Here it is, the obligatory predictions blog. So often an exercise in placing safe bets, these pieces can often fall short of delivering anything actually useful. In fairness, predicting the future is tough. Just ask anyone who was convinced we were all going extinct in 2012 …
Hopefully, we can bust that stereotype here. It can be incredibly useful to consider how the landscape of any industry may shift over a period of time, but that’s especially true of digital marketing. We rely so much on understanding; consumer habits, the evolution of technology, and the Google big wigs’ plans for global domination are all things we need to be aware of. Being able to plan ahead means, logically, that we’re able to strategise more effectively. Being stuck in the past only makes it more likely that we’ll be left there.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at what the next 12 months in digital marketing could have in store for us.
People want things now these days. They don’t want to sit for 20 minutes and read a well-constructed thesis, because who’s got time for that?
If you want to stay relevant, be prepared to start churning out fast content. That means content people can look at for a couple of seconds and instantly get it. To be clear, we’re not talking about rushed content; high-quality ‘fast’ content (which, we assume, is what you’re after) does take time to create. It requires consideration and careful planning, just as all the best content does.
Instagram and, more recently, TikTok have it right. There’s little fuss, little room for extraneous details, and little reason to linger on one thing for more than about thirty seconds. Instagram stories give you snapshots of your favourite celebrities’ day-to-day lives, while TikTok’s video uploads are capped at a mere 15 seconds for anyone hoping for some time in the spotlight. Pretty much everything popular these days is quick, such is the diminution of our collective attention spans. Still reading The Telegraph cover to cover? You’re in the minority, my friend.
Make sure that your content gets to the point.
The importance of real people
Fake news. Twitter trolls. These two concepts have been pretty inescapable recently, and they’re heavily linked with each other.
Plenty have spoken about the need to address these two pressing issues, so it seems likely that we’ll see steps taken to prevent people from hiding behind their keyboards and causing mischief (and, sometimes, worse). That means more verification, more proof, and more intelligent platforms. On a more local level, think fake reviews for an electrician. That’s pretty much the equivalent of fake news for online businesses, and we can expect to see tougher penalties introduced for any company still dabbling in those particular dark arts.
To be clear, people are always likely to find a way to beat the system. If something’s introduced over the next 12 months, it won’t be long before the trolls fight back with some ingenious counterpunch. 2020 could well signal the start of a different approach to anyone with a less-than-genuine approach, though, with stricter measures to all of the falsity almost certain to be introduced.
An entity is, essentially, a thing. Entities can be ideas, places, people, subjects … you get the idea. Their importance in the digital marketing world mainly concerns SEO and, of course, the all-powerful Google.
Entities are all about Google understanding concepts, and applying that understanding to the natural use of language. Five or six years ago, you could add a few words to your website and hope to appear on page one for those words – that’s primarily because terms were viewed in isolation. That is no longer the case. Context and prior understanding is now being taken into account by search engines, thanks to entities being prioritised over individual, isolated terms.
But how, exactly, can we use entities in SEO moving forward? Google uses a number of factors to build up its understanding of various entities; relatedness, notability, contribution, and prizes are all assessed every time a new entity comes along. This new, holistic approach provides a fresh perspective for digital marketers and SEO specialists to consider. Google is constantly looking for ways to satisfy its users’ intents as effectively as possible, and having an understanding of context should only help in that respect. If you’re hoping to rank for a particular keyword, you have to view it as an entity. That means putting it into context – finding out what Google already thinks about your keyword/entity and working with that.
More Google Business (yes, more!)
Google has already made it pretty clear that it wants you to stay on the search engine. Answer boxes, ‘people also ask’ sections, and a marked increase in Google Business emphasis all make that obvious. With new features popping up every month or so on the platform, it’s not exactly outlandish to suggest that Google’s rather keen for everyone to buy into its business listings.
Want to know how to combat this particular trend from the world’s biggest search engine? Easy: join in. Do exactly what Google wants you to do, because they’re actually telling you what you need to do. We realised this a long time ago, but no good ever came of taking on Google when you’re hoping for rankings and traffic. If you can’t beat them, join them – and no, you can’t beat Google.
Expect to see even more emphasis placed on Google Business throughout 2020. That means new features and an increase in importance. Could the businesses in Google’s local pack be given more room at the top of SERPs, further incentivising a strong presence there? The specifics are neither here nor there – the important point is simply that we’ll continue to see Google Business take centre stage in the world of local search.
Last year’s predictions
Obviously, it’s impossible to make any guarantees in this industry. If you want our advice, though, you’ll take measures to ensure that your website fits in with our four main points: ensure that your website is quick and your content digestible; steer clear of fake reviews, and flesh out your testimonials and employee profiles to make your company seem ‘real’; put all of your targeted terms into their wider context; and stay on top of your Google Business.
To find out more about how Active Internet Marketing (UK) could transform your website’s performance and visibility, get in touch with the team. You can call us on 01604 765796 or fill out one of our online contact forms.