Tag Archive | "Predictions"

The 2018 Local SEO Forecast: 9 Predictions According to Mozzers

Posted by MiriamEllis

It’s February, and we’ve all dipped our toes into the shallow end of the 2018 pool. Today, let’s dive into the deeper waters of the year ahead, with local search marketing predictions from Moz’s Local SEO Subject Matter Expert, our Marketing Scientist, and our SEO & Content Architect. Miriam Ellis, Dr. Peter J. Myers, and Britney Muller weigh in on what your brand should prepare for in the coming months in local.


WOMM, core SEO knowledge, and advice for brands both large and small

Miriam Ellis, Moz Associate & Local SEO SME

LSAs will highlight the value of Google-independence

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) and loyalty initiatives will become increasingly critical to service area business whose results are disrupted by Google’s Local Service Ads. SABs aren’t going to love having to “rent back” their customers from Google, so Google-independent lead channels will have enhanced value. That being said, the first small case study I’ve seen indicates that LSAs may be a winner over traditional Adwords in terms of cost and conversions.

Content will be the omni-channel answer

Content will grow in value, as it is the answer to everything coming our way: voice search, Google Posts, Google Questions & Answers, owner responses, and every stage of the sales funnel. Because of this, agencies which have formerly thought of themselves as strictly local SEO consultants will need to master the fundamentals of organic keyword research and link building, as well as structured data, to offer expert-level advice in the omni-channel environment. Increasingly, clients will need to become “the answer” to queries… and that answer will predominantly reside in content dev.

Retail may downsize but must remain physical

Retail is being turned on its head, with Amazon becoming the “everything store” and the triumphant return of old-school home delivery. Large brands failing to see profits in this new environment will increasingly downsize to the showroom scenario, significantly cutting costs, while also possibly growing sales as personally assisted consumers are dissuaded from store-and-cart abandonment, and upsold on tie-ins. Whether this will be an ultimate solution for shaky brands, I can’t say, but it matters to the local SEO industry because showrooms are, at least, physical locations and therefore eligible for all of the goodies of our traditional campaigns.

SMBs will hold the quality high card

For smaller local brands, emphasis on quality will be the most critical factor. Go for the customers who care about specific attributes (e.g. being truly local, made in the USA, handcrafted, luxury, green, superior value, etc.). Evaluating and perfecting every point of contact with the customer (from how phone calls are assisted, to how online local business data is managed, to who asks for and responds to reviews) matters tremendously. This past year, I’ve watched a taxi driver launch a delivery business on the side, grow to the point where he quit driving a cab, hire additional drivers, and rack up a profusion of 5-star, unbelievably positive reviews, all because his style of customer service is memorably awesome. Small local brands will have the nimbleness and hometown know-how to succeed when quality is what is being sold.


In-pack ads, in-SERP features, and direct-to-website traffic

Dr. Peter J. Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz

In-pack ads to increase

Google will get more aggressive about direct local advertising, and in-pack ads will expand. In 2018, I expect local pack ads will not only appear on more queries but will make the leap to desktop SERPs and possibly Google Home.

In-SERP features to grow

Targeted, local SERP features will also expand. Local Service Ads rolled out to more services and cities in 2017, and Google isn’t going to stop there. They’ve shown a clear willingness to create specialized content for both organic and local. For example, 2017 saw Google launch a custom travel portal and jobs portal on the “organic” side, and this trend is accelerating.

Direct-to-website traffic to decline

The push to keep local search traffic in Google properties (i.e. Maps) will continue. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen local packs go from results that link directly to websites, to having a separate “Website” link to local sites being buried 1–2 layers deep. In some cases, local sites are being almost completely supplanted by local Knowledge Panels, some of which (hotels being a good example) have incredibly rich feature sets. Google wants to deliver local data directly on Google, and direct traffic to local sites from search will continue to decline.


Real-world data and the importance of Google

Britney Muller, SEO & Content Architect at Moz

Relevance drawn from the real world

Real-world data! Google will leverage device and credit card data to get more accurate information on things like foot traffic, current gas prices, repeat customers, length of visits, gender-neutral bathrooms, type of customers, etc. As the most accurate source of business information to date, why wouldn’t they?

Google as one-stop shop

SERPs and Maps (assisted by local business listings) will continue to grow as a one-stop-shop for local business information. Small business websites will still be important, but are more likely to serve as a data source as opposed to the only place to get their business information, in addition to more in-depth data like the above.


Google as friend or foe? Looking at these expert predictions, that’s a question local businesses of all sizes will need to continue to ask in 2018. Perhaps the best answer is “neither.” Google represents opportunity for brands that know how to play the game well. Companies that put the consumer first are likely to stand strong, no matter how the nuances of digital marketing shift, and education will remain the key to mastery in the year ahead.

What do you think? Any hunches about the year ahead? Let us know in the comments.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Find More Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

9 Predictions for SEO in 2018

Posted by randfish

For the last decade, I’ve made predictions about how the year in SEO and web marketing would go. So far, my track record is pretty decent — the correct guesses outweigh the wrong ones. But today’s the day of reckoning, to grade my performance from 2017 and, if the tally is high enough, share my list for the year ahead.

In keeping with tradition, my predictions will be graded on the following scale:

  • Nailed It (+2) – When a prediction is right on the money and the primary criteria are fulfilled
  • Partially Accurate (+1) – Predictions that are in the ballpark, but are somewhat different than reality
  • Not Completely Wrong (-1) – Those that got near the truth, but are more “incorrect” than “correct”
  • Way Off (-2) – Guesses which didn’t come close

Breakeven or better means I make new predictions for the year ahead, and under that total means my predicting days are over. Let’s see how this shakes out… I’m not nervous… You’re nervous! This sweat on my brow… It’s because… because it was raining outside. It’s Seattle! Yeesh.

Grading Rand’s 2017 Predictions

#1: Voice search will be more than 25% of all US Google searches within 12 months. Despite this, desktop volume will stay nearly flat and mobile (non-voice) will continue to grow.

+1 – We have data for desktop and mobile search volume via Jumpshot, showing that the former did indeed stay relatively flat and the other kept growing.

But, unfortunately, we don’t know the percent of searches that are done with voice rather than keyboards or screens. My guess is 25% of all searches is too high, but until Google decides to share an updated number, all we have is the old 2016 stat that 20% of mobile searches happened via voice input.

#2: Google will remain the top referrer of website traffic by 5X+. Neither Facebook, nor any other source, will make a dent.

+2Nailed it! Although, to be fair, there’s no serious challenger. The social networks and e-commerce leaders of the web want people to stay on their site, not leave and go elsewhere. No surprise Google’s the only big traffic referrer left.

#3: The Marketing Technology space will not have much consolidation (fewer exits and acquisitions, by percentage, than 2015 or 2016), but there will be at least one major exit or IPO among the major SEO software providers.

+2 – As best I can tell from Index.co’s thorough database (which, BTW, deserves more attention than Crunchbase, whose data I’ve found to be of far lower quality), Martech as a whole had nearly half the number of acquisitions in 2017 (22) versus 2016 (39). 2017 did, however, see the Yext IPO, so I’m taking full credit on this one.

#4: Google will offer paid search ads in featured snippets, knowledge graph, and/or carousels.

0 – Turns out, Google had actually done a little of this prior to 2017, which I think invalidates the prediction. Thus I’m giving myself no credit either way, though Google did expand their testing and ad types in this direction last year.

#5: Amazon search will have 4% or more of Google’s web search volume by end of year.

-2 – Way off, Rand. From the Jumpshot data, it looks like Amazon’s not even at 1% of Google’s search volume yet. I was either way too early on this one, or Amazon searches may never compete, volume-wise, with how Google’s users employ their search system.

#6: Twitter will remain independent, and remain the most valuable and popular network for publishers and influencers.

+2 – I’m actually shocked that I made this prediction given the upheaval Twitter has faced in the last few years. Still, it’s good to see a real competitor (despite their much smaller size) to Facebook stay independent.

#7: The top 10 mobile apps will remain nearly static for the year ahead, with, at most, one new entrant and 4 or fewer position changes.

+1 – I was slighly aggressive on wording this prediction, though the reality is pretty accurate. The dominance of a few companies in the mobile app world remains unchallenged. Here’s 2016′s top apps, and here’s 2017′s. The only real change was Apple Music and Amazon falling a couple spots and Pandora and Snapchat sneaking into the latter half of the list.

#8: 2017 will be the year Google admits publicly they use engagement data as an input to their ranking systems, not just for training/learning

-2 – I should have realized Google will continue to use engagement data for rankings, but they’re not gonna talk about it. They have nothing to gain from being open, and a reasonable degree of risk if they invite spammers and manipulators to mimic searchers and click for rankings (a practice that, sadly, has popped up in the gray hat SEO world, and does sometimes, unfortunately, work).

Final Score: +4 — not too shabby, so let’s continue this tradition and see what 2018 holds. I’m going to be a little more cavalier with this year’s predictions, just to keep things exciting :-)


Rand’s 9 Predictions for 2018

#1: The total number of organic clicks Google refers will drop by ~5% by the end of the year

In 2017, we saw the start of a concerning trend — fewer clicks being generated by Google search on desktop and mobile. I don’t think that was a blip. In my estimation, Google’s actions around featured snippets, knowledge panels, and better instant answers in the SERPs overall, combined with more aggressive ads and slowing search growth (at least in the United States), will lead to there being slightly less SEO opportunity in 2018 than what we had in 2017.

I don’t think this trend will accelerate much long term (i.e. it’s certainly not the end for SEO, just a time of greater competition for slightly fewer click opportunities).

#2: Twitter and LinkedIn will both take active steps to reduce the amount of traffic they refer out to other sites

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all had success algorithmically or structurally limiting clicks off their platforms and growing as a result. I think in 2018, Twitter and LinkedIn are gonna take their own steps to limit content with links from doing as well, to limit the visibility of external links in their platform, and to better reward content that keeps people on their sites.

#3: One or more major SEO software providers will shutter as a result of increased pressure from Google and heavy competition

Google Search Console is, slowly but surely, getting better. Google’s getting a lot more aggressive about making rank tracking more difficult (some rank tracking folks I’m friendly with told me that Q4 2017 was particularly gut-punching), and the SEO software field is way, way more densely packed with competitors than ever before. I estimate at least ten SEO software firms are over $ 10 million US in annual revenue (Deepcrawl, SEMRush, Majestic, Ahrefs, Conductor, Brightedge, SISTRIX, GinzaMetrics, SEOClarity, and Moz), and I’m probably underestimating at least 4 or 5 others (in local SEO, Yext is obviously huge, and 3–4 of their competitors are also above $ 10mm).

I predict this combination of factors will mean that 2018 sees one or more casualties (possibly through a less-than-rewarding acquisition rather than straight-out bankruptcy) in the SEO software space.

#4: Alexa will start to take market share away from Google, especially via devices with screens like the Echo Show

Voice search devices are useful, but somewhat limited by virtue of missing a screen. The Echo Show was the first stab at solving this, and I think in 2018 we’re going to see more and better devices as well as vastly better functionality. Even just the “Alexa, show me a photo of Rodney Dangerfield from 1965.” (see, Rand, I told you he used to be handsome!) will take away a lot of the more simplistic searches that today happen on Google and Google Images (the latter of which is a silent giant in the US search world).

#5: One of the non-Google tech giants will start on a more serious competitor to YouTube

Amazon’s feud with Google and the resulting loss of YouTube on certain devices isn’t going unnoticed in major tech company discussions. I think in 2018, that turns into a full-blown decision to invest in a competitor to the hosted video platform. There’s too much money, time, attention, and opportunity for some of the big players not to at least dip a toe in the water.

Side note: If I were an investor, I’d be pouring meetings and dollars into startups that might become this. I think acquisitions are a key way for a Facebook, an Amazon, or a Microsoft to reduce their risk here.

#6: Facebook Audience Network (that lets publishers run FB ads on their own sites) will get the investment it needs and become a serious website adtech player

Facebook ads on the web should be as big or bigger than anything Google does in this realm, mostly because the web functions more like Facebook than it does like search results pages, and FB’s got the data to make those ads high quality and relevant. Unfortunately, they’ve underinvested in Audience Network the last couple years, but I think with Facebook usage in developed countries leveling out and the company seeking ways to grow their ad reach and effectiveness, it’s time.

#7: Mobile apps will fade as the default for how brands, organizations, and startups of all sizes invest in the mobile web; PWAs and mobile-first websites will largely take their place

I’m calling it. Mobile apps, for 95% of companies and organizations who want to do well on the web, are the wrong decision. Not only that, most everyone now realizes and agrees on it. PWAs (and straightforward mobile websites) are there to pick up the slack. That’s not to say the app stores won’t continue to generate downloads or make money — they will. But those installs and dollars will flow to a very few number of apps and app developers at the very top of the charts, while the long tail of apps (which never really took off), fades into obscurity.

Side note: games are probably an exception (though even there, Nintendo Switch proved in 2017 that mobile isn’t the only or best platform for games).

#8: WordPress will continue its dominance over all other CMS’, growing its use from ~25% to 35%+ of the top few million sites on the web

While it depends what you consider “the web” to be, there’s no doubt WordPress has dominated every other CMS in the market among the most popular few million sites on it. I think 2018 will be a year when WordPress extends their lead, mostly because they’re getting more aggressive about investments in growth and marketing, and secondarily because no one is stepping up to be a suitable (free) alternative.

35%+ might sound like a bold step, but I’m seeing more and more folks moving off of other platforms for a host of reasons, and migrating to WordPress for its flexibility, its cost structure, its extensibility, and its strong ecosystem of plugins, hosting providers, security options, and developers.

#9: The United States will start to feel the pain of net neutrality’s end with worse Internet connectivity, more limitations, and a less free-and-open web

Tragically, we lost the battle to maintain Title II protections on net neutrality here in the US, and the news is a steady drumbeat of awfulness around this topic. Just recently, Trump’s FCC announced that they’d be treating far slower connections as “broadband,” thus lessening requirements for what’s considered “penetration” and “access,” all the way down to mobile connection speeds.

It’s hard to notice what this means right now, but by the end of 2018, I predict we’ll be feeling the pain through even slower average speeds, restrictions on web usage (like what we saw before Title II protections with Verizon and T-Mobile blocking services and favoring sites). In fact, my guess is that some enterprising ISP is gonna try to block cryptocurrency mining, trading, or usage as an early step.

Over time, I suspect this will lead to a tiered Internet access world here in the US, where the top 10% of American earners (and those in a few cities and states that implement their own net neutrality laws) have vastly better and free-er access (probably with more competitive pricing, too).


Now it’s time for your feedback! I want to know:

  1. Which of these predictions do you find most likely?
  2. Which do you find most outlandish?
  3. What obvious predictions do you think I’ve shamefully missed? ;-)

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

The 2017 Local SEO Forecast: 10 Predictions According to Mozzers

Posted by MiriamEllis

Maybe it takes a bit of daring to forecast local search developments in quarters 2, 3, and 4 from the fresh heights of Q1, but the Moz team thrives on challenges. In this post, Rand Fishkin, Dr. Pete Meyers, George Freitag, Britney Muller, and I peer into the future in hopes of helping your local business or local search marketing agency be mentally and tactically prepared for an exciting ride in the year ahead.


1. There will be a major shakeup in local SEO ranking factors.

Rand Fishkin, Founder & Wizard of Moz

My prediction is that the local SEO ranking factors will have a major shakeup, possibly devaluing some of the long-held elements around listing consistency from hard-to-control third parties. I think Google might make this move because, while they perceive the quality and trustworthiness of those third-party local data aggregators to be decent, they don’t want to force small business owners into maintaining contentious relationships or requiring them to learn about these services that control so much of their ranking fate. I’ll be the first to say this is a bold prediction, and I don’t give it super-high odds, but I think even if it doesn’t happen in 2017, it’s likely in the next few years.


2. Feature diversification will continue to mature.

Dr. Peter J. Myers, Marketing Scientist at Moz

I predict that local SEO will finally see the kind of full-on feature diversification (organic and paid) that has been going on with organic for a few years now. We’ve already seen many changes to local packs and the introduction of local knowledge panels, including sponsored hotel panels. Now Google is testing paid home services, ads in local packs, destination carousels, trip planning guides and, most recently, “Discover More Places” map results. By the end of 2017, “local SEO” will represent a wide variety of organic and paid opportunities, each with their own unique costs and benefits. This will present both new opportunities and new complications.


3. Voice search will influence features in Google and Amazon results.

George Freitag, Local Search Evangelist at Moz

I also think we’ll see a new wave of features appear in the local pack over the next year. I believe that voice search will play a large part in this as it will determine the most important features that Google (and Amazon) will incorporate into their results. As both companies start to gather more and more data about the types of complex searches — like “How long will it take me to get there?” or something more ambitious like “Do they have any more of those in my size” — Google and Amazon will start to facilitate businesses in answering those questions by allowing more opportunities to directly submit information. This satisfies both Google’s desire to have even more data submitted directly to them and the searcher’s desire to have access to more information about the businesses, which means it’s something that is definitely worth their time.


4. Google will begin to provide incredibly specific details about local businesses.

Britney Muller, SEO & Content Architect at Moz

I predict that we will see Google acquiring more intimate details about local businesses. They will obtain details from your customers (via different incentives) for unbiased feedback about your business. This will help Google provide searchers with a better user experience. We’ve already started seeing this with “Popular Times” and the “Live” features, showing you if current traffic is under or over the typical amount for the specific location. Your location’s level of noise, coziness, bedside manner (for doctors and clinics), and even how clean the bathroom is will all become accessible to searchers in the near future.


5–10. Six predictions for the price of one!

Miriam Ellis, Moz Associate & Local SEO

I have a half-dozen predictions for the coming year:

Diminishing free packs

Google paid packs will have replaced many free packs by 2017′s end, prompting local business owners to pay to play, particularly in the service industries that will find themselves having to give Google a piece of the pie in exchange for leads.

Voice search will rise

Local marketers will need to stress voice search optimization to business owners. Basically, much of this will boil down to including more natural language in the site’s contents and tags. This is a positive, in that our industry has stressed natural language over robotic-sounding over-optimization for many years. Voice search is the latest incentive to really perfect the voice of your content so that it matches the voice your customers are using when they search. Near-me searches and micro-moment events tie in nicely to the rise of voice search.

Expansion of attributes

Expect much discussion of attributes this year as Google rolls out further attribute refinements in the Google My Business dashboard, and as more Google-based reviewers find themselves prompted to assign attributes to their sentiments about local businesses.

Ethical businesses will thrive

Ongoing study of the millennial market will cement the understanding that serving this consumer base means devoting resources to aspirational and ethical business practices. The Internet has created a segment of the population that can see the good and bad of brands at the click of a link, and who base purchasing decisions on that data. Smart brands will implement sustainable practices that guard the environment and the well-being of workers if they want millennial market share.

Google will remain dominant

What won’t happen this year is a major transfer of power from the current structure. Google will remain dominant, but Facebook will continue to give them the best run for their money. Apple Maps will become more familiar to the industry. Yelp will keep building beyond the 115 million reviews they’ve achieved and more retail business owners will realize Yelp is even bigger for their model than it is for restaurants. You’ve pretty much got to be on Yelp in 2017 if you are in the retail, restaurant, or home service industries.

Amazon’s local impact will increase

Amazon’s ingress into local commerce will almost certainly result in many local business models becoming aware of the giant coming to town, especially in metropolitan communities. I’m withholding judgement on how successful some of their programs (like Amazon Go) will be, but local business owners need to familiarize themselves with these developments and see what’s applicable to them. David Mihm recently mentioned that he wouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon buying a few bankrupt malls this year — that wouldn’t surprise me, either.


Taken in sum, it’s a safe bet that local SEO is going to continue to be a significant force in the world of search in the coming year. Local business owners and the agencies which serve them will be wise to stay apprised of developments, diversifying tactics as need arises.

Now it’s your turn! Do you agree/disagree with our predictions? And how about your forecast? When you look to the future in local, what do you foresee? Please help us round out this post with predictions from our incredibly smart community.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

8 Predictions for SEO in 2017

Posted by randfish

It’s that time again, friends… That time where I grade my 2016 predictions to see whether I’ve got the clout and foresight to get another shot in 2017. This year is gonna be really close, as I was more aggressive last year than in prior ones, so let’s see where we end up, and what I’ve got to say for te next 12 months.

As always, my predictions will be graded on the following scale:

  • Nailed It (+2) – When a prediction is right on the money and the primary criteria are fulfilled
  • Partially Accurate (+1) – Predictions that are in the area, but are somewhat different than reality
  • Not Completely Wrong (-1) – Those that landed near the truth, but couldn’t be called “correct” in any real sense
  • Way Off (-2) – Guesses which didn’t come close

If I’m at breakeven or above, you can have more trust for what I’ll posit for the year ahead. If not… Doom! Well, OK, maybe not doom. But at least shame and embarrassment and what I hope are lots of hilarious tweets at my expense.

Grading Rand’s 2016 Predictions

#1: Data will reveal Google organic results to have <70% CTR

+2 – I won big with this one, though it was one of my more conservative projects. According to our clickstream data gathered in the summer, approximately 40% of Google searches do not garner any clicks at all. Granted, some of those are probably Google autocompleting a query before the searcher has finished typing, but given the threshold of 70%, I’ve got plenty of room to spare.

#2: Mobile will barely cut in to desktop’s usage and its growth rate in developed countries will slow

+1 – I’m giving myself a conservative point here because while Google’s mobile growth has appeared to have slightly more of a plateauing impact (data via SimilarWeb Pro, which shows Google on desktop at ~51% in 2015, down to ~49% in 2016, with mobile the reverse) on desktop search volume in the US, I have been unable to find data on the growth of mobile/desktop in developing countries. If someone has a source to help me better refine this prediction, please leave it in the comments.

BTW — I’ll grant that SimilarWeb’s data on Google usage probably isn’t perfect, but they have enough of a sample set that the shift in mix from desktop to mobile is likely statistically significant and thus, the trend’s probably accurate.

#3: Twitter will figure out how to grow again

-1 – While Twitter did indeed grow monthly active users in 2016 (from 305mm to 317mm) compared to 2015 (when they only grew from 302–305mm), that was a very low bar. Growth is growth, but I don’t think Twitter has truly “figured out” how to grow yet. Maybe they’ll take a page from Hunter Walk or Anil Dash.

#4: Social content engines will become a force

-1 – This is a tough one… SimilarWeb shows Pocket down in the overall app rankings but up as a referring source, and up on the mobile & desktop web with more engaged users on the platform. Meanwhile, Nuzzel has grown ~30% on the web (again, according to SimilarWeb). Instapaper and Feedly seem to be doing well, but not exceptionally so. I think these apps are a force in the influencer world, but their success breaking into the mainstream seems, as yet, limited.

#5: Yext will IPO, prompting even more interest in the world of local listings

-2 – I’m shocked I missed this one. I think Yext is probably still a likely IPO candidate in the next 12 months, but credit to them for staying private longer and building up for what I’m guessing will be a strong public offering.

#6: The death of normal distributions will hit both publishing and search results hard

+2 – Tragically, we did indeed see more consolidation, the loss of more news sources and networks, and the continued domination of Google’s search results by the few over the many. I showed off our clickstream data on this in my MozCon intro:

#7: The rise of adblocking is going to trigger attempts at legislation and incite more sites to restrict adblocking users

-1 – One out of two isn’t bad, but since my primary prediction was around legislation, I’ll stay conservative and deduct a point. We did certainly see more sites, particularly ad-driven sites, shifting to subscriptions and getting much more aggressive in their treatment of adblocking users. Mashable wrote about how it appears, from many reports, that adblocking itself seems to have leveled off in 2016, which few would have predicted. Maybe the savvy users who wanted to avoid ads have all done their bit and most of the rest of the web’s users don’t mind ads all that much? Or maybe just not enough to do anything about it.

#8: DuckDuckGo will be the fastest-growing search engine of 2016

+2 – Barring perfect data for things like Amazon’s Alexa/Echo (which is arguably a personal assistant, not a search engine) or for Google itself (which probably grew searches in the 10–15% range), it looks like this was spot on. Pretty impressive to see DuckDuckGo go from 8,606,321 searches per day on January 2nd, 2016 to 11,183,864 per day on January 2nd, 2017 — 30% year-over-year growth.

#9: Content marketing software for the non-enterprise will finally emerge

+1 – There’s no clear, breakout market leader in content marketing software for SMBs (Canva might be on the brink). But, there are a lot of players and a few in strong positions. I’m not seeing any with tens of millions in pure SMB revenue, hence only one point, but this is a market space that even today is hotter than the SEO software space has ever been. There are at least 50 content marketing software companies with VC backing who have SMB offerings. In SEO, I don’t think more than 5 companies have ever raised VC (versus private investment). And those 50 companies (plus the many private and unfunded ones) probably combine to serve a lot of customers, possibly more than the few SMB-focused SEO software companies ever have.

#10: The “big” trends for 2016: Wearables, VR, smart home, and Internet of Things will have almost no impact on the world of web marketing (yet)

-1 – I’m going to say that voice search applications that circumvent the web (and, thus, web marketing) are at least on the verge of having an impact on at least search, and possibly other channels soon too (“Alexa, read my Facebook feed to me so I don’t have to see the ads.”)

FINAL 2016 SCORE: +2

Whew! Just made it… Let’s see what’s on deck for the 12 months to come.


Rand’s 8 Predictions for 2017

#1: Voice search will be more than 25% of all US Google searches within 12 months. Despite this, desktop volume will stay nearly flat and mobile (non-voice) will continue to grow.

I’m going out on a limb with this by predicting what most aren’t — that voice search won’t actually cannibalize desktop or typed mobile searches, but will instead just add on top of it. Today, between 20–25% of mobile queries are voice, but oddly, Google said in May 2016 the number was 20% whereas in September 2010, they’d said 25%. Either voice has been relatively flat, or the old number was incorrect.

KPCB’s 2016 Trends report suggests the growth in voice search is higher, using implied Google Trends data (which, as those of us in SEO know, can be a dangerous, messy assumption). Clickstream data sampling and sources that track referrals (like SimilarWeb Pro) are likely better ways to measure the impact of cannibalization, and hopefully Google themselves (or third-party data sources with direct access) will report on the relative growth of voice to validate this.

In my opinion, voice search is the first true high-risk technology shift ever faced by the SEO world. If we see it cannibalize a substantive portion of search activity, we may find a pot that’s been growing for 20 years is suddenly (possibly rapidly) shrinking. I’m still bullish on search growing for the next 2–3 years, but I’m watching the data carefully, as should we all.

#2: Google will remain the top referrer of website traffic by 5X+. Neither Facebook, nor any other source, will make a dent.

Here’s SimilarWeb‘s breakdown for who sends traffic on the web:

I’d generally ignore “direct” as those include HTTPS->HTTP referrals that pass no referral string, every opening of every browser and browser tab, bookmarks, links from apps that don’t carry referrals, etc. The data below is where I pay attention. There, Google is ~11X bigger than Facebook, which is ~1.5X YouTube.

My prediction is that Google continues to dominate, no matter the prognostications about Facebook or Snapchat or Amazon or anyone else making inroads to the overall traffic pie.

#3: The Marketing Technology space will not have much consolidation (fewer exits and acquisitions, by percentage, than 2015 or 2016), but there will be at least one major exit or IPO among the major SEO software providers.

Scott Brinker has been helpfully tracking the growth and changes to the marketing software landscape over the last decade, and there’s been a metric ton of new entrants.

But, oddly enough, SEO has always remained a small player in the software world. The vast majority of the companies and tools in the list below are private, unfunded, and have annual revenues of <$ 1mm. A few larger players exist, but in every other marketing tech category, there’s at least one player at 2–10X the size of our entire market combined.

Part of this is because very few entrepreneurs in the space have chosen to go the VC-backed, billions-or-bust route vs. pursue the relatively higher success and survival rates offered by small investors or bootstrapping. Part of it is because SEO as an industry is dependent on Google, which creates risk that many entrepreneurs and investors dislike. And part is because SEO has a bad reputation thanks to its shady past and a few spammy operators.

In 2017, I believe we’ll see very little acquisition or IPO activity from martech players. But I think we will see one of the major SEO software players (most probably Yext, Searchmetrics, SEMRush, Brightedge, Conductor, STAT, Rio SEO, Sistrix, Yoast, or Moz itself) have a major exit. An IPO would make our field vastly more interesting to analysts and potentially investors and entrepreneurs, too. A large exit could start a wave of consolidation.

#4: Google will offer paid search ads in featured snippets, knowledge graph, and/or carousels.

In 2016, Google put shopping ads in image search, rolled out ads in local packs, and increased the number of top ads in AdWords to 4 (which can dominate many top-of-fold SERPs). Despite this, paid CTRs have been pretty flat.

Merkle/RKG data is awesomely transparent, but of course biased by the sites that use the agency and share their analytics/AdWords data. Directionally, it’s usually solid, particularly on metrics like paid CTR, and I trust that it’s rarely going to be way off. Their data also matches nicely to our own clickstream analyses, showing that 1.5%–2.5% of all search queries result in a click on a paid ad.

#5: Amazon search will have 4% or more of Google’s web search volume by end of year.

You might have seen a report noting that Amazon is “beating” Google as the place consumers start their product searches. Unfortunately, that report used survey data, and we’re all familiar with how poor web users are at estimating how they actually behave online.

Moz’s clickstream data was more revealing here, showing that Amazon’s probably ~2% the overall search volume of Google. You could certainly make the argument that perhaps only 4% of all Google searches are for products, and thus, Amazon is neck-and-neck. I suspect Google’s still winning here, but my prediction is that Amazon will grow their search penetration and volume, in part thanks to Alexa/Echo, and in part because of their formidable Prime strategy, to be 4% or more of Google (doubling where they were this past summer).

#6: Twitter will remain independent, and remain the most valuable and popular network for publishers and influencers.

It’s very in vogue to rag on Twitter — their share price has sunk. Their growth has been tepid. Trolls and abuse plague the platform and many of Twitter’s leaders are culturally locked-in to a focus on “free speech” over improving the platform for abused and marginalized groups. Buzzfeed’s report on these trends reveals a deep cultural rift that seems to be hurting the platform still.

Despite this, I’m bullish on Twitter remaining the most powerful way for publishers and influencers to connect, share, and converse. The platform’s open systems (versus the closed ecosystems of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc) and its huge media presence give it a hard-to-catch lead in this field. That, and no one else seems to be trying, possibly because Twitter hasn’t shown the growth that closed networks like Facebook have.

My other prediction, that Twitter remains independent, is a thorny and unpopular one. Supposedly, Twitter’s put itself up for sale, but the bidders have been less than excited (or perhaps the premium the company is seeking is simply too high). In 2017, I think we’ll continue to see an independent Twitter, growing revenue and users slower than Wall Street wants, but maintaining their cultural and influencer status.

#7: The top 10 mobile apps will remain nearly static for the year ahead, with, at most, one new entrant and 4 or fewer position changes.

Mobile apps have been a bugbear for many big brands, marketers, and app creators. While apps have dominated time spent on mobile, apart from games, the money to be made and that precious time spent is almost all flowing to the top few apps.

Nielsen reported that Amazon broke into the top 10 this year, but apart from that, it’s been fairly quiet in the rankings shakeups at the head of the app curve. What’s scarier is that Google and Facebook own a full 8 of the top 10 apps, and those apps are responsible for more than 90% of all app activity.

This is a winner-take-all market, and one with a surprisingly short tail to its demand curve. I’m predicting almost no change in 2017. Apps will be dominated by these few. For SEOs, apps continue to provide some extra ranking opportunities, mostly in mobile on Android (and a little less on iOS), but the “App Takeover” of SERPs and mobile search never appeared. Hopefully, you didn’t over-invest in the trend!

#8: 2017 will be the year Google admits publicly they use engagement data as an input to their ranking systems, not just for training/learning

2016 saw Google backtracking a bit on the issue of search/visit/click/pogostick data, most saliently via Paul Haahr’s excellent slide deck, How Google Works: An Ranking Engineer’s Perspective.

Since then, there have been fewer dismissals of this fact than in the past, but some Googlers have maintained in public talks and on Twitter that query and click data cannot influence rankings (which we’ve proven over and over is highly improbable). I’m proud of Google for their work over the last few years to be generally less misleading and more open on issues of how their search engine works (subfolders vs subdomains being one of the continuing outliers where statements don’t match reality). I’m hopeful this extends into the realm of engagement data because I believe it would have a real and positive impact on how many brands, publishers, and content creators of all kinds on the web think about what they create. The story in many circles is still “links + keywords,” and the nuance that low-engagement content (and sites) will, over time, underperform even if they do these right, would be a great nudge in a positive direction.


Now it’s your turn — where do you think I’m right? Wrong? Crazy? And what predictions are you making for SEO and search marketing in 2017?

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

The Future of Social Media Marketing: Experts Share Social Media Predictions for 2017

class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-21578" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__2017-social-media-marketing-predictions.jpg" alt="2017-social-media-marketing-predictions" width="600" height="350" srcset="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__2017-social-media-marketing-predictions.jpg 600w, http://www.toprankblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2017-social-media-marketing-predictions-300x175.jpg 300w" sizes="(max-width: 600px) 100vw, 600px" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Social media platforms enable people from around the world looking to connect and build personal and professional relationships. Earlier this year studies found that there are currently over 2 billion active social media users.

style="font-weight: 400;">If you consider the sheer number of people interacting on social networks, it seems like a no-brainer that both B2C and B2B brands should be spending time engaging with their audience, where they’re spending time. But finding a way to not only reach, but connect with audiences on social networks has become increasingly difficult.

style="font-weight: 400;">Just a couple years ago, brands were able to build audiences on platforms like Facebook and get in front of the vast majority of their followers without investing in social advertising. These days, the average brand on Facebook will only reach 1-2% of their audience without boosting posts. Need proof? The amount spent on social advertising has increased by href="https://cmosurvey.org/" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">234% in the past seven years style="font-weight: 400;">. Ouch!

style="font-weight: 400;">To help ease the pain, we went straight to the source and tapped into the brilliant minds of marketers from brands like LinkedIn, Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, BMC and our own team at TopRank Marketing to gain insights into their social media marketing predictions for 2017.

style="font-weight: 400;">Experts Share Their Top Predictions for 2017

Mike Stelzner

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21573" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Mike-Stelzner-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="mike-stelzner-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">CEO/Founder, Social Media Examiner />
href="https://twitter.com/Mike_Stelzner" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@Mike_Stelzner

/>

Information toll stations must be paid for by the those who create content. @Mike_Stelzner /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Information%20toll%20stations%20must%20be%20paid%20for%20by%20the%20those%20who%20create%20content.%20%40Mike_Stelzner&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">2017 Prediction: Content Creators Become Endangered Species

style="font-weight: 400;">Algorithms, bots, artificial intelligence and people working for very big companies will destroy the business models of people who produce content by disrupting the free flow of information.

style="font-weight: 400;">Before the Internet, the power brokers of information were a few media companies that controlled the newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television. The Internet busted through those barriers and allowed anyone to produce anything for any audience. Information flowed and content mediums like blogs and podcasts flourished.

style="font-weight: 400;">The Internet was the great system of disintermediation, eliminating the middleman and allowing a free flow of information.

style="font-weight: 400;">But, in the very near future, this information flow will be filtered and measured and censored in the name of “reducing clutter” and revealing “only what’s important.”

style="font-weight: 400;">Facebook will decide what you see. Google will serve up only that content that complies with its rules and are housed on its servers. Email solutions like Gmail and Yahoo will tighten their own algorithms so even reaching the inbox is at risk.

style="font-weight: 400;">The information distribution highway will have toll stations that must be paid for by the those who create content.

style="font-weight: 400;">If you want your content seen, you’ll need to house it inside the companies that control the toll stations. Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and more will incentivize content creators to not link to off-site content. These large businesses will become the equivalent of the 1990s America Online–a type of “Hotel California,” where you can enter but never leave.

style="font-weight: 400;">Traffic to websites will decline and blogs will shut down. Gone will be the days of information flow and true information freedom. The future will only be more controlled, more filtered and less open.

style="font-weight: 400;">But, born from this filtered, computer curated world, will come something new. Some young person in a spare bedroom will invent the next big idea that frees information once again. The pendulum will start swinging back and content creators will experience a new creative renaissance.

style="font-weight: 400;">Are you ready for the change?

Carlos Gil

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21574" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Carlos-Gil-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="carlos-gil-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Senior Manager – Social Media, BMC />
href="https://twitter.com/carlosgil83" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@carlosgil83

/>

Undoubtedly, live video content will continue to take over newsfeeds. @carlosgil83 /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=Undoubtedly%2C%20live%20video%20content%20will%20continue%20to%20take%20over%20newsfeeds.%20%40carlosgil83&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">The biggest challenge marketers will face in 2017 is the same that they seemingly face year over year which is keeping up with the innovation around emerging marketing channels and technologies, such as Snapchat, Facebook Live, and AR/VR, while still maintaining an active presence on the traditional platforms used by the masses (i.e. print, social, digital, etc.). Undoubtedly, live video content will continue to take over newsfeeds with Facebook flexing its muscle as the go-to platform for marketers meanwhile Snapchat, and its looming IPO, will result in Snapchat attracting more brands as advertisers to their platform.

Caitlin Burgess

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21575" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Caitlin-Burgess-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="caitlin-burgess-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Content Marketing Lead, TopRank Marketing />
href="https://twitter.com/caitlinmburgess" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@CaitlinMBurgess

/>

One opportunity in the coming year will be for brands to focus on user experience. @CaitlinMBurgess /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=One%20opportunity%20in%20the%20coming%20year%20will%20be%20for%20brands%20to%20focus%20on%20user%20experience.%20%40CaitlinMBurgess&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">The social media landscape is in a constant state of change, but the one thing that will probably never change is the reason people use social in the first place: to feel and style="font-weight: 400;">be style="font-weight: 400;"> connected.

style="font-weight: 400;">As a result, I think that one of the greatest opportunities in the coming year and beyond will be for brands to focus on user experience by creating a unique, entertaining and engaging style="font-weight: 400;">destination style="font-weight: 400;"> for their audiences.

style="font-weight: 400;">Think about it. Social media platforms are constantly tweaking their formats and algorithms to provide users with the best possible content and experience, making it more difficult for brands and marketers to get organic visibility. Plus, nearly every brand is on social media, competing for the top spots. But what if your pages were able to offer such an awesome, relevant experience that would entice people to navigate on their own to see what the latest discussion, video or tip was?

style="font-weight: 400;">All that said, I think to create a destination, one important focus will need to be on href="http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/10/7-helpful-hacks-successful-social-media-community-management/"> style="font-weight: 400;">social media community management style="font-weight: 400;">, not just traditional social media marketing. From native video and long-form content to actively encouraging and participating in discussions, you need to ask yourself why anyone would visit your pages in the first place. Do you have a niche expertise or offering? Do you provide great entertainment? What is it that could set you apart? How can your social content connect? Then combine all that with data and insights to begin building a strategy to get people there, participating and coming back.

Megan Golden

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21577" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Megan-Golden-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="megan-golden-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Senior Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions />
href="https://twitter.com/Goldmegs" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@Goldmegs

/>

content marketers are going to strive to become even more empathetic in their content topics. @Goldmegs /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=content%20marketers%20are%20going%20to%20strive%20to%20become%20even%20more%20empathetic%20in%20their%20content%20topics.%20%40Goldmegs&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/>

style="font-weight: 400;">Empathy in a World Divided

style="font-weight: 400;">From Brexit to the American election, 2016 has been an eye-opening year and a divisive one for many around the globe. A chasm has come to the surface in a way that really no one can deny. It’s a divided world. As a result, my prediction (and personal hope) for 2017 is that social media and content marketers are going to strive to become even more empathetic in their content topics. I hope we’re also going to be committed to creating content that is humanizing with the innate ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Andrew Hutchinson

class="alignnone size-full wp-image-21576" src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__Andrew-Hutchinson-2017-Prediction.jpg" alt="andrew-hutchinson-2017-prediction" width="200" height="250" />

style="font-weight: 400;">Content & Social Media Manager, Social Media Today />
href="https://twitter.com/adhutchinson" target="_blank"> style="font-weight: 400;">@adhutchinson

style="font-weight: 400;">
/>

The biggest shift in social media marketing is (and will be) focus. @adhutchinson /> href='https://twitter.com/intent/tweet?text=The%20biggest%20shift%20in%20social%20media%20marketing%20is%20%28and%20will%20be%29%20focus.%20%40adhutchinson&via=toprank&related=toprank&url=http://www.toprankblog.com/?p=21572' target='_blank' class='bctt-ctt-btn'>Click To Tweet />
/> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">For years, traditional marketing has aimed for broadcast, to reach as many people as possible, as often as possible. And that makes sense – brand association is a powerful device, and higher exposure leads to better cognitive connection in the consumer. But at the same time, the new age of social media, fuelled by the masses of online data, has opened the door to whole new approaches, methods of connection that no one is fully across yet, given it’s so new. style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">Because of this, I’d expect to see increased focus on both niche communities and better online and offline data connection in 2017. style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">On the first, personalization is growing, more and more brands are learning how to be more effective with content that’s targeted to individual users based on who they are, what they do and what they’re interested in, among many other traits. In times past, this was impossible, but such data is now freely available, and the more brands are using this more focused approach, the more the expectation for others to follow suit increases in step. Because of this, you can expect to see more brands segmenting and focusing their content and marketing efforts in order to appeal to more specific audiences and use-cases. style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;"> />
style="font-weight: 400;">On the second, social ROI has long been the thing that critics fall back on, that you can’t connect a ‘Like’ to a cash money result. But you can, and more and more systems and processes are being developed for just that. Facebook, for example, has been evolving its Conversion Lift metrics which correlate online ads and offline sales, incorporating data from the businesses POS system. With the evolution of beacons, geofencing and other tracking technologies, it’s going to become easier for more businesses to directly link their on and offline efforts, enabling them to outline definitive ROI trails.

style="font-weight: 400;">Create A Content Destination & Engage Your Audience

style="font-weight: 400;">Phew! If we take a look at just the last few months, there have been tremendous advances made in social technology, and the way that users interact with social networks. Imagine what all of 2017 will hold!

style="font-weight: 400;">Creating an impact on social comes down to a few very simple ideas which include finding ways to uncover how your social audience interacts (and do that) and developing a destination that they will want to come back to again and again (like blogs have traditionally done) so that you don’t have to rely only on advertising to drive eyeballs to your content.

style="font-weight: 400;">Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.

/>

href="http://www.toprankmarketing.com/tips-newsletter/" style="color:#6CAA3A; font:14px Verdana, Geneva, sans-serif;" onClick="javascript: pageTracker._trackPageview('Outgoing www.toprankmarketing.com/tips-newsletter/'); "> src="http://in4marketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/20eb9__email-feed.png" alt="Email Newsletter" width="48" height="37" border="0" align="left" style="margin-right:10px;" />
Gain a competitive advantage by subscribing to the
TopRank® Online Marketing Newsletter.

© href="http://www.toprankblog.com">Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
href="http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/12/social-media-marketing-predictions-2017/">The Future of Social Media Marketing: Experts Share Social Media Predictions for 2017 | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post rel="nofollow" href="http://www.toprankblog.com/2016/12/social-media-marketing-predictions-2017/">The Future of Social Media Marketing: Experts Share Social Media Predictions for 2017 appeared first on rel="nofollow" href="http://www.toprankblog.com">Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.


Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Find More Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

10 Predictions for the Marketing World in 2015

Posted by randfish

The beginning of the year marks the traditional week for bloggers to prognosticate about the 12 months ahead, and, over the last decade I’ve created a tradition of joining in this festive custom to predict the big trends in SEO and web marketing. However, I divine the future by a strict code: I’m only allowed to make predictions IF my predictions from last year were at least moderately accurate (otherwise, why should you listen to me?). So, before I bring my crystal-ball-gazing, let’s have a look at how I did for 2014.

Yes, we’ll get to that, but not until you prove you’re a real Wizard, mustache-man.

You can find 
my post from January 5th of last year here, but I won’t force you to read through it. Here’s how I do grading:

  • Spot On (+2) – when a prediction hits the nail on the head and the primary criteria are fulfilled
  • Partially Accurate (+1) – predictions that are in the area, but are somewhat different than reality
  • Not Completely Wrong (-1) – those that landed near the truth, but couldn’t be called “correct” in any real sense
  • Off the Mark (-2) – guesses which didn’t come close

If the score is positive, prepare for more predictions, and if it’s negative, I’m clearly losing the pulse of the industry. Let’s tally up the numbers.

In 2014, I made 6 predictions:

#1: Twitter will go Facebook’s route and create insights-style pages for at least some non-advertising accounts

Grade: +2

Twitter rolled out Twitter analytics for all users this year (
starting in July for some accounts, and then in August for everyone), and while it’s not nearly as full-featured as Facebook’s “Insights” pages, it’s definitely in line with the spirit of this prediction.

#2: We will see Google test search results with no external, organic listings

Grade: -2

I’m very happy to be wrong about this one. To my knowledge, Google has yet to go this direction and completely eliminate external-pointing links on search results pages. Let’s hope they never do.

That said, there are plenty of SERPs where Google is taking more and more of the traffic away from everyone but themselves, e.g.:

I think many SERPs that have basic, obvious functions like ”
timer” are going to be less and less valuable as traffic sources over time.

#3: Google will publicly acknowledge algorithmic updates targeting both guest posting and embeddable infographics/badges as manipulative linking practices

Grade: -1

Google most certainly did release an update (possibly several)
targeted at guest posts, but they didn’t publicly talk about something specifically algorithmic targeting emebedded content/badges. It’s very possible this was included in the rolling Penguin updates, but the prediction said “publicly acknowledge” so I’m giving myself a -1.

#4: One of these 5 marketing automation companies will be purchased in the 9-10 figure $ range: Hubspot, Marketo, Act-On, Silverpop, or Sailthru

Grade: +2

Silverpop was 
purchased by IBM in April of 2014. While a price wasn’t revealed, the “sources” quoted by the media estimated the deal in the ~$ 270mm range. I’m actually surprised there wasn’t another sale, but this one was spot-on, so it gets the full +2.

#5: Resumes listing “content marketing” will grow faster than either SEO or “social media marketing”

Grade: +1

As a percentage, this certainly appears to be the case. Here’s some stats:

  • US profiles with “content marketing”
    • June 2013: 30,145
    • January 2015: 68,580
    • Growth: 227.5%
  • US profiles with “SEO”
    • June 2013: 364,119
    • January 2015: 596,050
    • Growth: 163.7%
  • US profiles with “social media marketing”
    • June 2013: 938,951
    • January 2015: 1,990,677
    • Growth: 212%

Granted, content marketing appears on far fewer profiles than SEO or social media marketing, but it has seen greater growth. I’m only giving myself a +1 rather than a +2 on this because, while the prediction was mathematically correct, the numbers of SEO and social still dwarf content marketing as a term. In fact, in LinkedIn’s 
annual year-end report of which skills got people hired the most, SEO was #5! Clearly, the term and the skillset continue to endure and be in high demand.

#6: There will be more traffic sent by Pinterest than Twitter in Q4 2014 (in the US)

Grade: +1

This is probably accurate, since Pinterest appears to have grown faster in 2014 than Twitter by a good amount AND this was 
already true in most of 2014 according to SharedCount (though I’m not totally sold on the methodology of coverage for their numbers). However, we won’t know the truth for a few months to come, so I’d be presumptuous in giving a full +2. I am a bit surprised that Pinterest continues to grow at such a rapid pace — certainly a very impressive feat for an established social network.


SOURCE: 
Global Web Index

With Twitter’s expected moves into embedded video, it’s my guess that we’ll continue to see a lot more Twitter engagement and activity on Twitter itself, and referring traffic outward won’t be as considerable a focus. Pinterest seems to be one of the only social networks that continues that push (as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube all seem to be pursuing a “keep them here” strategy).

——————————–

Final Score: +3

That positive number means I’ve passed my bar and can make another set of predictions for 2015. I’m going to be a little more aggressive this year, even though it risks ruining my sterling record, simply because I think it’s more exciting :-)

Thus, here are my 10 predictions for what the marketing world will bring us in 2015:

#1: We’ll see the first major not-for-profit University in the US offer a degree in Internet Marketing, including classes on SEO.

There are already some private, for-profit offerings from places like Fullsail and Univ. of Phoenix, but I don’t know that these pedigrees carry much weight. Seeing a Stanford, a Wharton, or a University of Washington offer undergraduate or MBA programs in our field would be a boon to those seeking options and an equal boon to the universities.

The biggest reason I think we’re ripe for this in 2015 is the 
LinkedIn top 25 job skills data showing the immense value of SEO (#5) and digital/online marketing (#16) in a profile when seeking a new job. That should (hopefully) be a direct barometer for what colleges seek to include in their repertoire.

#2: Google will continue the trend of providing instant answers in search results with more interactive tools.

Google has been doing instant answers for a long time, but in addition to queries with immediate and direct responses, they’ve also undercut a number of online tool vendors by building their own versions directly into the SERPs, like they do currently for queries like ”
timer” and “calculator.”

I predict in 2015, we’ll see more partnerships like what’s provided with 
OpenTable and the ability to book reservations directly from the SERPs, possibly with companies like Uber, Flixster (they really need to get back to a better instant answer for movies+city), Zillow, or others that have unique data that could be surfaced directly.

#3: 2015 will be the year Facebook begins including some form of web content (not on Facebook’s site) in their search functionality.

Facebook 
severed their search relationship with Bing in 2014, and I’m going to make a very risky prediction that in 2015, we’ll see Facebook’s new search emerge and use some form of non-Facebook web data. Whether they’ll actually build their own crawler or merely license certain data from outside their properties is another matter, but I think Facebook’s shown an interest in getting more sophisticated with their ad offerings, and any form of search data/history about their users would provide a powerful addition to what they can do today.

#4: Google’s indexation of Twitter will grow dramatically, and a significantly higher percentage of tweets, hashtags, and profiles will be indexed by the year’s end.

Twitter has been 
putting more muscle behind their indexation and SEO efforts, and I’ve seen more and more Twitter URLs creeping into the search results over the last 6 months. I think that trend continues, and in 2015, we see Twitter.com enter the top 5-6 “big domains” in Mozcast.

#5: The EU will take additional regulatory action against Google that will create new, substantive changes to the search results for European searchers.

In 2014, we saw the EU 
enforce the “right to be forgotten” and settle some antitrust issues that require Google to edit what it displays in the SERPs. I don’t think the EU is done with Google. As the press has noted, there are plenty of calls in the European Parliament to break up the company, and while I think the EU will stop short of that measure, I believe we’ll see additional regulatory action that affects search results.

On a personal opinion note, I would add that while I’m not thrilled with how the EU has gone about their regulation of Google, I am impressed by their ability to do so. In the US, with 
Google becoming the second largest lobbying spender in the country and a masterful influencer of politicians, I think it’s extremely unlikely that they suffer any antitrust or regulatory action in their home country — not because they haven’t engaged in monopolistic behavior, but because they were smart enough to spend money to manipulate elected officials before that happened (unlike Microsoft, who, in the 1990′s, assumed they wouldn’t become a target).

Thus, if there is to be any hedge to Google’s power in search, it will probably come from the EU and the EU alone. There’s no competitor with the teeth or market share to have an impact (at least outside of China, Russia, and South Korea), and no other government is likely to take them on.

#6: Mobile search, mobile devices, SSL/HTTPS referrals, and apps will combine to make traffic source data increasingly hard to come by.

I’ll estimate that by year’s end, many major publishers will see 40%+ of their traffic coming from “direct” even though most of that is search and social referrers that fail to pass the proper referral string. Hopefully, we’ll be able to verify that through folks like 
Define Media Group, whose data sharing this year has made them one of the best allies marketers have in understanding the landscape of web traffic patterns.

BTW – I’d already estimate that 30-50% of all “direct” traffic is, in fact, search or social traffic that hasn’t been properly attributed. This is a huge challenge for web marketers — maybe one of the greatest challenges we face, because saying “I brought in a lot more traffic, I just can’t prove it or measure it,” isn’t going to get you nearly the buy-in, raises, or respect that your paid-traffic compatriots can earn by having every last visit they drive perfectly attributed.

#7: The content advertising/recommendation platforms will continue to consolidate, and either Taboola or Outbrain will be acquired or do some heavy acquiring themselves.

We just witnessed the 
surprising shutdown of nRelate, which I suspect had something to do with IAC politics more than just performance and potential for the company. But given that less than 2% of the web’s largest sites use content recommendation/promotion services and yet both Outbrain and Taboola are expected to have pulled in north of $ 200m in 2014, this is a massive area for future growth.

Yahoo!, Facebook, and Google are all potential acquirers here, and I could even see AOL (who already own Gravity) or Buzzfeed making a play. Likewise, there’s a slew of smaller/other players that Taboola or Outbrain themselves could acquire: Zemanta, Adblade, Zegnet, Nativo, Disqus, Gravity, etc. It’s a marketplace as ripe for acquisition as it is for growth.

#8: Promoted pins will make Pinterest an emerging juggernaut in the social media and social advertising world, particularly for e-commerce.

I’d estimate we’ll see figures north of $ 50m spent on promoted pins in 2015. This is coming after Pinterest only just 
opened their ad platform beyond a beta group this January. But, thanks to high engagement, lots of traffic, and a consumer base that B2C marketers absolutely love and often struggle to reach, I think Pinterest is going to have a big ad opportunity on their hands.

Note the promoted pin from Mad Hippie on the right

(apologies for very unappetizing recipes featured around it)

#9: Foursquare (and/or Swarm) will be bought, merge with someone, or shut down in 2015 (probably one of the first two).

I used to love Foursquare. I used the service multiple times every day, tracked where I went with it, ran into friends in foreign cities thanks to its notifications, and even used it to see where to go sometimes (in Brazil, for example, I found Foursquare’s business location data far superior to Google Maps’). Then came the split from Swarm. Most of my friends who were using Foursquare stopped, and the few who continued did so less frequently. Swarm itself tried to compete with Yelp, but it looks like 
neither is doing well in the app rankings these days.

I feel a lot of empathy for Dennis and the Foursquare team. I can totally understand the appeal, from a development and product perspective, of splitting up the two apps to let each concentrate on what it’s best at, and not dilute a single product with multiple primary use cases. Heck, we’re trying to learn that lesson at Moz and refocus our products back on SEO, so I’m hardly one to criticize. That said, I think there’s trouble brewing for the company and probably some pressure to sell while their location and check-in data, which is still hugely valuable, is robust enough and unique enough to command a high price.

#10: Amazon will not take considerable search share from Google, nor will mobile search harm Google’s ad revenue substantively.

The “Google’s-in-trouble” pundits are mostly talking about two trends that could hurt Google’s revenue in the year ahead. First, mobile searchers being less valuable to Google because they don’t click on ads as often and advertisers won’t pay as much for them. And, second, Amazon becoming the destination for direct, commercial queries ahead of Google.

In 2015, I don’t see either of these taking a toll on Google. I believe most of Amazon’s impact as a direct navigation destination for e-commerce shoppers has already taken place and while Google would love to get those searchers back, that’s already a lost battle (to the extent it was lost). I also don’t think mobile is a big concern for Google — in fact, I think they’re pivoting it into an opportunity, and taking advantage of their ability to connect mobile to desktop through Google+/Android/Chrome. Desktop search may have flatter growth, and it may even decline 5-10% before reaching a state of equilibrium, but mobile is growing at such a huge clip that Google has plenty of time and even plentier eyeballs and clicks to figure out how to drive more revenue per searcher.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Related Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

SearchCap: AdWords VP To Host Livestream, 2015 SEO Predictions & Google’s Santa Tracker Card

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. From Search Engine Land: AdWords VP To Host Year-End Livestream, Promises “Announcement You Won’t Want To Miss” On Wednesday, December 10, Vice President of Product…



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

18 Insightful 2012 Marketing Predictions From the Experts

2012 prediction influencersA lot of wonderful things happened in the world of marketing in 2011, but in the fast-paced world of inbound marketing, it doesn’t behoove us to dwell on the past. So to get everyone excited for 2012, we reached out to industry influencers (deep breath) Anita Campbell, Valeria Maltoni, David Meerman Scott, Michael Brito, Jason Falls, Stephanie Agresta, Todd Defren, Aaron Strout, Rachel Happe, and Chris Brogan (phew! did I get everyone?) and asked them what they think is in store for inbound marketing and its ‘Get Found,’ ‘Convert,’ ‘Analyze’ methodology.

Read what they have to say, and leave your own predictions for the future of inbound marketing in 2012 in the comments!

In 2012, companies will get found online by…

“…learning to be fluent in their conversation strategies.” Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent (Follow Her on Twitter)

“…finally realizing that real-time content creation is a great way to get found. Rather than rely on long-term campaigns, smart marketers will follow what’s happening in the media with an eye to newsjacking their way to getting found.” David Meerman Scott, Web Ink Now (Follow Him on Twitter)

“…being socially omnipresent and providing the right content, in the right channel, at the right time, to the right customer.” Michael Brito, Social Business News (Follow Him on Twitter)

“…focusing on more compelling content. We’re all going to have to get better to separate the signal from the noise for our customers. The days of top 10 lists and how-to’s are coming to a close. We’ve all got to get better at becoming awesome at content.” Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer (Follow Him on Twitter)

“…the investment they make in social. Not only will +1 impact search results, but social influencers will take on an enhanced role in driving consumers to FIND new products, services, and campaigns. It’s a whole new world for acquisition. Social media will drive how companies get found and fuel all other marketing channels. If you think the tail has been wagging the dog, just wait until 2012. The tail becomes the dog.” Stephanie Agresta, Weber Shandwick (Follow Her on Twitter)

…producing ever greater volumes of content that will be increasingly relevant to their customers and prospects (instead of their bosses).” Todd Defren, PR-Squared (Learn More on About.me)

“…paying more attention to more non-traditional social channels like SlideShare, Flickr/Picasa/Instagram, discussion forums, questions and answer sites like Yahoo Q&A, podcasts, and new social networks like Google+. Obviously, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention thinking about how getting discovered ‘offline’ using location-based marketing will lead to more discovery ‘online,’ so make sure you think through what role location and proximity play in your overall mix.” Aaron Strout, WCG (Follow Him on Twitter)

In 2012, marketers will convert more visitors into leads if they…

“…ask their audiences to do so. The social media pursuits have scared people into believing you can’t ask for the sale online anymore. That’s bullshit. If you’re providing value and pleasing your audience, they expect you to ask them to buy from time to time. Marketers will move past the social media hippie syndrome in 2012 and start converting.” Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer (Follow Him on Twitter)

“…have a community. Good content will help you get found. People will come to your site to learn more about you and what you do, but it’s community that keeps them coming back. Building collaboration and interactivity into your web presence will convert lurkers into friends and friends into customers.” Rachel Happe, The Community Roundtable (Follow Her on Twitter)

“…focus on building trust with the community first, then figuring out how to monetize (or get a lead). Asking permission, in a way.” Michael Brito, Social Business News (Follow Him on Twitter)

“…provide increasing levels of social proof of their products’ excellence. Conversions increase when you can motivate positive customer buzz that’s consistent, authentic, and easy to find.” Todd Defren, PR-Squared (Learn More on About.me)

“…use more short form video intended to equip your prospective buyers for success.” Chris Brogan, Human Business Works (Follow Him on Google+)

…build their tribes.” Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent (Follow Her on Twitter)

In 2012, marketers will analyze the effectiveness of their marketing by measuring…

“…the cost of acquiring social media followers and the cost of ongoing engagement with them. Understanding the costs will force companies to be more focused on which social media channels they use and cause them to tie their social media efforts more closely with business goals. After all, seeing what something is costing you has a tendency to clarify your goals, strategies, and tactics pretty quickly.” Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends (Follow Her on Twitter)

“…the disconnect between online and offline campaigns.” Todd Defren, PR-Squared (Learn More on About.me)

“…their own stuff. We’ve got to stop listening to the thought leaders and the bloggers about all this and start owning our own metrics. Why worry about ‘likes’ and followers — or even click-through rates and downloads — if they don’t underscore a business metric that matters to you? Instead of following the social media lemmings off the blogocliff, marketers will start paying attention to their goals, their objectives, their bottom lines, and what their executives want reported up the chain, and start measuring what matters to them, not what some blog — that knows nothing of their business — said they should worry about.” Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer (Follow Him on Twitter)

“…relevant social gestures.” Valeria Maltoni, Conversation Agent (Follow Her on Twitter)

“…’in real time,’ using robust social CRM technologies.” Michael Brito, Social Business News (Follow Him on Twitter)

What are your inbound marketing predictions for 2012?

Image credit: Cillian Storm

essential-guide-light-cta

Connect with HubSpot:

HubSpot on Twitter HubSpot on Facebook HubSpot on LinkedIn HubSpot on Google Buzz 

 


HubSpot’s Inbound Internet Marketing Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off


Advert