Digital Marketing Trends to Fuel 2018: Q1

New year, new series. Introducing a quarterly digital marketing guide from our agency experts.

You don’t become a true Globe Runner without rocketing ahead of the curve. Trends help us navigate our client’s digital marketing trajectory and anticipate speed bumps. To do that, we have to crunch data from every part.

From new SEO strategies and PPC changes to social media algorithm updates and web dev trends, here are what have been fueling digital marketing plans in Q1 this year.

Technical SEO/Link Building:

  1. tf/idf

Google makes huge computations to understand your web content. Keywords help some, but in the end, its numerical statistics are responsible for indexing and language processing.

If you’re trying to rank for a specific topic, make sure you understand how to operate within a Tf*idf framework. The acronym of this search engine ‘building block’ stands for “term frequency times inverse document frequency.” In short, it determines the relevancy of a word or phrase in a page or document.

  1. Voice Search

Consumers aren’t strangers to voice-activated commands (think Siri, Alexa and the like). Where voice search was once relegated to our phones, smart assistants now live inside all types of tech devices including smart TVs, smart TV sticks (Chromecast/Amazon FireStick), computers and speakers.

During the 2017 holiday season, smart speakers were the big winners of Black Friday, offering far-reaching opportunities for businesses looking to advertise online.

  1. Expanded Meta Descriptions

To provide more helpful context, the descriptions that accompany a Google search result are expanding. Where they once had a hard stop at 165 characters, they now casually cut off around the 300 mark.

Take advantage of the new character limit by prioritizing the highest traffic pages on your website. Work with your CMS or SEO specialist to re-optimize them, accommodating for the longer length limits.
seo

Local SEO/Citation Updates:

  1. Schema Mapping and Citation Optimization

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Microdata sounds small but has a huge impact on the authority of your site. Your branding may win over the customer in the end, but it’s Google that initially determines whether you make the ranks.

  1. Q&A on Google My Business

Google My Business Questions & Answers gives customers a direct line to business owners where they can answer questions about the company. Content is kept in a knowledge panel where the crowdsourced FAQs can be boosted in ranking or flagged as spam with a thumbs up or down.

  1. Replacing Google +

The idea behind creating a free Google My Business account is simple. Doing so allows companies to make updates and changes to how their business turns up in searches.

Now, the G+ replacement also offers a way to post events and promotions, which, done well, is very likely to increase your website’s visibility and CTR (click-through-rate).

Social/Content:

social media

  1. Facebook Algorithm update: “Engagement Bait”

Facebook has been systematically curating the order in which we see our content. What was once a simple first-come-first-served model has morphed into posts that are demoted based on complex algorithms.

Most recently, posts that make blatant calls for likes, shares, tags or comments get sent to the back of the line. Once again, your business needs quality content to compete for online exposure.

  1. Facebook Newsfeed Changes

A second announcement to be aware of: as of January 11 of this year, Facebook will make changes to our newsfeeds. These could significantly hurt your brand’s social media marketing efforts, though business pages have been seeing this happen slowly over the past couple of years.

To show they’re all about connection, Facebook will now prioritize posts from friends and family. Content from brands and publishers will rank much lower; however, Facebook Ads appear to be safe for the time being. Proving once again, you need to pay to play on social media.

  1. Instagram Stories

Instagram Stories has just celebrated its first birthday. Pioneered by Snapchat, the format is similar, allowing users to capture videos and photos of moments throughout their day.

Brands are no stranger to advertising on Instagram. Now, the ability to give consumers an intimate look at the highlights of their day is just one of the reasons Stories is so instrumental in social media marketing. You can add polls to your story and encourage users to share their opinion, and you can even save the story and make it a permanent ‘highlight’ that will live underneath your bio.

PPC:

ppc adwords

  1. Voice Search

If seeing Voice Search twice in one article has you scratching your head, open your ears instead.

The issue for PPC and voice search centers on segmenting and targeting voice search phrases. As a digital agency, our job is to understand how we can best use this data. By extrapolating these voice search phrases, we can include Broad Match Modifier terms related to “phrases” in question format. In short, we help catch voice searches, and that makes our clients show up in paid search results.

  1. Google Home Services Ads/Local Services by Google

Need help managing leads? Google is here to help you. Though it’s been slow to roll out, advertisers offering services can now budget based on how many leads they want to receive. The format of the ads will look more like a digital business card than an ad, allowing potential clients to make contact more directly and immediately.

Businesses in the 17 cities looking to capitalize on local service ads need to undergo the roughly two-week verification process that includes employee background checks and certification.

  1. Purchasing from Shopping Ads

Transactions just got a whole lot simpler for customers. Now, consumers can buy products displayed within Google Shopping ads with the simple click of an ‘easy checkout’ button. They never even have to leave the Google-hosted landing page and can pay directly with the payments uploaded to their Google accounts.

Because buyers don’t need further information on the products before they buy from the platform, it’s a bold way for Google to assert, “people trust us.”

Website/Development:

  1. Subtle Animations

These digital interfaces were all the rage towards the end of 2017 and showed no signs of slowing at the beginning of 2018.

Web developers should, however, emphasize implementation through their CMS. This creates a prime focal point as it transitions the responsibility away from the time-costly development teams to the content authors.

  1. Managed Dedicated CMS Hosting
  2. Surging hosting solutions are moving away from Dedicated/Cloud hosting to managed dedicated CMS hosting, like WPENGINE for WordPress.

  3. Website Push Notifications

If you thought push notifications were relegated to your smartphone, we have news for you: they’ve now caught up to the app space, allowing your WordPress site to keep your audience up-to-date with all the latest news and offers.

Creative/Art Direction:

creative direction

  1. Simplified Packaging

Most everyone in the industry has tried nice 4-color printing. Since it’s available in almost every kind of packaging, the current graphic design trend is oriented toward simplification. This allows clients to a) stand out and b) save money on printing.

We’re not advocating for minimalism here. Instead, it’s a high concentration of the core info, including graphics all laid out with a simple treatment that doesn’t dilute the message.

  1. Authenticity

Consumers are responding more positively to authentic images, stories, and people. The takeaway here: if you’re looking for visual content, know your audience would rather see images and videos shot with a phone, as opposed to stock photos, especially if it helps tell the story. Of course, commercial photographers are still highly recommended if the marketing budget allows.

  1. Fonts, fonts, fonts

Graphic designers see more hand-drawn fonts from designers. And why not, no two are the same! We can make graphics out of words alone and in whichever font we choose. Although it remains a beloved font with plenty of life left in it, really, this proves there’s more to life than Helvetica.

Stay tuned for more Digital Media Trends to blast off in 2018!

Have questions about anything we covered here? Make contact!