It’s a seachange that has been percolating beneath the surface for a couple of years now in the search marketing world. But, it’s been discussed, talked about, and ideated upon in TED circles for nearly a decade by the thought leaders you know by name: Seth Godin, Allison Hunt, Dan Gilbert, Malcolm Gladwell, etc. The next paradigm in search marketing is the inverse of the model applied today; to go beyond the nearly-infinite data points collected from search, site, ad, and display data to construct the outline of a consumer.
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Google: The Impetus for the Human Shift
Digital marketing, as a whole, started to get “human” last two years, and at SMX West this year, I think, the idea finally toppled the keyword-and-link-barbarians at the gates into search marketing. It’s finally arrived; it’s broken through the surface, mostly with the help of Google.
Google’s RankBrain, a machine-learning algorithm, in combination with Google’s Knowledge Graph, has made it evident that next evolution of search (and search marketing) is not strings of keyword phrases woven and stitched together on a page, but that of relevance and context.
Those are two uniquely human characteristics of information – understanding and determining relevance based on context. That the micro-moments of consumer intents and needs, and satisfying those needs through user experience, emotional content connections, and narratives, is the next evolution in search.
What is the Human Paradigm Shift in Search Marketing?
Simply stated, the human paradigm is putting the consumer, the human, at the center of our marketing efforts. Making a shift laterally, to understand consumers’ behaviors, motivations, and intents. It’s about moving toward becoming behavioral marketers – something traditional marketers and advertisers have been doing since the beginning.
Search marketing has always been better with leveraging data, and traditional marketers have been better at leveraging consumer behaviors. Now: we are all at the intersection, as marketers, of behavior and data.
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The Future of Search Marketing
Search marketing, in particular, is moving from treating consumers like data points and keywords that topographically fill them in, to understanding them as people. To internalize their intents, their motivations, their behaviors, and their lives. And, then letting the data fill in the gaps.
This is not to say that search marketers can’t or shouldn’t use data to illuminate consumer behaviors, needs, and wants. However, we need to think critically about that data to hypothesize, discover, and uncover what leads to this search or that search. What are consumers thinking about, trying to solve for, when they decide to click this article or that article? Why did consumers purchase this product or that product based on this search?
The new, more human approach to search marketing has the ability to transform the digital ecosystem.