What will your buyers be searching for this time next year? 

What new challenges will they be facing that drive their needs?

How will they describe these pain points? 

And what factors will be most important to how they address these challenges?

If you and your marketing team could answer these questions, then you could create a bullet-proof marketing plan. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that there’s a lot of truth behind the old “best laid plans” adage – and we need to be prepared for things to go awry.

Luckily, there are ways to stay on the cusp of changing buying patterns and adapt your content and marketing efforts so that you stay on top of emerging search patterns. This future-forward SEO approach is key to being found by tomorrow’s buyers.

A Quick Primer on SEO

SEO is a long-game based on trust, expertise, authoritativeness and competition. That means that the tech marketers who recognize changing buying preferences first and begin to create content around these new needs will have established greater authoritativeness over their competitors, making them more visible in search.

Get ahead of searchers with content geared toward the future – not the past.

Traditionally in SEO, we look at current and historic search patterns to determine priorities. Do searches for “clean tech” solutions typically spike just before the summer months when air quality declines? Then, traditionally we’d prioritize content around solution selection in Q1 to be prepared for this influx. Is telemedicine currently a more popular search term than telehealth? OK, we’ll prioritize the use of telemedicine. 

But relying on such past data isn’t going to help us get ahead of changing search trends. So how do you do so without a data science degree or a background in predictive analytics?

Below are three helpful tools to monitor:

1. Google autofill – You don’t need any new tech solutions to start to get insights on how buyers are searching and how those searches are changing over time. Simply start typing in Google’s search bar, and the search engine will auto-populate similar search terms. Try entering terms around your industry, your solution(s) and the problems you solve, and look at the other suggestions provided by Google. Start doing this regularly, and you’ll be able to see what’s changing in Google’s suggestion list. New suggestions may indicate a changing need that you should consider adapting to.

2. Google TrendsGoogle Trends is a more sophisticated, data-backed way for tech marketers to look for, well, trends. Typing in a term related to your business will not only show changes in search volume for that particular term, but also geographic breakdowns, and most notably, emerging themes and terms related to that topic.

For example, while Google Trends shows us that searches for “phishing” have remained fairly stable over the past year, searches for “barrel phishing” and “drive by download” have skyrocketed. Cybersecurity marketers that were the first to notice this search trend had an immediate content marketing advantage – if they put it to use.

3. SEMrush Keyword Magic – The most robust tool of this list, but also the only one that requires a paid subscription, Keyword Magic provides detailed data on search terms, trendlines and competition. The screenshots below show trendlines for three terms related to data centers. Brands that caught the initial inflection points circled below were poised to prepare the content needed to dominate these growing search trends.

Now, use that search data to inform your marketing and sales strategy.

The first step in putting your newfound knowledge of emerging search trends to use is to map these keywords into your content strategy. 

Creating compelling content surrounding emerging topics in the forms of blogs, videos, thought leadership, web copy and more will help you build the trust, expertise and authoritativeness on which SEO relies.

And the earlier you do it when starting to notice a trend, the stronger advantage you’ll have.

With that foundation, you are then primed to enable your sales team, reprioritize ad spend and messaging, update email marketing copy and create new social copy – all ahead of your competition.

Staying ahead of changing search patterns takes dedication, but it’s certainly worth it. After all, you can’t rely on last year’s marketing strategy to reach next year’s goals. 

Need help staying on top of it all? Contact us.

As SVP of digital marketing and analytics and ARPR’s resident data geek, Renee bridges the gap between traditional PR and lead generation.

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