How is 2017 ending? I swear it only just begun! Ah, beyond me freaking out about getting older, it has been a crazy year in marketing, however rather than looking back, I want to look forward today and make some predictions on what I think we may see over the next 12 months.
1) The Power Of Video Will Be Appreciated
Despite numerous reports highlighting the increase in conversion rate when a HTML5 video is added to a page, there still seems to be a lack of action taken to get these in place. This is despite the material already being available on the brands YouTube page.
I reckon this will be the year that brands finally step up and add high quality video content to their website.
2) Google Knowledge Graph Takes Over
Not everyone will have noticed it, but a few months ago a large chunk of those juicy featured snippets which were sending traffic through to sites were replaced by knowledge graph boxes. The frustration is the content was very much the same, except it now comes from Google rather than the originator of the content. It looks like Google will continue to increase this area, as they look to become the resource for anything and everything you could ask (maybe critical when you think of the future of voice search).
3) VR Reaches The Masses
For the last couple of years I have desperately wanted to buy a VR headset, however it just seemed pointless. You would have to spend close to a grand, then to find out you couldn’t run it off your laptop and would have to buy a high spec computer or PS4. Well this is all set to change! At a cost of only $199, the Oculus Go will be available from early 2018, an incredibly cheap price compared to the current headsets. However the real kicker is that it will be completely self contained, meaning no need to connect to another device. This move by Oculus, part of Mark Zuckerberg’s empire, is a move to become a household item in everyone’s home. It won’t be a bit profit maker for the brand, considering the low price, however if everyone has one then you have industry dominance, therefore Mark is thinking long term with this one.
4) Link Building Is Bigger Than Ever
OK, when I say this, I don’t mean it’s perceived any bigger than it used to be, I mean the way in which we build links is bigger than ever. Forget spamming out to blogs or building infographics, the real successful campaigns are done via giant projects. Take TheStagCompany for example, where I work. We have setup the Bubble Football World Cup. We are getting nations from all over the world to compete for this prestigious new title, which will be run every four years. We have already gained the attention of Unilad, BBC and Talk Sport, that’s a clear jump from that ole’ travel blog from Betsy.
5) Mobile Is Love, Mobile Is Life
Who remembers when we used to say ‘this will be the year of mobile’? Well, it came and it is here to stay. Around 70% of our traffic is via a mobile device, meaning brands are having to think mobile first. There have been many steps to get us here, such as Mobilegeddon, however the news of mobile first indexing was perhaps the most significant in recent times. It might be time to carefully monitor load time on mobile, research into AMP and generally make sure the user experience is top notch.
6) Voice Search Is Massive
I’m amazed when I chat to people who still seem to be in denial about voice search. Don’t get me wrong, I barely use it myself, but we have a tendency to look at ourselves and assume everyone is similar to us. The elderly and the young are however massively increasing their usage of voice search.
With Google Home and Amazon Echo (my latest Christmas addition) being added to our homes, we will soon have smart lighting, temperature control and plenty of other useful additions with the power of voice.
Perhaps the biggest factor in this jump in usage is thanks to the word error rate dropping so much over the past couple of years. At BrightonSEO, many speakers stated they believed 50% of search will be via voice in 2020.
It is critical websites respond to this, by focusing on many long tail keywords to address questions and queries from potential customers in a conversational manner. Lets just face it, if we are planning a holiday to Spain, we won’t say ‘Alexa, Spain Holidays’. Instead, we will be saying ‘Alexa, where should I go on holiday in Spain’.
7) Bing Will Be Taken More Seriously…Well, A Bit More
I’m not going to say this will be the year that Google has a real threat, however with Windows 10 having Bing integration, as well as Xbox and Cortana, its usage on voice search and Edge, it could start to claw a small percentage back from Google.
With this comes a closer inspection on everything that is Bing. For example, we have a vastly greater conversion rate on Bings ads than we do on Google Adwords. How many of you have Bing webmaster tools setup? In fact, how many of you are tracking your keywords on Bing? I’m not saying you need to rush over, but it should be a consideration.
8) Progressive Web Apps Become More Than An Acronym
At our Take It Offline event in the summer, we brought up PWA’s to the room, which was quickly met by a confused look all around. This is a room filled with some of the most clever people in the country, who tackle SEO and digital marketing on a daily basis, however this left them all stumped. There still seems to be a lack of knowledge around progressive web apps, however I think 2018 will be the year people start to appreciate its value, especially as they can now be listed in the Google Play Store. After all the talk last year on deep links for apps, I reckon this year it will be on PWA’s.
9) Keyword Research & Reports Will Be A Ballache
I 100% still believe in keyword research and producing ranking reports. I do a scorecard for our brand every month where we can see how our rankings have changed within each area, from hero terms, to destination pages and activity pages. With successful grouping, you can see whether you are on the right path and where you are falling short. I have a more minor ranking report each week I do just to quickly check everything is alright.
But beyond this, how we report is getting a bit misty. It is no longer just a simple 1-10 ranking update. We need to know how congested the SERP’s are for each term, such as with knowledge graph, local results, featured snippets, Google shopping results and anything else that could be lowering our actual position or affecting our CTR. Annoyingly, most ranking tools will highlight your term is 3rd on Google, but will ignore all these extra options in place, offering you a skewed view of your actual rankings.
10) Facebook Eats Into Google Adwords Budget
There can be no denying the ridiculous jumps in cost per click on Google Adwords over the past few years, making it a difficult area to manage for many businesses, especially ones selling low cost items. On the other hand, Facebook is increasingly improving its targeting options, allowing you to both achieve sales but also build your brand with these people and ‘like-minded users’. Increasingly brands are using Facebook for remarketing purposes. It is now the time that brands have to think of their budgets for the next 12 months and will have to decide whether to move some of their Google Adwords budget over to Facebook in order to run some experimental campaigns.