30 second summary:

  • 2020 laid the foundation for one of the most disruptive and fluid years Search has ever seen.
  • Local search and Google My Business (GMB) will be major focal points for search engine advertisers and marketers given the shifts in search activity of the COVID era.
  • Google continues to take steps to further integrate ecommerce into search.
  • Manual text ads appear to be on shaky ground in 2021.
  • Ashley Fletcher, Vice President of Marketing at Adthena shares five must-know products to look for in 2021.

From algorithm changes to shifts in search activity as a result of COVID-19, 2020 was one of the most disruptive years the search industry has ever seen. And while positive steps have been taken to contain COVID-19, a “return to normal” seems a long way off. However, as the COVID-19 vaccine increases the chance for search habits to return from the non-COVID era, search professionals are working hard to find out what changes in the industry may remain and which may fade at the beginning of the world’s long overdue COVID relief to get. This means that the search landscape in 2021 is likely to be just as unpredictable for evolution as it was in 2020.

With that in mind, here are three key areas that search engine advertisers and marketers should pay particular attention to as they transition into and through 2021.

Doubling on GMB and local search

Do you remember when Google My Business (GMB) was just a helpful little tool for search advertising and marketing? Those days are now behind us.

GMB makes up 33% of the rankings of local businesses and is a major factor in search engine optimization today. Additionally, advertisers and marketers need to optimize their search strategies appropriately and keep abreast of improvements as local networks become increasingly important due to the COVID-19 pandemic as more users choose to stay close to their home on GMB .

Greater consideration of voice search

With 157 million Amazon echoes in US households at the start of 2020, voice search is poised to continue to play an important role in searching going forward. Given that more smart speakers are to be purchased in the coming years, voice search is likely to switch from a secondary to a primary voice channel in a short period of time. With these new opportunities and the need to rethink PPC, advertisers should therefore think about how to streamline their search from traditional keyword search logic to spoken, word-centered phrases.

Buy directly from Google? Watch out Amazon

Ecommerce is expected to be one of the most intriguing areas of search in 2021 as Google continues to suggest that shopping will be a major destination for the future platform. For years, Google has been signaling that shopping and e-commerce are important focal points of its platform. With the introduction of features such as Smart Shopping, Google has never been in a better position to drive sales directly through its SERPs. This means that not only should Amazon be on high alert, but traditional retail advertisers will have to seriously consider their search strategies in the year ahead.

The end of the text ad?

Could 2021 be the end of the road for text ads? That has been the question for search pros, especially since Google temporarily stopped the ability to create text ads in October – not to mention the smaller-scale ability to create ETAs disappeared from Google Ads’ dropdown menus in August. Given the added emphasis on smart bidding, it seems that manual text ads could have a finite lifespan at best, and 2021 could be the year that search staple will be completely phased out.

Agree with uncertainty

Search engine advertisers are used to adapting to constantly changing circumstances. But 2021 could take the term “evolution” to an extreme. From a better understanding of search patterns during the COVID era to the question of which trends are staying here and which are just fads, 2021 will be a very difficult year for search professionals to find their way around – let alone always get it right. With this in mind, it has never been more important for search professionals to immerse themselves in both technology and teamwork to make sense of the future. Additionally, search professionals must step into 2021 with a whole new perspective on flexibility. Simply put, search advertising is set to map entirely unfamiliar waters in 2021, and given the fact that uncertainty is the new normal search pros, it will likely be a lot easier to adapt to these new circumstances.

Final remark

While 2020 has faced the search industry with unprecedented uncertainty, 2021 could be a time of even greater unpredictability as several fundamental changes are likely to take place within space. By keeping an eye on these emerging areas and the game plan now, search engine advertisers and marketers can not only avoid potential headaches and mounting pains, but they can also empower themselves to accelerate success as quickly as possible.

Ashley Fletcher is Vice President of Marketing at Adthena.