There’s never a bad time to reevaluate your search engine marketing plan.

Here, you’ll find:

  • What Google has in store for search in 2022 and beyond
  • Which new tools could enhance your SEM
  • The latest standout SEM trends
  • Tips for SEM success

The search engine marketing (SEM) landscape continues to change faster than you can flip calendar pages. From algorithm updates to the eventual sunsetting of third-party cookies, the industry is ever-evolving.

Because of that, it’s almost always a good idea to take stock of your SEM program — its strengths, weaknesses, and what new frontiers can be explored.

Whether you’ve already exceeded your 2022 goals or are working to make it happen before year’s end, this is a great time to make sure you’re strategies are poised for SEM success.

Below, we offer some ways to do just that.

1. Stay on top of the latest Google news

We already know Google rolls out dozens of updates each year. These updates vary in their impact and reach, and the search engine doesn’t always make it crystal-clear exactly how the changes will affect websites.

That’s why, when they do give people a heads up, it’s worth noting. Some recent changes Google has announced include:

A move toward better “information literacy”

In the past few years, misinformation has seemingly exploded online. Between people spreading articles they haven’t actually read and scammers posing as “experts,” it can be hard to decipher what is and isn’t credible information.

Google Fellow and Vice President of Search Pandu Nayak recently penned an article for Google’s blog outlining the steps its team is taking to combat misinformation and ensure their users get served accurate, high-quality search results.

This includes using their latest AI-powered Multitask Unified Model (MUM) to help determine what’s deserving of a featured snippet spot on the search engine results page (SERP). 

Additionally, Nayak says they’re working to:

  • Expand content advisories for information gaps
  • Expand its “About this result” to more places
  • Educate people about misinformation

Third-party cookie phase-out

In January 2020, Google announced its plans to phase out third-party cookies (which have been used in marketing to track, monitor and analyze a site visitor’s behavior) on Chrome by the end of 2022. 

It’s a move to quell growing online privacy concerns, with cookies slated to be replaced by “browser-based tools and techniques aimed at balancing personalization and privacy,” according to Marketing Land. 

Now, Google has pushed things back to 2024, giving marketers a bit more time to pivot.

This could affect your marketing strategies if you leverage advanced retargeting or remarketing tactics. The good news is that you have more than a year to learn how to pivot from relying on third-party cookies.

Pro tip: With third-party cookies on their way out, learning how to leverage first-party data successfully is more important than ever. 

person looking into an alley in the daytime through eyeglasses

As far as content types go, you can’t get much better than articles and other materials that aim to educate your audience. (Image: Unsplash)

2. Get familiar with Google Analytics 4

Google is constantly perfecting its tools. One prime example of this is its new and improved analysis platform, Google Analytics 4. Launched in October 2020, this machine learning-driven program can help you get more nuanced insights into customers’ behavior.

New features also include the ability to track users across different platforms, improve audience segmentation in Google Ads, and much more.

With Google planning to discontinue Universal Analytics in summer 2023, exploring this new opportunity as soon as possible can help you gain a competitive edge and streamline your SEM campaigns.

3. Beef up your educational content

As far as content types go, you can’t get much better than articles and other materials that aim to educate your audience. People love this kind of content because it provides a service and (ideally) helps them solve a problem or glean new information without having to make a purchase. 

With millions of people changing up their employment status in 2022, the need for educational content is on the rise. In fact, consumers are 131% more likely to buy a product after reading educational content, according to a recent study.

This content is a great incentive to include on a landing page in exchange for a user’s contact info. The time and money you invest in the educational content right now can bring impressive SEM success in the future.

4. Explore paid social advertising

The popularity of social media continues to rise, as more apps and features continue to roll out on a regular basis. 

The proof is in the data. Instagram now has over 1 billion monthly active users (that’s up from 500 million in 2019). Meanwhile, TikTok has more than 650 million monthly active users and counting.

Because of this, 2022 could be a great time to invest in paid social strategies. Social media ads are generally more affordable than other digital ad types, making them a smart diversification tactic. 

Depending on where your target audience is most active, you could explore ads on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Pinterest

Hand holding a light bulb for SEM success idea

Technical SEO is one of the more neglected SEO elements — it’s also one of the most crucial. (Image: Rawpixel)

5. Reevaluate your SEM spend

With a potential recession looming, some people are tightening up their budgets. As a result, it may be a good idea to reevaluate your PPC campaign budget to make sure you’re spending wisely and on the right marketing tactics.

A good plan of action: Single out the highest performing ads and keywords, then channel more of your PPC budget to support them. To pace your campaign spend better, you may consider such settings as lifetime spend or monthly spend limits instead of daily budgets.

6. Keep your technical SEO top notch

Search engine marketing isn’t all about paid search. Search engine optimization (SEO) is also key to SEM success, since both hinge on search engines.

SEO is a long game with results that often take more time to see than PPC efforts. But making sure that your SEO program is thorough and high-quality can keep you climbing up the organic rankings and growing your audience as a result.

Technical SEO is one of the more neglected SEO elements — it’s also one of the most crucial. Technical SEO is the term for the technical aspects of your site, such as your site architecture, metadata, and Schema markup, that search engines crawl to understand your site’s content.

An audit is the more thorough way to analyze your technical SEO. But if you want to take a quick glance at your current status, look at website elements such as:

  • Structured data
  • Site security
  • Page speed
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • Site architecture
  • Navigation
  • Internal links
  • URL structures
  • Metadata 

The takeaway

In digital marketing, as in life, it seems like the only constant is change.

But it’s also true that you can create campaigns with human-focused messages and initiatives that are set up to stand the test of time.

No matter what search engines throw our way this year and the next, these insights can help you craft strategies set up to see impressive results and SEM success.

This article has been updated and was originally published in June 2020.

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