Spotting marketing trends before they happen is vital for keeping ahead of the competition and generic trends like ‘go mobile’ are no help to anyone – we know that stuff.
So here are the SEO and PPC trends that will really matter in 2017 and what you need to do about them.
#1: If you want traffic, pay for it
This won’t come as good news to many business owners but it’s the cold hard truth. Google isn’t going to kill off organic traffic entirely (it’s still a search engine after all) but there are two walls closing in on ‘free’ traffic.
First, there’s the fact Google makes its money from paid ads, not organic traffic. So you can expect to see ads take up yet more space on the SEPRPs and organic results to fall further down the page – especially on mobile.
The other factor is Google doesn’t want users to leave its services. Once this happens, it can’t guarantee people will continue to see its ads or hand over precious data to the tech giant. Which is why we’re seeing features like Accelerated Mobile Pages, a growing presence of Google Maps in local search and other Google products that stop traffic landing on business websites – unless you pay for it, of course.
#2: Get ready to fight (or join) the tech giants
Google isn’t the only one trying to keep users locked into its platform. Facebook is doing the same with Instant Articles and its new chatbot integration with Messenger. The two tech giants are fighting to keep users inside their platforms for as long as possible – and they’re doing a pretty good job of it so far.
The problem is neither Google nor Facebook is going to lose this fight. The loser will be website owners who miss out on the traffic they used to readily generate from these channels.
It won’t be a two-way fight for much longer easier. The rise of AI personal assistants is going to change the nature of the web. Google (Allo), Apple (Siri), Amazon (Alexa), Microsoft (Cortana) and all the major tech players are working on their own personal assistants, designed to handle every online action users take.
The end result will be a closed web where users are locked into the same five or so platforms for everything they do online. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds; users already spend the vast majority of their time using the same five mobile apps.
So what’s an online business owner to do? Read on…
#3: Year of the chatbots
There’s a lot of hype around these things right now and it’s clear 2017 is going to be the year of chatbots. Whether they become the hottest property in marketing next year or crash and burn remains to be seen, but it’s about to get interesting.
The key thing to know about chatbots is they can integrate with the AI platforms Google and co. are building. Facebook has already integrated the technology into its Messenger app and this is a big invite from the tech firm for brands to join its vision for the future web.
We’re at a turning point where owning website alone won’t be enough to get your brand seen in the right places. Chatbots are the first technology that fits in seamlessly with where the corporate web is heading and this is why they’ll be important in 2017 – perhaps beyond.
#4: Keep an eye on progressive web apps
Another technology to keep an eye on in 2017 is progressive web apps. Unlike chatbots, these aren’t ready for widespread adoption yet but there’s a lot of potential in the concept and early implementation.
Progressive web apps will remove the need for users to download mobile applications. Instead, Google or whichever platform people are using will download these files in small chunks when users need them to perform specific tasks.
This removes the key barrier between users and mobile applications as we currently know them. However, what’s more interesting (in relation to what we’ve been talking about so far) is this technology will allow Google and the others to integrate small parts of your app into their platforms.
It’s pretty much the same concept as AMP, where Google nabs your content and puts it on its servers. You don’t get the traffic (at least not right away) but your content and website still has a shot at generating a lead.
#5: Get ready for an omnichannel web
We’re still using a web made up of fixed platforms that are largely isolated from each other. You have a website, social media pages, search engines and email marketing – all working together but clearly separated.
This is going to change over the next few years and the shift has already begun. The Internet of Things (IoT), chatbots, AI personal assistants, progressive web apps and every new technology is moving towards an online world where everything is integrated.
This means we need to focus our attentions on omnichannel platforms – those that can integrate with the other apps your target audience uses most. We’re already seeing this happen with chatbots in messaging apps and the early examples of progressive web apps. In fact, we’ve been doing this for a while now with deep linking but things are moving on to a whole new level now.
The big challenge in 2017 for online business owners is figuring out their place in ‘the next web’. Simply having a website and relying on SEO and social media marketing isn’t going to cut it for much longer. For the tech giants to send traffic your way you’re going to have to give them something in return. The most obvious answer is paying for ads to get your brand seen but the nature of these ads is going to change too.
Sooner or later users are going to stop opening up Google Chrome or other applications to complete tasks. Their chosen apps will be constantly running in the background, integrated with everything else they need to get things done online. What we still don’t know yet is how exactly individual businesses are going to fit into a more automated web – but we need to figure out the answer asap.
If you would like to talk more about it, please contact me whenever you would like at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my very best to help.
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