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.