After our roundup on the changes digital marketing has been through in 2017, we have got our best and brightest minds at Bulldog Digital Media to put together some predictions for how everything may change in 2018. Along with predictions of future trends, we’ll also talk about our own brand of professional insight into what else might be going down next year!
Obviously, some things are guaranteed to happen next year: Google will make a litany of changes to AdWords & their SERP algorithm, Oleg Vishnepolsky will still inexplicably clog up your LinkedIn feed, the percentage of people searching on mobile will keep going up, Twitter will keep making changes to keep their user base from dying out and Bing will still be a second class search engine (albeit one that can generate good results when given attention).
However, for everything else we might be right and we might be wrong, this is just us trying to predict what will happen a whole year in advance, it’s just a series of educated guesses and presumptions. No one can say with absolute certainty what will and won’t happen next year, so this is all just a little bit of fun. Enjoy!
Life As An Agency In 2018 – Lee Dobson (COO & Head Of Search)
With 2017 being a great year for Bulldog Digital Media, we’re thinking 2018 will be another great year for all agencies. Personally, I think branding for digital marketing agencies will be more important than ever, as agencies fight for the attention of possible clients. Because of this, I think we’ll end up seeing a lot more blogs, case studies and articles being pushed by agencies to increase their exposure.
As well as the branding & exposure aspects of agency digital marketing, we as an industry, need to move forwards with the way we present ourselves. Gone are the days of cheap links & churn and burn clients, moving into a new world of being one of the most in-demand services. Surviving in 2018 will mean taking everything you do to the next level; you’ll need your proposals, reports and anything you give to a client to be amazing, more than amazing, outstanding. With all the great agencies out there, you’ll need to do everything you can to distinguish yourself from the rest of the market.
When it comes down to it, we expect 2018 to be a great year for marketing agencies across the board, with the need for an online presence being as big as ever, the competition for clients will be insane so everything you do will need to be the best it can. Personally, I recommend investing in a new website, getting custom reports & proposals made and to work on increasing your own online presence. If you do all that, 2018 will be a great year for your agency.
How 2018 Changes For SEO – Andre Pierrie (Lead SEO & PPC Account Manager)
With over 200 different ranking factors in Google’s SERP algorithm, SEO has always been a complex science, this complexity is only intensified when you take into consideration the fact Google is constantly changing up their algorithms to provide the best possible results they can.
I predict the basic level of SEO should stay the same next year, rather than seeing game-changing updates (such as the original Penguin & Panda updates) I believe 2018 will be typified by rising trends across SERPs to provide the best possible results for users, be it in new SERP features (along the lines of local packs Knowledge panels, featured snippets and so on), the rise in voice search or the long-awaited mobile first index.
So to break it down here are the 3 of the biggest trends I think we’ll end up seeing in 2018.
1) Hey Google Tell Me About Voice Search In 2018
Are you still sceptical about voice search? Well looks like you may be on the wrong side of history here. Google has reported that 55% of teens and 40% of adults use voice search every single day; and, according to Google’s Behshad Behzadi, the ratio of voice search is growing a lot faster than type search.
With voice search becoming the new norm we need to change the way we do keyword research as voice searches tend to use normal conversational sentences rather than the odd sounding queries we would use in text searches. So get ready, start exploring every option because voice search is coming for you and it’s coming quickly!
2) I for One Accept Our New Mobile Overlords
Well here’s a surprise in 2017 mobile search began to dominate (who could have called that?) with more than 50% of all Google searches coming from mobile devices and the impending mobile first update on the horizon. Tie this in with the fact ‘mobile-friendliness’ is now a Google SERP ranking factor and you have a perfect storm for mobile dominance.
You should have got your site mobile ready in the run-up to Mobilegeddon in 2015, but if you haven’t caught up yet it’s not too late. There is still plenty of time for you to get yourself a shiny new mobile-friendly website.
3) Just How Brainy Is RankBrain Anyway?
So RankBrain has been around since Google introduced it in 2015, for the uninitiated RankBrain is an algorithm learning artificial intelligence system (sounds fancy right?). Basically, RankBrain exists to process search results and provide searches more relevant to what you want to find by learning about searcher intent.
So up until now, I’ve never really believed much in RankBrain, at its initial rollout it was only used for about 15% of queries and even then didn’t have a large impact on search. But going into 2018 Google have said that RankBrain is now in their top 3 ranking factors, so it’s nothing to be scoffed at. Combine this with the fact Google is going all in on “searcher intent” with their AI interpreting what the searcher is up to and you have to realise that RankBrain is getting bigger, it’s here to stay and it’s fundamentally going to change the way we do SEO. The key takeaway is that Google’s algorithm is just getting smarter and to keep up SEO’s need to get smarter as well.
So that’s just my prediction as to what will happen in SEO next year, will it all happen? Maybe, who knows? That’s part of the fun in SEO, it’s an ever-changing industry that will always throw new challenges our way.
Adwords in 2018 and beyond – Olly Hawkins (PPC Analyst)
As the buyer journey continues to rise in length and complexity, so must the tools we use to improve our PPC advertising campaigns. Thankfully, Google is gracing us with such weapons in 2018. We’re seeing further focus on audience targeting moving forward and less attention placed on keywords.
I believe this will be the core focus of AdWords campaigns in the near future as Google rolls out even more audience targeting features. Combined with an ever more complex Google AI, the future is looking great for us. Seeing as we finally have In Market audiences coming to the Search Network, this is only the beginning.
Google’s mobile-first index has begun rolling out and with it has come even more AdWord mobile capability & tools. At, ‘Google Marketing Next’ a bunch of exciting features were presented, starting with what I’m pumped for – ‘Google Optimise’, an official tool used for landing page testing and optimisation; with no coding required, I can’t wait to learn more.
AMP for display Ads – Google are saying up to a 5-second decrease in load time while maintaining their near enough original form, it’s sure to increase performance! I can’t wait for our client’s results to sky-rocket, once I get my hands on all of these features.
Link Building In 2018 – Buzz Carter (Head Of Outreach)
Now, this is probably going to be seen as a hot take (it shouldn’t), but I’m going out on a limb here and saying that getting backlinks will continue to be one of, if not the most, important part of SEO campaigns.
Every year we get a parade of people saying the value of backlinks will be diminished, yet still, backlinks remain as important as ever. Admittedly, the way we build backlinks has changed drastically over the years but their value hasn’t. Over the years, Google has tweaked their algorithm to make sure people don’t manipulate backlinks, so you have to earn them in an organic and natural way.
So, I believe we’ll see further steps away from older ‘black hat’ practices and steps towards backlink building and content marketing being pretty much the same thing. We know the best way to naturally get links is by outreaching to bloggers and journalists with quality content – whether that’s a written article, an infographic or even video content relevant to their audience.
A few other great ways to get links to your site in 2018, will be some of the more ‘advanced’ ways of outreach. Such as, broken backlink building and publishing unique data on your site that people will want to give reference links to (this can cover anything from a survey to a quirky stat or industry study that will give you great valuable data, that people will want to use).
At the end of the day, link building and outreach in 2018 is all about giving webmasters something no one else can give them and will be more about how you can provide value to webmasters and bloggers (whether it be from great content or helping fix a broken link), rather than just bribing them to link back to you.
So What’s Up With Social Media Next Year – Emily Wilson (Digital Marketing & Social Media Executive)
When it comes to social media, it’s becoming very clear that certain platforms are upping their game and staying one step ahead. Throughout 2017, there has been an obvious trend in video, which I can only imagine is going to carry on excelling in 2018. Video creation is far more engaging and appealing to people scrolling through their phones, as it requires minimal effort to watch and absorb and as such will be a great tool in any social media marketing campaign. With the four huge social platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat) all implementing video ad services, this is definitely going to be one to look out for with marketing strategies in 2018.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what I expect each social media platform to bring in 2018:
Twitter: We can’t deny that Twitter has been a bit ropey in recent years. It once was a platform for a world of hashtag gossip and direct news, but with other platforms keeping up with the digital age, Twitter seems to be plodding along behind. While Twitter is still a great place to head for interacting with like-minded people, a hashtag does not justify our need for interactive content. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as 2017 saw Twitter bring out a longer 240-character limit, meaning they might have a few more tricks up their sleeves for 2018 – can Twitter re-ignite its flame and pull people back in?
Instagram: The public can’t get enough of pretty pictures and videos, and this is exactly what Instagram has to offer. I am certain that Instagram will continue to draw many businesses in, with paid ads now being available, not to mention quick and easy posting at anyone’s fingertips. 2018 is going to be a huge year for Instagram.
Facebook: From the words of Mark Zuckerberg himself: “90% of Facebook content will be video-based by 2018”. Need I say anything else? Facebook is an excellent platform for digital content, and it will always be a platform that can offer its audience pretty much anything they want. Facebook also wins the race in regards to customer interaction, with its very own instant messaging app making the process 10x easier.
Snapchat: While there have been rumours circulating around the closure of Snapchat in 2018, it’s still an app which you will want to be keeping an eye on. Snapchat has brought many fun features to life recently, and I feel that there’s a whole lot more to come in 2018. Expect more paid partnerships and plenty of funky filters… with business watermarks on them.
To put it simply – 2018 is going to be the year of creative content; making users want to interact and learn. It’s time to step away from traditional long posts and lean into the digital age of bright images and short videos. 2018 is going to be the year of fun content… and I’d highly suggest focusing on your Facebook and Instagram platforms.
A Content Writer’s View On Content Marketing – Georgia Sparrow (Digital Content Writer)
As a content writer, of course, I am extremely passionate about the way writing adapts as time goes by. So, for me to predict 2018’s content changes is something I’m excited to write about. Here we go…
In 2017 there’s been many exciting new techniques found and tons of studies into the way readers retain information, in different formats and styles of writing.
Whether this is, the realisation that less, really is more when it comes to writing blogs, or that writing for infographics increases conversion rates more so than articles, we have learnt lots about the way our strange human minds work.
Let’s take this information, and attempt to expand on what our new findings could mean for the new year:
- Video content becoming more popular on websites, rather than just on social media
- More interactive content used to engage (quizzes, polls, surveys, short assessments etc.)
- Shorter, more concise blog posts and articles that reduce the useless ‘fluffy content’
- Content writers focusing mainly on the ‘skimmers’ (for clarification – those who skim read content, ignoring most of the copy)
Well, that’s it for me! Maybe I’ll be completely wrong and new studies will find that everything we currently know is wrong. But that’s the beauty of content writing, the most effective methods are always changing and advancing. The uncertainty of it, the not-knowing what techniques will convert readers in the future, is what keeps writing content so interesting and challenging.
A Designer’s View On Content Marketing – Ryan Toomey (Head of Design)
We all know videos are essential to web design, but I think videos and animations will be essential to every content and digital marketing campaign. We’ve seen a lot of video marketing already take place, but I think 2018 is the year where every campaign will need an eye-catching video. Videos draw in your audience, makes you stand out from the crowd and creates fantastic engaging content.
Your content should open the gates to increase conversions by aiding your buyer’s journey. Don’t create your content just for content’s sake, ensure you create it with a purpose. In 2018 you should be looking at how your content can build trust and lead people to buy your product.
With this being said, distribution and outreach will be as vital as ever in 2018. Next year will be filled with booming social media campaigns – ensure you’re pushing your content by outreaching effectively and strategically, build relationships with journalists, get to know the right people and your content will boom. Sometimes the tried and trusted methods are the most effective.
With the digital era in full swing, it’s never been easier for consumers to get the information they need in an instant. What I’m most excited about is that customers no longer need to be in front of a monitor to reach any type of content. You need to ensure that your content is responsive to all types of devices, mobile, desktop, tablets, even Apple watches and the new Amazon Echo.
2017 has been a great year for us and we’ve produced some amazing content, but in 2018 we here at Bulldog are going to be creating content that is more responsive, topical and engaging in hopes that it will launch the consumer forward. On top of this, we’re going to strive to maintain and foster customer relationships even further through content.
Going into the new year brings another step forward for digital and content marketing. As Virtual reality is only going from strength to strength, this opens up a world of new possibilities for content marketing. Shopify now has their new VR app which helps online shoppers customise clothing in virtual reality. I think 2018 could see VR take the content marketing industry by storm!
There we have it, our predictions for what will happen in Digital Marketing in 2018. Check back this time next year and we’ll see how right (or wrong) we were with our predictions! Nevertheless, we hope that 2018 will be a great year for us and you.
Here at Bulldog, we have some intense goals for next year! We’ve already been nominated for 9 industry awards across 4 different awards events in 2017 and next year, we’re looking to increase that number. And hopefully, bring some trophies back to the office, as well as, continuing to grow and getting even more great campaigns running.
If you have any predictions for where marketing will go in 2018, why don’t you let us know in the comments? Come on, let’s get the discussion going, we want to hear about where you think the industry will be in the next 12 months.