One of the great things about digital marketing is that it’s a field that’s always evolving – sometimes so incrementally that you barely even notice, sometimes in sweeping leaps that make it feel like the whole world has turned upside down.
What do the next few years hold for SEO, social media, and content marketing? Here are five big predictions worth keeping in mind for the next five years of digital marketing:
A Complete Restructuring of SEO
SEO is an ever-changing beast, and the next three to five years promise some of the most dramatic shifts to ever hit search engines, as a result of a few major advancements.
For one thing, Google – the worldwide leader in search – has massively been restructuring search engine results pages (SERPs), to the detriment of some longstanding SEO tactics. Excerpts from many sites now appear directly on the SERP itself, lessening the need for searchers to actually click through to a landing page for the information they sought. There is already evidence that these changes, however small, can massively impact a business page’s traffic – for the worse.
Beyond changes to SERPs, the reality is that search functionality is, itself, changing. With the continuing rise of mobile, apps are quickly supplanting browsers as the go-to for internet users, which could dramatically change how we search forever. Similarly, voice search – aided by the rise of smart home assistants like Google Home and the Amazon Echo – is taking a bite out of traditional search results. Now, as consumers, we don’t even need a screen – let alone a webpage – to seek out information or complete a purchase.
It’s hard to stress how huge an impact these shifts could have for marketers who rely on traditional SEO techniques – and how important it will be to work with a content marketing team that knows the ins and outs of the evolving landscape!
The Rise of VR
2016 and 2017 will go down as breakthrough years for VR and augmented reality experiences, with the expansion of Oculus Rift, the overwhelming popularity of Pokemon Go, and the release of Snapchat Spectacles.
Look for savvy content marketers and brands to really hone in on VR experiences as a new frontier for content marketing in the years ahead, as the technology grows more and more commonplace. From video games to immersive sensory experiences, augmented reality quite literally opens up a new plane of exploration and innovation for brands who are ready and able to buy in.
Growing – And Contracting Content Lengths
There has long been a debate among content creators about whether content should skew long or short; there are certainly arguments to be made for both. Short content, for instance, is easy to digest, particularly in our era of hyper-short attention spans. On the other hand, there is evidence that longer content gets shared more on social media, and may even rank more highly on SERPs.
Expect the gulf between these two styles to grow even wider within the next few years. Short content will grow even more brief and easy to consume, and longform content may expand even further, taking the form of immersive online experiences, eBooks, and mammoth articles.
Your brand will need to decide what approach to content works best for you – whether you’re going to opt for quantity and brevity, or invest the time, money, and talent it takes to research, design, and flesh out the high quality longform content that audiences are coming to expect.
A Native Advertising Boom
Native advertising refers to content posted by a media outlet that mimics the look and feel of an editorial piece, but which is bought and paid for by an advertiser, as a means of promotion.
Native advertising has been steadily growing in popularity for years now – many media outlets, such as the Onion, now have whole teams devoted to native content, and the profession was zeitgeist-y enough to warrant a plotline in an early season of Girls. But within a few years, native content could well have grown even more important to advertisers. Why? Well, marketers are going to grow even more eager to put content in front of an audience without giving off the appearance of actually selling a product, as traditional advertising continues to curry less and less favor with consumers.
As audiences grow more savvy – and more selective about where they spend their limited time online – reaching them on the sites that they visit, in a style that they recognize, could very well make or break the success of a brand’s content marketing efforts.
The Stabilization of Live Video
Facebook has been pushing live video as the future of its platform for some time now, investing heavily into advertising the product and boldly predicting the death of text within our lifetimes. We still think these prognostications are a bit far-fetched; live video, in its current iteration, is often wonky and non-responsive, and the content that has come across it has often been problematic and troubling.
But, with that said, there is every reason to believe that live streaming video will eventually blossom into the social media cornerstone that Mark Zuckerberg (and, seemingly, the rest of Silicon Valley) expect it to be. Expect live video to continue to grow in popularity, particularly as its early bugs are worked out and its functionality spreads across platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
Who knows? Someday we may even see live video integrated with other aspects of the web, from online chat rooms to SERPs.
Want to chat about any of these innovations? Ready to get a jump on your digital marketing efforts before the Next Big Thing hits? Drop us a line today to get started forming the strategy that’s perfect for your brand!