My 10 Predictions for Digital Marketing in 2017

Bruce Clay's 2017 digital marketing predictions

It was hard to miss the “good riddance to 2016” trumpet blasts just two weeks ago.

So 2017 starts off in a pretty good position with small shoes to fill.

However, the expectations we as individuals have for our own achievements have not waned. Redo everything and improve it all. “Nothing is sacred” has been my mantra lately. Up takes effort.

For you, let 2017 be the year you say you got better every day. The year you surrounded yourself with smart people. The year you got a hold of better data. The year you made more informed decisions.

In that spirit, I perform my annual exercise of crystal ball gazing, offering predictions for the search marketing and affiliated digital marketing spaces for the year to come.

Why have I done this every year for the last 12 years?

A few reasons:

  1. Everything we do is done in service of this primary goal: Get more traffic to websites.
  2. To get more web traffic, we have to know what works and what will change — and the sooner the better.
  3. With a digital marketing road map clearly drawn, we can gain a competitive edge by innovating strategies around upcoming opportunities.

So the predictions below are the starting point for a conversation about how search marketing is evolving to be smarter over the next few months.

Give them a read and let me know what you think.

My Predictions

1. The SEO world will be shocked to see that organic listings will shrink as PPC and Local Paid Inclusion takes hold. Google will become a pay-to-play space with only the top few organic rankings getting continual search traffic, usually for information-centric sites.

2. Mobile will significantly dominate the traffic on the web. In the early part of the year, desktop search will fall as a percentage of total queries. Later in 2017, desktop search will gain search traffic share as an information portal as mobile search tests a totally paid model.

3. Voice search will exceed half of all searches, and find increasingly common use for desktop search. This will totally flip the concept of keywords as people speak what they want instead of typing it.

4. AMP is here and will likely remain, but it will not be a very successful project. There are several other and more attractive solutions that will gain a foothold … Your website as an app? Yes, definitely.

5. PPC will grow exponentially. When the entire first screen is paid ads you become a believer. We advise ourselves and clients that they need to follow the money … How does Google make money? Certainly not from organic listings.

6. Instagram stores and affiliate programs take hold. The online fashion industry is many billions of dollars, and visuals rule. Look for massive growth in the area of Instagram shopping.

7. Ads on social media continue to grow, not without challenges. Social is rejected by users as an inappropriate channel for ads. While highly targeted social ads are great for the success of advertisers, users will have the final say.

8. We will see new forms of behavior around virtual social rooms. Social media users and platforms innovate new means of social engagement instead of meeting people in person. Virtual reality (VR) chat rooms become a new social experience.

9. Content is going to be a significant SEO focus, driving most projects throughout the year. This is an easy prediction to make. The key is that the quality of the content will be judged by RankBrain, and so content for content’s sake will not prevail.

10. New tools will help content marketers produce targeted, high-quality content at the time of publishing. Content writers demand more data and become more technically bold as easy-to-use tools provide traffic and competitor SEO stats, ushering in a new generation of targeted high-quality content.

What’s Next? Serving Up Strategy

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How should these changes affect your digital strategy this year? That’s where my 2017 resolution kicks in.

I’ve committed to blogging every week, and you can bet these predictions will be a catalyst for many posts to come.

Follow along with me by signing up for free email updates for the blog.

It’s always an honor to answer your toughest digital marketing and SEO questions. Let me know of any topics you’d like me to cover here.

Fun fact: 2012 was the one time I took a formal poll to rate how I did on my predictions one year out. I scored a 58%.

As for these predictions, how do you think I did? Let me know in the comments.

About the Author

Bruce Clay is founder and president of Bruce Clay, Inc., a global digital marketing optimization firm providing search engine optimization, pay per click, social media marketing, conversion rate optimization, SEO-friendly web architecture, and SEO tools and education. Connect with Bruce on Google+.

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