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The State of Search Marketing Today

Chelsea Iversen Jan. 7, 2020

Search marketing, including paid search and search engine optimization (SEO), is a channel that has seen almost constant change over the past 25 years. The state of search marketing today is an amalgamation of updates to technology and philosophy that have happened over the course of decades to bring us closer to the search experience people rely on.

Here are some of the most important qualities you need to know about search marketing today:

User experience

User experience is the lifeblood of search as we know it. Google changed the game with a business model that was obsessed with the user, not the advertiser. That’s why all Google updates are focused on improving the UX of search, and why webmasters and advertisers are required to work around it.


If there’s one word that’s the focus of search right now, it’s intent. Search engines are using all the technology available to try to figure out the intent behind search queries. Why? Because understanding what a person means when they type something into the search bar or say something into their smart speaker turns out better results. Technology like machine learning and natural language processing are now beginning to understand and respond to intent, and the results are astounding.

Natural language processing

Recently, especially with the rise of voice search and users’ comfort level with using natural language in search, search engines have had to adapt to a more conversational style. Natural language processing has become essential now that search engines are interested in learning the intent behind a query and not just the words themselves.


Google Search was built on the idea of backlinking. Backlinks were just the start, however. Subsequent releases from Google have made it clear that authentic, genuine content was going to win out over spammy, salesy sites. This is the reason the Internet is not just a lawless collection of sites trying to spam you. Google — with its Panda update in 2011, Possum in 2016, and other updates between and since then — prioritizes pages that included genuine people-focused content.

Want more? Join the ALEx community for free and take the course to learn so much more about the state of search marketing today:

  • The proven benefits of SEO and paid search — and how they can work together

  • Advanced search technology — the search tech you need to know about (and what’s just hype)

  • The global search market — search engines worth paying attention to in the U.S. and internationally

  • The evolution of search — how we got to where we are