In the ever-changing world of online marketing, it can be easy to give up on keeping up. The reality is that electronics and the internet will continue to influence our businesses, and they show no signs of slowing down. So, what should you be looking out for? Let’s take a look at a few key trends that we expect to be prominent in 2018.
We can expect voice search and digital assistants (Google Home, Alexa) to expand their presence in 2018. As more and more people use in-home electronics and phones to find answers about everyday topics, accuracy continues to improve to make it feel like a fluid and intuitive conversation.
Although keywords are still very much important, we will see an increase in searches using full questions such as, “Who’s the best dentist in the area?” To best engage your audience, the level of content on your website should offer a conversational tone, almost like a Q&A query.
Mobile First Approach
Since 2015, Google has concluded that in order to rank well having a mobile/responsive web design is key. Mobile traffic on smartphones, tablets and similar devices has already outstripped desktop traffic and is only continuing to climb. This means it’s a fair assumption that users will reach your site on a mobile device and by searching on the go.
AI and Machine Learning
If 2017 told us anything, it’s that the days of discrete, nameable Google algorithm updates (i.e. Penguin) are behind us. Google’s very own Gary Illyes confirmed as much in a flippant keynote at Brighton SEO in which he stated that Google makes two to three updates to its ranking algorithm per day, 95-98% of which are “not actionable for webmasters.”
The reason behind this is that Google is increasing the use of AI and machine learning in its ranking algorithms. Google’s algorithms are no longer a set of clearly-defined rules set by humans, but rather a constantly learning and fluctuating entity.
Not surprisingly, this has thrown webmasters and SEOs into a spin about exactly how they can optimize for artificial intelligence. Many companies have addressed this in a number of recent articles on Search Engine Watch, and the overriding message is clear: you won’t need to worry about optimizing for RankBrain or AI. As long as you stick to fundamental SEO best practices, you’ll be fine.
Lights, Camera, Action
These days, with platforms like Facebook and Instagram solidifying their presence in the business marketing world, social media users seek a more genuine connection with the brands they follow. Tools such as Facebook and Instagram Live make it easy to connect with followers; it’s almost like having a one-on-one conversation. Videos allow followers to get a better idea of who you are and gives them a closer, more interactive look into your brand. Options for creativity are endless here. For example, you could use the live video feature to announce the winner of a contest, to show off your office’s new dental equipment or even while you sing happy birthday to a staff member!
You’ve probably seen movies set in the future when robots are part of everyday life, but is that really where we’re heading? Well, kind of. Acting more like built-in assistants than robots, chatbots hang out on Facebook and Twitter to provide followers with quick, yet personal interactions and responses. As technology continues to develop, more brands are introducing chatbots to lighten their social media workload or answer general questions on their websites. And unsurprisingly, followers are warming up to the idea of immediate responses at any time.
Social Listening Tools
As social media continues to grow, it becomes harder and harder to stay afloat in a sea of like-minded content. The key is to create content your followers truly want to see. Social listening tools like Facebook Analytics can help you track keywords and phrases your followers use, which can come into play when you’re brainstorming ideas for posts or marketing campaigns. When you know exactly what your audience is talking about, designing content for what interests them is easy.
Ephemeral content is just a fancy term for temporary posts like the ones you see on Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook stories. You might be thinking that sharing a story for 24 hours only to have it disappear sounds pointless, but this kind of content can produce an amazing engagement rate.
The draw lies in the ability for quick storytelling throughout your workday and the consistency of your stories. If you can master both, you’ll help keep your posts at the top of your followers’ feed. Your posts can be light and fun so long as there is a strategy in mind to keep your followers interested.
To sum up, recent years have made clear that good SEO and social media practices are no longer an option, but a necessity. As long as you keep up with trends and how things are changing, you’ll continue to effectively engage with your followers and reach new ones.
While all of this is good information to know, don’t forget about the basics you applied when first building your brand. Providing unique and quality content for your audience is still important as ever.
Don’t hesitate to let our Sesame Search team know what we can do to help you improve your SEO and social media presence for 2018!
—Caity McCarthy & John Lee, SEO & Social Media Specialists, Sesame Communications