Tis the season for looking at the new year and what’s ahead in the world of digital marketing. Even though the proposed Google updates alone could fill a book, here’s an abridged version.
GOOGLE WILL ROLL OUT ITS MOBILE-FIRST INDEX FOR EVERYONE
The rumors have been circulating all year about exactly when Google will roll out its mobile-first index to the masses, until Google clarified it would be the beginning of 2018. Google will start looking at websites based on how mobile devices (smartphones, tablets) see the site, rather than how desktop users see it. If you haven’t moved to a responsive web design, now is the time! Though responsive sites don’t gain a direct rankings boost in search engines, user experience on a site is taken into account, so if a mobile user comes across your legacy desktop site and immediately leaves, your rankings could suffer because of it.
MAKE YOUR WEBSITE HTTPS… OR ELSE
Google and other major search engines have signaled they prefer https protocol over http. Though there is no direct search engine rankings boost, making the switch can be beneficial for other reasons: More accurate website analytics (which can better inform business decisions and tell you exactly where your web traffic is going) and avoiding the “not secure” message Chrome browser users see on pages asking for information to be submitted—even if it’s just a simple “sign up for our newsletter” email input.
VIDEO IS GETTING SHORTER—AND LONGER
Video spots are being devoured at unprecedented rates—as long as they’re engaging. With the release of the six-second spot during a Big Ten football game in November, short-form videos are popping up beyond YouTube intros and Facebook ad pre-roll. The same goes for longer video content. Studies have shown that people will watch spots longer than 30 seconds—provided it’s the usual: entertaining, informative or otherwise engaging.
VIRTUAL AND AUGMENTED REALITY WILL SEE (MORE) DAYLIGHT
Just don’t expect a repeat of Pokémon GO anytime soon. While that smartphone game was a true game changer (and the popularity of other games like Zombie Run prove it’s still a strong space), the next big innovation has yet to hit. 2018 just may be the year when Google, Apple, Microsoft, Sony—someone—figures out how to translate this niche technology into a household staple.
LOCAL LISTINGS AND REVIEWS WILL BE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
As Google ups its presence in the review space, we’re seeing a reaction from Yelp (stricter adherence to their site guidelines) and a renewed importance on including reviews or testimonials on your website and social properties. Paid search gets a nod in this space too, as Google has opened up local search results listings (like the map) to paid placements. So, the next time you’re looking for a good pizza, check whether it’s an ad and the reviews.
What do you think will be the biggest innovation in digital marketing in 2018? We’d love to hear from you.
By: Elizabeth Pontillo
Elizabeth is a digital strategist at Austin&Williams. She spends her time strategizing clients' search engine performance and staying up to date on social media. She also appreciates a good grammar joke.