With 2018 on our doorstep, the Thrive team is taking a look ahead. What will our industry look like in 2018? What digital marketing trends will end, and which will begin? Our predictions cover everything from content marketing to reviews, social media and PPC.
Take a look at what we think will happen in 2018!
Online Reviews Will Increase
by Matt Bowman, President
As more people use the internet to make all forms of purchases, online reviews will grow as a way to build trust and credibility when making buying decisions. Small businesses must react to this trend, or they will be left behind by the competition. Services like uReview.me will be needed to help these businesses manage and grow their online reputation.
[bctt tweet=”Online reviews will grow as a way to build trust and credibility when making buying decisions in 2018. @ureviewme #digitalmarketing”]
Small Business Spend on SEO Will Hit an All-time High
by Matt Bowman, President
Small businesses (that want to grow) will spend more on SEO and digital marketing than ever before. They will be forced to spend their marketing dollars in the places that their customers are looking for them, which is now more than ever online. Digital marketing agencies like Thrive must be ready to manage the wave of businesses looking to rank higher and drive more leads and revenue in 2018.
Amazon Will Continue to Dominate and Expand
by Matt Bowman, President
Amazon has already put major retail stores out of business and this trend will continue. They will also be looking for ways to diversify their revenue and will look to grab more market share in the digital advertising space. They have the traffic and demand, now they must find ways to monetize ads on their site and steal marketing budget from Google and Facebook.
Remote Work Will Increase
by Matt Bowman, President
As businesses adapt to the digital age, they will look for ways to increase efficiency and will abandon large expenses like traditional office real estate costs. They will move more and more to remote workforces and allow their staff to work from home. This will create a rise in coworking businesses around the country, along with software and technology to keep remote teams connected. At Thrive, we embrace the remote work culture and have an amazing team of the highest caliber people living all over the world.
Dallas Cowboys play for NFC Championship
by Matt Bowman, President
The 2018 Cowboys will fix their offensive problems and make a run deep into the playoffs and will play for the NFC Championship against the LA Rams.
The Rise of Cryptocurrency
by Brent Nau, Director of Operations
There has been plenty of buzz in 2017 about decentralized digital currency, such as Bitcoin. As of November 2017, there were over 1,324 digital currencies, and we will probably see more appear. We saw several large companies like Microsoft, Overstock.com, Save the Children, and the eCommerce platform Shopify take the steps to integrate the ability to pay for services/products using digital currencies. In 2018, we will see more startups figuring how to allow the general public and eCommerce merchants to effortlessly accept, buy, and use digital currency in their everyday online purchases.
The mobile-first index will happen. Be ready!
by Adam Hankey, SEM/SEO Team Director
With the talk of Google’s mobile-first index being discussed more and more, it is important to look at how website speed and usability will become a huge differentiator for businesses targeting users on mobile devices. Google has already stated that when they eventually do roll out the mobile-first search index, they will begin with those sites that are already prepared for it. Ensuring that your hosting, design, and platform code are all optimized for speed and usability, and on ALL devices and platforms, for 2018 will put you ahead of many others who are hesitant to make the investment in these kinds of core changes to ensure their continued success.
[bctt tweet=”Ensuring your site is optimized for speed and usability on ALL devices and platforms will put you ahead of your competition in 2018. #digitalmarketing @Adam_Hankey”]
User behavior and engagement metrics will become increasingly important.
by Jonathan Jenkins, SEO Manager
This trend began a while back, but I think it’s likely Google and other search engines will continue to place more weight on user behavior, click through & bounce rates from the search engine results pages, etc.
Voice search strings will become more important in SEO.
by Josh Smith, SEO Manager
With technology like Google Home, Amazon Echo, Siri, Google Assistant, etc. becoming more widely adopted, the way that people search for information will change. This is one of the main purposes of RankBrain. However, we will see the language/text patterns of the searches themselves become more based on natural language and less based on the way most people perform a text search. For example: Instead of seeing search strings like “Best Dallas Attorney,” we will see more search strings like “Who is the best attorney in Dallas?” This will also factor into the new “Position Zero” theory of question-answer types of searches becoming more widely adopted.
Chiming in: Jonathan Jenkins
I think we may start to see more and more video results to voice search queries as new devices with virtual assistants are created (and also in mobile and desktop searches).
Changes in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)
by Alan Muther, SEO Manager
Google is testing showing 320 characters of a page’s meta description in the SERPs. I’m sure there are further plans by Google to test changes with what’s shown in the SERPs in the near future. Perhaps showing longer title tags or including URLs within the meta descriptions will be tested.
Automation in PPC
by Jacob Wulff, PPC Manager
Automation in Google AdWords and other PPC environments will continue to change the way we manage campaigns, ad groups, and ad copy. Look for this to take big leaps forward in 2018. The days of mammoth-sized accounts with granular setup structures and thousands of ad groups for keywords and their match types are long gone, and simpler, more easily optimized accounts will bring more focus on data and identify in-market trends going forward.
[bctt tweet=”Automation in Google AdWords and other PPC environments will continue to change the way we manage campaigns, ad groups, and ad copy in 2018. #PPC #2018predictions @iamjacobwulff”]
Content marketing will continue to grow & become more personalized.
by Joli Skow, Content Strategist
Content has been one of the top growing marketing strategies over the last several years, and it’s not slowing down. People turn to Google to answer all of their questions, and if you have the answers, your content needs to be there. Content marketing will keep moving away from non-useful content that’s there just to update the site with content and keyword density, and toward well-thought-out content that serves more of a purpose. Content will also become more personalized as companies get better at creating funnels and segments.
Brands will focus on user-generated content.
by Ben Mcnully, SEO Specialist
While the intense focus on influencer-based marketing sees a slight downturn, I foresee many brands turning to fan-made content to drive campaigns. With famous or large influencer groups charging too much for their reach, having curated digital storytelling from branded portals/pages makes perfect sense. This solves the issues of expensive and time-consuming content creation and brand affinity.
by Shabbir Aftab, Lead Developer
Youtube will continue to position itself as the future of content marketing with 15% growth in 2018.
by Christian Arriola, SEO Specialist
As more and more people turn away from their TVs to consume video content on platforms like YouTube, advertisers and brands are going to be investing more in video advertising to reach their audience on this platform. At the same time, YouTube content allows brands to engage with their audience in a much more personal way than text. So, I expect a 15% growth on YouTube content demand, and it will continue to disrupt the content marketing industry at a fascinating rate. This also includes the growth of influencer marketing on YouTube; a huge opportunity for businesses to reach huge audiences for still a low cost.
[bctt tweet=”I expect a 15% growth on @YouTube content demand in 2018, and it will continue to disrupt the content marketing industry at a fascinating rate. #contentmarketing #2018predictions @chrisarrio”]
More words. More comprehensive content.
by Amber Ooley, SEO Specialist
With the extended meta descriptions, Google is testing, search engines will also start favoring much longer content (we’re talking closer to 2,000 words), but also more in-depth and detailed content. Writing with your focus keywords in mind, but also including semantically-related keywords, will be important when developing your blog posts in 2018.
Real estate on the 1st page of search results will become increasingly competitive.
by Shannon Thammasiene, SEO Specialist
Real estate on the first page or even the first couple positions in search engine results will become more crucial and more competitive than ever. Extended meta descriptions, in combination with many SERP features such as knowledge graphs, rich snippets, related questions or images and video showing in first page results will give SEOs a unique challenge in 2018. For those who have already reached the first page, prioritizing high-traffic landing pages and keywords will be helpful to gain even more high ranking real estate. For those who haven’t reached the first page, continuing to optimize for a variety of SERP features can give businesses a unique opportunity to be seen.
Content will take precedence over everything.
by Moosa Hemani, SEO Specialist
Content is already important, but I think in 2018, websites that update content every once in a while will see a drop in their organic visibility. In order to be relevant, websites need content on a constant basis and need to be seasonal friendly. Like for eCommerce websites, having Black Friday and Cyber Monday related content around September and October and Christmas content around November and December will make them more relevant for users. Then, they will not only rank for seasonal keyword, but also see an improvement in other money-making keywords they are trying to rank for.
UX and SEO and More Focus on Local SEO
by Karen Visser, SEO Specialist
Search engines are paying more attention to user experience, therefore UX and SEO will need to work together more closely and focus on not only driving traffic to the website, but also engaging customers once they have reached the website.
There will also be an increasing importance of local SEO as users are using more “near me” and question-type searches in Google such as “Best sushi restaurant in Dallas?” This will slightly change how we perform keyword research and write content.
Further Decline of Organic Reach on Facebook
by Virginia Van Kampen, Social Media Specialist
Currently, organic reach for businesses on on Facebook is only around 4-5% of a page’s follower base. With competition continuously on the rise, this isn’t going to get any better any time soon. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s going to get worse. Over the course of 2017, businesses reported a decline in their organic reach on social media of by ~ 20-50%. My prediction is that this will continue to decrease towards an average organic reach of 1-3%.
Increased Influencer Marketing
by Virginia Van Kampen
With organic reach declining and the cost of advertising increasing, many brands are seeing the benefits of influencer marketing for broadcasting their brand. It is a much faster way of building trust with future customers/clients. While influencer marketing has been around for a while, it takes a lot of work to actually get quality influencers for your brand, which is why I think many people don’t bother doing it. I predict that in 2018, more brands will be willing to put the effort in to find some powerful influencers for their brands.
Machine Intelligence and Neural Networks
by Mike Wice, SEO Specialist
There will likely be an increase in software capable of making smart predictions based on large data sets. Specifically, I predict that programs utilizing TensorFlow, an open source machine intelligence system, will become more prevalent and could have some interesting applications in the realm of SEO. Google is already using RankBrain to rank sites, and I expect an emphasis on AI driven software in the near future.
Local Businesses Will Tighten Competition for Digital Agencies Nationwide
by Samuel Parrish, Sales Coordinator
With the increase in digital marketing agencies nationwide and the willingness of small- to mid-size businesses to leave their geographic market to find a digital partner, differentiators between agencies will tighten in 2018. The agencies that provide small town trust with big city results will retain more of these “new to digital” clients and set the standard for digital marketing as a sector. Exceptional results will not make up for poor client experience, and market share for agencies will increasingly reflect that.
[bctt tweet=”Agencies that provide small town trust with big city results will retain more of the ‘new to digital’ clients and set the standard. #digitalmarketing #2018predictions”]
3rd Party Data Targeting
by Ryan Hunter, PPC Specialist
We will be able to target/retarget people based on their offline purchases. Anyone using a credit/debit card or Apple Pay will eventually be tied to their device. Mastercard and their affiliates will offer ad placements, or at least targeting options.
Are you ready?
What did you think of the Thrive team’s predictions? Do they scare you, or are you ready for them? If you want to chat about getting ahead of these trends, give us a call!