Ahead of 2020, Clara Saladich looks at the key digital marketing trends in the search arena that will influence luxury brands – and suggests how to take advantage of them.
In the digital luxury sector, there has been a clear emergence of traditional PR migration to search engine optimisation (SEO) specialisation. The reason for this is that a brand’s SEO strategy is no longer a separate channel, but a fundamental element of the overall marketing plan.
Although luxury brands have been slower to adapt, the fast-paced nature of digital implementation worldwide means that companies are no longer able to ignore this change. It is more important now than ever for brands to invest into both an organic and paid-for search strategy.
Meet BERT: Google’s latest algorithm
Business have had to become savvier about how they push their brands forward due to Google’s constant algorithm changes. To ensure brands can continue to improve their search strategy, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and more, this new update needs to be taken into account with all SEO work.
Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird are some of the most significant algorithm updates that have shaken the digital landscape in recent years. The latest one, BERT, is enabling more conversational language to be used during the user’s search process.
“The BERT algorithm (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) is a deep learning algorithm related to natural language processing,” says search marketer Roger Montti. “It helps a machine to understand what words in a sentence mean, but with all the nuances of context.”
For luxury brands, this means the end consumer will now be able to receive much more relevant information through their search by being more conversational and personalised. This also shows that Google is trying to push voice search as a key channel for brands.
Segment through intent
Within digital luxury, brands have learned that the narrower their audience is, the more specific the message needs to be. A targeted keyword strategy is a tactic that helps brands capture an audience depending on the motive that drives the user at that specific moment. This is achieved by analysing the user’s behaviour by serving specific content at each stage of the customer journey.
For example, within luxury hospitality, the type of search a user conducts at a research stage differs from the type of search conducted by a user who has already booked a hotel. Therefore, as a brand, the content served at each stage needs to be unique, targeted and personalised. This can range from inspirational articles, ‘must-visit’ videos to ‘reasons to visit’, exclusive offers or promotions and more. In order for brands to serve their audience well, they must differentiate between the types of search users would normally conduct (informational, transactional or navigational) and use targeted keywords to narrow down a user’s purchase intent.
Implement SEO at the heart of your brand
Site architecture is one of the most important stages where SEO needs to be considered. If you understand the hierarchy of the page and how your consumer navigates through it, the keywords used on each page will differ and, therefore, the message that your consumer will receive at each stage will be more relevant and more effective.
The ‘zero-click’ hero
Recently there’s been a rise in zero-click searches. This means that consumers are receiving their requested information just by looking on the first page of Google search results, without needing to click on any pages. This means a luxury brand must ensure that information is optimised and clear so that results can be seen by target audience instantly. For a luxury hotel brand, for instance, this would mean displaying information such as contact details, room rate or even amenities available on the search results. This can be achieved through a search tool called Schema.
Images are worth a thousand words
Images have become increasingly important, with users using images to search directly for the product or service they are looking for. Therefore, optimising images by adding Alt descriptions and names can help further strengthen your search strategy. This is particularly important for fashion brands. When, for example, the phrase ‘gold-heeled sandal’ has been inputted into Google, if optimised Alt tags have been provided by the brand, this increases the likelihood of item appearing in Google search results.
Video is another huge asset to consider when establishing a luxury brand’s SEO strategy. Creative and engaging visuals are extremely important in luxury, so cultivating high-quality videography – and also optimising your YouTube videos and pages to make sure they are visible – can massively increase your rankings on search results.
Measuring intent through micro conversions
Sometimes, and even more so in the luxury sector, the end transaction is not the sole purpose of a brand. Adding micro conversion goals within your site will help you understand where your consumers want to go and the type of information that they need at each stage. This might be enquiring for more information through watching a video.
You can do this by adding mini goals through key buttons on your homepage to see how each of them perform, analysing the results month on month to draw conclusions about how your consumers behave on your site. In addition, using A/B testing is key to identifying which creative assets drive more conversions to your brand.
If you would like to learn more about the key digital developments to be aware of ahead of 2020, please get in touch with the team at Verb.
Clara Saladich is senior marketing manager at Verb, a full-service luxury digital agency, covering website design and development, PPC, SEO and social media