Digital Marketing Trends For 2018:
Expert Roundup And Audience Survey Results
Expert Roundup And Audience Survey Results
We interviewed top experts to identify the internet marketing trends for 2018. We also asked our readers to share their views. Check this post to learn how to form your strategy for the upcoming year.
1. What trends to expect in 2018? Choose 1-2 that you think are the most crucial.
2. What can we do about these trends? Share some tips on how to change the strategy to follow them.
I also sent the questionnaire to our subscribers and asked them to tick the main trends that will rock 2018. Keep reading to learn what results I got.
What SEO trends to expect in 2018 and how to follow them?
Every year it feels like standard for content raises considerably, and to get the coverage and links required to move the needle you need to be producing exceptionally good content.
Not only does it have to look great and function well, the idea often needs to be unique, imaginative and relatable with a strong story behind it. Story being the key word here, if there's no interesting hook, then why should someone cover it?
A content piece which I really liked recently was Homes of the Future by Made.com. It's a great idea that's very well presented and relevant to the client.
However, don't make content interactive just for the sake of it. A piece should only be interactive if it adds value to the piece, all too often we see content that's interactive just for the sake of it, and can hurt a campaign.
2. Featured Snippet Shakeup
This is something that's already starting to happen, but hopefully people will become less obsessed with featured snippets. The idea of ranking in 'position zero' is tempting to many, but in reality it's hard secure them long term. Question whether it's worth time and effort before investing resources in obtaining them, especially if Google can take them away without notice.
They're likely to still play a huge part, especially in voice search, but at this moment in time they're very volatile.
2. Structured Data will become available for a wider range of industries. There is an extension process for Schema.org, that allows outsiders to submit extensions for Schema. In 2017, we saw FIBO (Financial Industry Business Ontology) Schema and other Schema, including "Howto" schema added to Schema.org. I'm expecting that Schema will be an area where SEO continues to grow.
If you aren't trying Schema out on client's sites, it is something that you should probably be using, to have information included in knowledge panels and in rich snippets. Make it a part of client campaigns that will continue to grow in importance and usage, because it likely will. You may get the chance to help build schema extensions - learn as much as you can about how Schema grows and is updated. It is worth the effort.
It's also strongly related to the searcher's intent. Google algorithms are becoming more and more sophisticated and nowadays the context of your website is becoming increasingly important. It's no longer about keyword stuffing and loading your website with a huge amount of exact match keywords or numbers in an attempt to manipulate a site's ranking in Google search results. Nowadays it's more about providing the best possible answer to a user's search query and understanding the search intent of the specific search queries.
Another trend I see coming is voice search. It could be another big thing after the mobile. However, it's still in a very early stage and I doubt that it will be fully operating in 2018. But, I'm quite sure that by the end of 2020, voice search will be very common, and there will be many talks going on in the SEO world on how to optimize the content for a voice search, similar how it's now about mobile.
How to follow these trends? The key factor to success is to understand the searcher's intent and to provide the best possible answer. Also, you should try to be even one more step ahead - think about what else could be important for that user. Think about that topic, what is related to that original search query, what the user will be doing next, and try to provide the user even more valuable information than what was originally expected.
The form in which your website provides the content is also very important. It could be video content, text content, images, or even a podcast, depending on what the user is searching for, and what content is being expected.
Another thing to keep in mind is the competition. Each year it's becoming tougher to compete in the SEO field among other well known brands and high trust websites. The SEO is evolving and now it's becoming very dependent on your content marketing strategy. SEO can't stand alone without good content. In order to compete, you need to provide better content than your competitors. So at the end you need to understand two things: a. A search intent and b. Your competitors profile - why did they deserve those high rankings.
The three updates I'm referring to are:
- Mobile first Google index - Google will create and rank its search listings based on the mobile version of content, even for listings that are shown to desktop users.
- Rank Brain - Google uses a machine-learning artificial intelligence system called "RankBrain" to better understand search queries & experiences which can change rankings over time.
- Featured Snippets - A summary of an answer to a user's query, which is displayed on top of Google search results.
How to follow these trends? I don't like to give predictions without giving strategies to make them happen.
To help improve rankings for these major algorithm updates I have the following tips:
1. Make A Mobile Friendly Website. With over 60% of searches coming from mobile devices, which is still growing, Google is slowly shifting to a mobile first search index. Obviously if the site is not mobile friendly it is not going to rank well in a mobile first index.
2. CRO Page Titles & Content. With Rank Brain learning how people engage with content it is slowly becoming less important to "keyword stuff" your title tags and content. Instead if you follow some simple conversion rate optimization tips you can improve the amount of clicks and time on your site.
3. Increase Time On Page. With the mobile first index & Rank Brain becoming more important the amount of time a user spends on the site can have a big impact on rankings. Some tips to help improve time on site is to include videos on your page. An average five minutes on site looks really good and can be achieved with simply embedding the right type of video on the page.
4. Increase Comments. Gary Illyes from Google said at the State of Search conference that you are better off having comments and reactions to your content directly on your site rather than on third-party sites, like social networks. (Source: SERoundTable)
5. Improve Featured Snippets. Getting listed as the featured snippet is a great way to jump to #1 in the search results. There are a list of tips to optimize your content for these type of search queries. Just follow them and see which ones work.
Best of luck in 2018!
RankBrain Is Now Normal
Yep. That is right. For now on your content and level of interest from users will start to measure your rankings.
Never before has the ability to place great information in front of your user been so important.
No more large updates. Updates are constant and ever changing. You don't have to worry about Penguin any more? No. That is not what I am saying at all. Zoo animals run freely. They are becoming part of the day to day norms of Googles algo updates.
Used to be that there would be some huge update and everyone panic and share Serp pictures. Now that consistently happens all the time. There is now just the SERP's. Not updates.
How do you counteract this?
There are more than likely one of more loopholes that work. There is a blog network that ranks right now. I am speaking hypothetically of course.
Reality is that you focus on your niche. You create amazing content that focuses around a core set of users. You need to adapt a screw Google mentality.
I got this from Shoemoney. His epic speech in 2008 has become my 2018 outlook. Focus on your audience. Focus on your users. Focus on what they care about. Google will rank you because of it.
My exact formula for SEO 2018:
Mimic the best in the business at putting great content in front of your audience. Not bought content. Not volume. Great content. Learn to repel users that don't fit what you are doing. Don't compel buyers. Repel those that don't fit.
2. Aim to build high quality links that your competitors would struggle to replicate. A way to ensure this is by combining linkable asset creation with Digital PR & Outreach, earning coverage & links from trusted and relevant publications.
So many websites are built with function only in mind and skip over the most important aspect of any site build, the user experience. You could hire a professional UX/UI designer or agency to help. But you can also start by looking through your analytics data to uncover how visitors are behaving. How long have they stayed on each page? Do any pages have a particularly high bounce rate? Etc. Then think about how you could begin to improve the content, navigation or layout of any weak pages. Get this right and you will soon see an improvement in your organic traffic and conversions.
- Rank Brain: content and level of interest from users will start to measure your rankings.
- Content optimization for a voice search.
- Bigger and better content: you need to produce exceptionally good and interactive content to get the coverage and links.
- Search by Photography at Google and Google Lens.
- Structured Data will become available for a wider range of industries.
- Preparing for Google Mobile first index.
- Featured Snippets optimization.
- Focus on quality over quantity of backlinks.
Then comes mobile optimization, (AMP) with 69%.
And the third one is comprehensive and in-depth content (59%).
What PPC trends to expect in 2018 and how to follow them?
Secondly, to compete with Facebook, Google will further up their behavioural targeting game. We've already seen "Similar Audiences" aka lookalikes and demographic targeting, and "custom intent" being rolled out. Next year I can see Google enabling more behavioural based data for Search and Display to help close the gap on Facebook.
That said, as a driver of intent, Google search is still the daddy.
How to follow them?
Let's discuss my favourite new strategy for Google's looka… sorry, Similar audiences.
- Create a similar audience of your buyers and another for add to carts
- Create a DSA campaign for your best sellers
- Apply both similar audience as target and bid, apply a more aggressive bid to similar buyers
Next trend – costs continue to rise
It's not a new trend but when it comes to higher costs in the PPC space, you have an ally in testing. To keep things simple-ish, I'd test these 3 critical areas:
Take your top spending (and performing) keywords/products, split them out in to their own campaigns and start running experiments on Manual CPC vs automated bidding. If you aren't already, ensure you're using accelerated budget delivery. For lead gen test CPA bidding and for ecommerce try ROAS or Maximise Conversions.
I'd advise at least 50 conversions per month to have sufficient data for the auto-bidding systems to work. Anything less than 20 and you're probably wasting your time.
Analytics is your friend here, dive in to your keyword data looking at how each device performs. You will find disparities across your keywords and that's why digging down beyond the campaign and Ad Group level is always more rewarding.
Start setting up experiments based on your findings; for example, if mobile doesn't appear to convert for one keyword – run a more aggressive desktop bid or heavily reduced mobile bid. Check time of day for mobile device use too.
Are you paying for heaving mobile traffic at certain times of the day that simply doesn't convert? If so test and optimise against this by creating custom schedules and device bid adjustments.
Working with your high-spend keywords, run split tests on the core landing page elements. If you're selling products the easiest test is a video in place of the main product image.
A few other things to try in your product copy:
- Free delivery incentive when you spend X (X being ~20-30% above your current AOV)
- Extended returns guarantee (competitor offers 30 days? You should try 45 instead)
- Multi-buy discount (2 or more items bought, give a little off)
If you don't have testing software, Google Optimize is free and robust enough to start your page testing journey.
Split or A/B testing is a massive subject, so I've only given quick, tip of the iceberg recommendations. If you're looking for inspiration you can find a load of landing page examples here.
What can we do about these trends?
Traditionally many PPC specialists have considered it unthinkable to let Google manage any part of an account, but I think it's time for specialists to reconsider their views on things like smart bidding, ad testing, audiences/targeting and of course attribution. The algorithms are getting better and better, and PPC specialists should approach it with an open mind to test what part of their work the computer can now do better. At the same time, we need to start figuring out how our role as the specialist will change as the machines take over.
There will be more updates to the new AdWords experience, as well as Facebook's Ad Manager. Both can be equally frustrating. New AdWords experience might provide bonus capabilities but in reality it showed that it takes a while to get accustomed to it. I can assume Google will postpone deactivating the old interface.
With the launch of "Google Attribution" in 2017 at a beta level, it's expected to go out to the masses in 2018. This will change the way most account managers work, as we will have greater access to the bigger picture.
Most Adwords attribution is set to "Last Click", many advertisers will find they've been chopping and shifting budget in the wrong areas, as there's multiple user touch points when it comes to selling a product or service.
A greater understanding of attribution will help account managers get the most use of their budget and where it's best placed. This means looking back at the changes we have been making and thinking more strategically moving forward.
The most important thing in 2018 will to not shy away from the change and an re-evaluate your current marketing. If used correctly, additional attribution data can lead to greater marketing performance across the board, not just PPC.
To make it more appealing, Google is offering a range of features that are only available in the new interface. The main challenge is change, and it's currently unclear how soon Google plans to shift all users over to it permanently. It's hard to imagine them letting the old interface run past 2018.
One of the biggest newcomers to the interface, is Showcase Shopping Ads. Shopping has already become more and more dominant over the years, but now Google are expanding the amount you can find in one search by categorising items. These are relatively hard to come by at present and seem to mainly have been incorporated by only the larger brands. In 2018, expect this to have a bigger presence and change the way users shop on Google.
Among Showcase Shopping Ads, there's a host of features and changes taking place in the New Interface which will shake things up for advertisers.
Similar to attribution, the main task moving forward is to stay ahead of the game and adjust as quickly as possible. Don't shy away from the change!
Going into 2018 with the increase of voice products such as the Google Home, Amazon echo products and smartphone assistants, this will play a big factor in the increase of voice search. The best PPC in 2018 will compromise of a strong voice strategy working consisting of long-tail keywords and mobile bid adjustments/campaigns in AdWords; the marketers that want to go even further will take the time to build/learn alexa skills & home apps.
Google AdWords is a mature Ad platform in comparison to other platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn Ad platforms. The CPCs are higher in AdWords than in Facebook and LinkedIn – but still lower than in the traditional T.V Ads. In 2018 will see bigger companies spending more on these other platforms which will raise CPCs/CPMs over time, however the quality of the creatives will be the true variable to success. Ultimately it's all about finding your audience at the best price and not disrupting them on these platforms.
- Pressure on cost per click will only keep rising as competition increases.
- To compete with Facebook, Google will further up their behavioral targeting game.
- Google Attribution to go out to the masses.
- Continued growth of voice.
- Cross platform
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence
Then goes mobile-friendly ads (58%).
And the third trend our readers considered as the one to expect in 2018 is paid ads and organic results look similar in Google SERP (29%).
Content marketing trends
What content marketing trends to expect in 2018 and how to follow them?
Original research conducted and published from brands that answer questions that have been previously unanswered — or that provide industry benchmarks are trends — will increase in importance for marketers in 2018.
Original research is shared widely and attracts backlinks because it helps several audiences:
- B2B buyers consider original research from brands influential in the buying process.
- Journalists are looking for new, data-driven stories to tell.
- Influencers wants to share and write about trends and otherwise-uncovered ideas. And, even better, original research is a relatively untapped opportunity: Only 37% of B2B marketers currently use it.
Also, it's becoming much more difficult to promote services and products via SMM channels, since static images have become significantly less popular. Video is what people want, but that doubles the expenses required to invest in content marketing. For example, creating an image takes about 20 minutes, and creating a short image can take about 40 minutes. However, it's obvious that for Facebook, there's no sense in posting static images, since videos generally get 10x more reach.
How to follow these trends?
I would recommend that people stop wasting resources on producing content, and dedicate these resources to promoting it instead. A person can do one post per month and start the planning process by considering the best ways to promote it. This involves structuring content so it will reach a broader audience by:
Of course, video is not a new medium but it still seems to be underutilized. I see many businesses (clients and agencies alike) who aren't investing in video and taking advantage of the platforms available — particularly in terms of content marketing and leveraging video in combination with blogging.
How to follow this trend?
Video content can be paired with text resources to boost search rankings and visibility. For example, re-purposing a popular blog post as a video and embedding it on the popular page can help you achieve YouTube rankings quickly, as well as help boost organic rankings for the page the video lives on.
You can learn more about this process here.
- Original and data-driven content.
- Growth of video as a content marketing channel.
- Promotion matters more than content itself.
The second place is divided between vertical and mobile-friendly content and transparency and disclosure, not advertising (58%).
And influencer-driven content (41%) is in the third place.
Social Media Marketing trends
What social media marketing trends to expect in 2018 and how to follow them?
I also think social media has to be personal again. Using social media to broadcast your so so content is dying...
How to follow this trend? I think I've answered this one ;-) Don't use social to share stuff you would be interested in sharing if it was shared by your competitors, only share stuff you're really proud about.
Businesses that think they need to get into Snapchat need not worry. There's no need to expand platforms if you're already marketing on the big three - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Instagram Stories will be providing businesses a lot more opportunities. With 200 million users each MONTH, Instagram Stories beats out Snapchat by about 100 million, according to TechCrunch, so it's a hot trend to focus on for 2018. And, it's easy for small business owners to capitalize on this opportunity.
For small business owners to master this strategy, they really need to learn the ins and outs of how it works, including the different formats available. Most importantly, small business social media managers will need to really lock in on the type of content their followers want to see. At PromoRepublic, we host informational webinars on topics just like this, and we instruct marketers on how to jump on these trends and incorporate them into their social media strategy.
In a nutshell, marketers need to choose the format of their Instagram Story - live, normal, boomerang, rewind or hands-free. It's best for folks to learn all the formats so that they can choose the one that best applies to the story they want to create.
Getting familiar with the content editing features included with Instagram Stories will help make the story more engaging and attractive, which is the name of the game on Insta. Learning about filters, stickers and drawing can help personalize the message, and choosing how to distribute the story will help cultivate the right message for the right audience. It's worth it for small businesses to learn about Instagram Stories. It's going to continue to be a popular format.
We've just talked about a recent Messenger Update at our PromoRepublic Academy. A whopping 2.5 billion people across the world use messaging platforms, but small business and even larger brands, according to Entrepreneur, are still focusing on pure platforms, rather than expanding into the messaging space. As AI leaps into a marketer's grasp in the form of messenger bots, voice assistants and other high tech ways of communicating with customers, small businesses need to focus on messaging platforms, particularly Facebook messenger.
The easiest way for small businesses to leverage Facebook Messenger is via a Customer Chat plugin that will allow them to integrate Messenger with their own websites. This is super, since people can access Facebook Messenger from a mobile device, so small businesses can access their customers at any time, and the customers can access them, all through the same platform. The plugin also lets small businesses keep the chat history, which will help them keep track of leads, customer service issues and demographic information. One thing for businesses to keep in mind, however, is that setting up an integration or installing a chat bot isn't enough to win via Messenger. You have to be there to answer questions and interact. Once you've proven that you're responsive, and that you're available, then you can look at advertising via Messenger and using all that rich data to segment your audience.
Another trend to mention is influence marketing that will become even more popular in the upcoming year. More and more people will get an "influencer" status as it's a very attractive way to get money without investing a lot. This trend will lead to the emergence of new influencer marketing tools; targeting and tracking will get better. Communication process will become easier as well as pricing.
At the same time, social networks will try to get back the part of income that is now taken by influencers. Social media networks will make the influencers to split the commission, ask to mark sponsored posts, as it was already tested by Instagram this summer and by Facebook even earlier with well-known celebrities.
What to do with these trends?
There should be no problems with the first trend. Show your marketers how to use graphic-design tools so that they can create all required visual content themselves, while designers will have more time for the complex tasks.
Following the second trend is not as simple as the first one. Social networks trying to change their relations with influencers may mess your things up. Sponsored mark on your posts may negatively affect rankings. That's why it's better to think of how you'll adjust your strategy in advance.
- Building awesome content based on awesome and personal stories.
- Instagram Stories.
- Messenger Marketing.
- Democratization of social media marketing.
- Influence marketing getting more popular.
Messenger apps as a part of SMM strategy (62%) takes the second place.
While Chat bots (57%) take the third one.
What trends do you expect in the upcoming year? Share your thoughts ;)
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