beginning of 2020, Google announced a new plan to restrict the use of third-party cookie data for the Chrome browser. This is Google’s effort to ensure that the privacy and security of its users is maintained. However, it is bad news for marketers that need these cookies for their remarketing campaigns.


There are already some proposed solutions, like Google’s “privacy sandbox,” which would aim to anonymize user data, while still providing marketers with actionable remarketing targets. It is an evolving situation that marketers definitely should pay attention to for this year and next!

Moving Beyond Google Ads

More and more marketers are feeling choked by competition on Google Ads. The platform is easily the most popular advertising platform and where many marketers begin their SEM journey. This comes at a cost. With more and more businesses turning to Google Ads, the bidding floor becomes more and more crowded.


As a result, many marketers are starting to look elsewhere for online advertising. Last year, Amazon overhauled its advertising platform, which has been steadily gaining more and more attention ever since. LinkedIn Advertising is another notable choice, especially for B2B companies, as it helps users connect directly to their niche audiences.

Video Advertising Surges

As marketing gurus left and right were swearing on the written word and the power of articles and blogs, videos not-so-quietly became the most popular content type out there. In response, video ads have also grown into an important ad format.


Despite the growing importance of video content, there are still a lot of marketers that have yet to include video advertising into their SEM strategy. Don’t keep sleeping on video content! Get together with your team and decide how you can begin utilizing video advertising before the market becomes too saturated with paid video ads.

Machine Learning Continues To Drive Automation In PPC

Innovations in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to grow in sophistication each year. This has been a growing trend over several years now and it impacts many dimensions of marketing.


More and more advertisers are using these AI tools to automate certain elements of their PPC accounts. When labor-intensive tasks can be automated with algorithms and machine learning, marketers can spend more of their time and attention on more significant tasks that require a careful approach.


Google has a number of AI-powered options available to marketers for free. For example, automated bidding strategies have caused many Google Ads users to completely abandon the manual bidding approach.


Responsive search ads are another new and interesting feature that uses AI. With this type of search ad, marketers can enter a number of different headlines and ad descriptions. Then, with careful data check and machine learning, the responsive search ad feature will test various combinations of the ad components.


The system pays attention to what types of users respond best to what ad combinations. Over time, responsive search ads are able to produce stronger and more relevant results through these continuous tests.


Trends like PPC automation, new niche advertising platforms and video ads are positive changes to SEM in 2020. However, it isn’t all bright skies. How the marketing community navigates the changes to cookie data and the rising competition on search engines is still a story that is unfolding each and every day.


How SEM changed in 2020 will be defined by how these new obstacles are handled. It is critical that you continue to pay attention to these key trends and adapt accordingly


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