Search is a dynamic field. It adjusts in almost real time to the chang­ing needs and inter­ests of con­sumers. For search mar­keters, par­tic­u­larly those in SEM, under­stand­ing what con­sumers want and need is a full-time job. If you can accu­rately and con­sis­tently antic­i­pate the trends of con­sumer desires, then you are prob­a­bly a hero to your SEM team. Doing this is like antic­i­pat­ing the chicken before there’s an egg. So, while it is unre­al­is­tic to expect any­one to be able to antic­i­pate trends with any kind of con­sis­tency or accu­racy, there are ways to improve your chances of stay­ing just one step ahead of your consumers.

Look at Your Competitors

Trends from some­where. If you’re not on top of trends and pro­vid­ing the lat­est and great­est ser­vice or prod­uct to cus­tomers, then you’d bet­ter bet that some­one else is. That some­one else is your com­peti­tor (or com­peti­tors). Don’t be obliv­i­ous to the fact that some­times com­peti­tors will real­ize trends before you do, and don’t be sour about it either

Par­tic­i­pate in the com­pe­ti­tion, and try to one up your com­peti­tors by see­ing what’s trend­ing for them. Trans­form these trends and ideas into some­thing bet­ter than the orig­i­nal. Always take notice of the areas in which com­peti­tors are find­ing their most suc­cess. But how can you do this with­out illicit or hard-to-come-by information?

In search, soft­ware rules ana­lyt­ics, and ana­lyt­ics rules deci­sions. How else would you find infor­ma­tion you need than through soft­ware? There are prod­ucts out there that help you iden­tify your com­peti­tors’ top key­words, but these prod­ucts aren’t cheap. The search engines that you use to set up your SEM cam­paigns will also pro­vide you with some com­peti­tor infor­ma­tion, but it may not be enough. If you’re a mom and pop shop look­ing to find out how trendy the uncle and aunt place next door is, then you prob­a­bly don’t have the resources to invest in a whole suite of soft­ware. In this case, the best way is the old-fashioned, DIY way.

Search for your com­peti­tors. Assume the role of the con­sumer. See what types of terms com­peti­tors buy in SEM. Iden­tify any pat­terns that might be poten­tial trends and see how well your com­peti­tors place in their ads. Don’t limit your­self to search either. Look into other forms of adver­tis­ing to find out what the­o­ret­i­cal eggs your com­peti­tors are putting into what baskets.

Stock Up on Keywords

Every time you see some­thing and think, “Hey that’s inter­est­ing. That could be pop­u­lar!” mark it down. Build up a stock­pile of key­words and terms that might trend so you’re pre­pared if they ever do start trend­ing. You can add terms to your trend list before you pur­chase them for your SEM cam­paigns. This is par­tic­u­larly use­ful because you can see data about these terms and asso­ci­ated searches. You can use the infor­ma­tion you already have to pre­dict what types of terms are trend­ing, or you can fol­low your gut. There’s no harm in adding another key­word to your trend­ing list, as long as it’s rea­son­able. For exam­ple, don’t just add a bunch of words from the dic­tio­nary to your trend­ing list. You’ll just end up sat­u­rat­ing your pre­dic­tions and mud­dy­ing the waters of your real predictions.

Look Ahead

Every search mar­keters wants to be a sooth­sayer of trends. In SEM if you can look ahead and know what’s going to be pop­u­lar with con­sumers, then you’ll always succeed.

Look beyond search mar­ket­ing to find what’s pop­u­lar with con­sumers and what’s trend­ing up. Put your­self in con­sumers’ shoes and you will find that the future is much clearer than you orig­i­nally anticipated.