We’re into Q4 for 2017, and digital marketers and search engine marketers are already preparing for the year to come. The big question facing them is — do we continue doing what’s working for us, or do we undertake more adventures into uncharted waters of DM and SEM? There’s no one simple answer, of course; however, this guide will bring some of the most noteworthy search engine marketing trends to the fore, helping marketers decide which ones they wish to experiment with, and possibly make the most of the early mover advantage. Personalization As A Driver of More Fulfilling Customer Interactions I have always felt that personalization is the biggest trigger that drives most of the actions. Here are a couple of research studies that explain the impact and potential of personalization. 94% digital marketing professionals consider personalization critical to current and future success, as per a Monetate report. A HubSpot report suggests that personalized content performs almost 42% better than standardized content. Here’s how search engine marketers can leverage personalization for targeted marketing. Target the low-hanging fruits in your existing databases; for instance, client name, email address, frequent searches, etc. This information can be easily used to mobilize personalized email marketing campaigns that can feed traffic to your websites. Personalization can be leveraged to drive lead nurturing campaigns, and used to collect more useful data. With pretty affordable and useful SEM personalization tools on offer, there’s every reason for marketers to try things out in this direction. Evergage, for instance, is a great content marketing personalization tool. For more advanced personalization software, consider reading this useful guide. Leverage Micro Moments To Drive Conversions Mobile gadgets are the biggest external influencers in customer engagement; brands across the globe are realizing this. However, the concept of micro moment has not yet been fully leveraged by marketers. Micro moments are defined as the critical, evaluative touchpoints wherein customers seek immediate information from brands, with one or more specific intents in mind. From identifying the nutritional content of a superfood to a tutorial on using a power drill safely, consumers depend on their smartphones to immediately search for information that helps them act on intent. This intent could be: To know To do To go To buy Research shows that almost 96% users reach for their smartphones when they need to conduct immediate research. Brands that can fine tune their SEO, SEM, content marketing, and social media marketing to be able to satisfy customers during these micro moments stand to gain a lot. 2018 is the year when general knowledge about micro moments will increase, so marketers have every reason to quickly adopt the strategy before the market is saturated. Here’s a powerful micro moment marketing resource you’d want to bookmark. Investments in Education and Remunerations to Fill The ‘Talent’ Void One of the major concerns for brands is the widening talent gap that keeps them from achieving their DM and SEM goals. This is where the need to ramp up in-house expertise becomes important. Marketers are expected to grow their expertise. This is where online digital marketing authority websites and courses become important. Opting for an advanced SEO certification will certainly help. Market Motive’s Advanced SEO course by Danny Dover can be a good choice. HR Professionals have a greater role to play in this regard. They will also need to re-design compensation packages for pioneering digital marketing experts who consistently deliver good ROIs on campaigns. Prepare to Optimize Your SEO For Voice Search Apart from micro moments, the smartphone era has ushered in the idea of voice search. Increasingly, consumers are using voice to search for the information they need. The recent launch of Google Home Mini, for instance, succinctly captured the focus of tech giants on delivering products and services around ‘voice’ inputs. Natural language processing and AI technologies have now reached a stage where they can be incorporated in any service to make the experience a lot more natural, value adding and enriching for the user. Voice Search is right up there. This Search Engine Watch article captures the rise of voice search and what it means for marketers. Claim your Google Business listing and provide all your information to Google; this helps you understand the key focus areas of voice search relevant keyword analyses campaigns you’ll need to manage for local SEO. Look for advanced keyword research training and courses to be able to devise strategies around conversational keywords; these keywords are expected to be the backbone of Google’s voice search system. Invest in content around FAQs to incorporate direct conversational phrases as subheadings. Structured data markup also becomes all the more important from a voice SEO point of view. Deep Insight Driven By Big Data Essentially, your content is just data. And Google’s algorithms work by treating content as data. This means that digital marketers and search engine marketers have to stay on track with Google’s pace of advancement in search algorithms. One way to do this is to adopt big data and analytics systems for their small businesses and brands. Five years back, big data would have broken the back of any small business. However, because of market competition, easy availability of storage and computing resources, and ever growing volumes of data generated by all kinds of businesses, big data solutions are not a practical choice for many. Big data can offer big insights for any brand. Because of big data, SEO can now keep track of keywords, on page and off page optimization, backlinks, local SEO, global SEO, mobile optimization, content quality guidelines compliance, and SEO ROIs. I strongly recommend you check out this guide to using big data for SEO, with practical examples. To begin with, you might want to consider some of the big data solutions for small businesses. Final Thoughts This guide is an attempt to capture the most important developments and trends from the world of SEO, SEM, Content Marketing and digital marketing. Brands that can acknowledge these and align their strategies for 2018 to incorporate these stand to win.