During the early days of search, keywords were the single most important thing for promoting your website – simply stuffing your meta tags and your web page copy with keywords was enough to push your site to the top of primitive meta based search engines. Even when Google started to take over as the top search provider, manipulating your rankings with cleverly selected keywords was a fairly easy thing to do.
Over the last few years, however, that has changed, and there are now much more effective ways of promoting your website. This is especially true for people who run online stores. Today, Product Listing Ads are a great option for bringing in traffic to your website. A recent study conducted by AdGooroo found that the most successful online retail advertisers are allocating 63% of their search budgets to PLA. These graphical ad units have high CTRs, and convert well.
Another vertical that is taking over from keyword marketing is mobile. Users are spending more time in apps than they are in the web browser, and they are using more location-aware services for their search. Traditional keywords are still useful, but targeting mobile users who are nearby and have a strong purchase intent is a much better option. The market for mobile search is highly fragmented, with dozens of different niche-specific (and device specific) apps for marketers to target, but those who are willing to invest the time in being visible in the right apps stand to do very well.
Even Google acknowledges the death of keywords, albeit not explicitly. The search engine recently removed the ability to target exact keyword matches in AdWords, allowing only “close variants”. This means marketers have less control over which users see their keywords. It’s only a small leap to imagine that the search giant will eventually start to push more heavily towards keyword-less advertising, based purely on interests, remarketing, newer forms of attribution modelling and individual surfer habits.
Keyword search is still important, but there are a growing number of contenders looking to take over the advertising crown. The death of keywords might seem like a crisis for data-hungry search marketers, but the next few years will be exciting for those that are willing to investigate new advertising options and continue to develop their skills. It’s about time that the world of search marketing went through a shake-up.