27 Dec Truth or Dare: Did Our 2015 SEO Predictions Come True or Were They Too Daring?
Back in May, we gave you five predictions for the future of SEO. Although many signs of the times will take months and even years to manifest themselves, just a few short months later, we can evaluate whether our suggestions were on the right track for the SEO industry.
Read on to find out if we were too bold in our predictions or if we correctly foresaw the direction of online marketing for 2015.
1. SEO and social media will fuse to form the new standard for PR and marketing practices.
Although SEO, marketing, and PR have their own distinct niches, you rarely heard one mentioned without the other. In fact, a recent article from Forbes Magazine described the majority of SEO and PR techniques taught today as “one and the same.”
Today, and into the future, PR professionals can expect to expand their knowledge base to include basic SEO and vice versa. Employers expect their marketing departments to be versed in the latest online marketing techniques, search engine research, and social media all rolled into one.
PR and SEO professionals can work together to set goals and business objectives that will raise awareness about specific brands. Then both teams can coordinate content calendars for clients, craft blogs to meet industry needs, and plan events and stunts to garner attention from the media.
2. The fittest social sites will survive.
Since we last blogged about the future of social media, we haven’t seen any platforms metaphorically voting themselves off the island. But what we have seen is that social media sites across the board are updating their tactics to cater to a new generation of users.
Take Snapchat, for instance. Just a few short years ago, this clever app was circulating among teens and college students as a way to send cheeky photos to friends for a fleeting moment.
Today, Snapchat has upped its game and is dominating other social media in the marketing world. In fact, Snapchat boasts a daily 700 million snaps, in contrast with Twitter’s 500 million daily tweets. What used to be a time-waster among friends is now a major media hub for companies like Cosmopolitan and CNN.
So what is Snapchat doing right?
- It embedded video capabilities. Social media stats agree: visual content increases engagement. Video content increases engagement exponentially. When Snapchat allowed users to upload their own videos, people all over the world increased their interactions with peers and brands.
- It gave a worldwide audience a way to participate in live events. With the added news feature and snap stories, Snapchat lets fans all over the world get to know the tourism industry in their favorite cities or watch the red carpet leading up to an awards ceremony. And since all content is user driven, the under- 10-second highlights from Snapchat’s story appeal to the fast-paced younger generation.
- It provided filters to involve users in the cultural dialogue. Each city features its own logo on all snaps in the area, so every snap near an important event features both a geotagged location and an eye-catching design to draw users’ attention towards sponsors.
These user-friendly changes to Snapchat’s platform, along with the company’s willingness to evolve over time, contribute to Snapchat’s ranking as the third most popular social media network among millennials.
If you want more evidence of Snapchat’s success, just look to the 2016 Republican Debates. According to news source Politico, nearly twice as many young adults watched the condensed version of the debate on Snapchat as watched it on live TV.
Even if you don’t personally enjoy Snapchat’s animated filters and tongue-in-cheek style, the numbers don’t lie: adapting your social media to cater to users makes the difference in your popularity and your company value.
3. Embedded online search will extend to all desktop and mobile applications.
Verdict: Too Daring.
While many sites have begun the process of optimizing for mobile devices, embedded search has not yet reached complete ubiquity. While some product-specific companies or individuals may benefit from optimizing for a particular vertical-specific website, Google’s SEO tips tend to provide the most comprehensive results.
For example, individual authors or small publishing houses recommend keyword optimization to help searchers find their books through Amazon’s search platform. But for companies that offer multiple products and services, tailoring SEO techniques to a search engine outside of Google won’t bring you the magnitude of results you want.
4. Search engines will be selected according to specific objectives.
Verdict: Too Daring.
Online professionals have been talking about specialized search engines practically since the beginning of time—but the fact of the matter is that most users still prefer Google, even for heavily specialized services. Google’s 80% market share hasn’t taken a hit since our last post, and studies show that even the most popular specialized search engines can’t compete or detract from Google’s world dominance.
In fact, most users still go to Google first, even if they want to get to another more specialized search site, like Yelp for restaurant reviews. SEO specialists also point out that Google competitors Yahoo, MSN, and Bing don’t have consistent algorithms, which makes it more difficult for marketers to optimize their content across the board. And why should they? If over 80% of your target audience provides Google, sticking to proven SEO techniques offers you the best results.
5. SEO will change as a skill and as a profession.
Verdict: Remains to Be Seen.
Though we haven’t seen a complete revolution of SEO in the past five months, SEO continues to grow and evolve. Like we’ve mentioned above, social media and sharing platforms influence how we expect our content to get distributed, as well as where we spend our budget developing and managing clients’ sites.
However, our claim that search engine optimizers would no longer be required to do technical work for agencies but could expand into full-blown creative mode was a bit premature. Many technical aspects of SEO, such as analytics analysis and web design, have much room for improvement before businesses (especially small businesses) feel comfortable handling their own online presence.
We can take comfort in the fact that businesses will always need SEO and that the skills learned from the PR, marketing, and SEO industries won’t ever go out of style—or demand.