Over the past few years at Castleford, we’ve gathered predictions from our team about what the trends will be for the following year, what new innovations will occur and how the content marketing space may change.
We thought we would look back on these predictions to see which ones came to fruition and how accurate they were.
There are four key areas that the correct predictions centred around – mobile friendliness, video content, SEO and social media.
“While this might not be the most exciting prediction I think it is one of the most important. A mobile-friendly website is going to be paramount for SEO and content marketing success in 2015. With my clients, I’ve seen a huge surge in mobile traffic to their sites. Google sees the value of catering for mobile users and is actively labeling websites as “mobile friendly”, which is likely to have a big impact on clickthrough. Not to mention the fact that “mobile friendly” has become an important ranking factor this year.”
– Gill, Senior Content Marketing Strategist, 2015
Optimising sites for mobile has become hugely important over the last couple years. So many people are now using their smartphone for a large portion of their searches, especially while on the go, so if your site isn’t mobile friendly then people will likely return to the search results and pick one of your competitors instead.
The importance of mobile friendliness was emphasised with the rollout of Google’s mobile friendly algorithm update in May 2016. Any sites that did not improve their mobile experience were likely to see a drop in their page rankings. Conversely, sites that were well optimised for mobile devices would be rewarded.
Then in November 2016, Google announced mobile first indexing, which meant that pages would soon be ranked according to their mobile optimised versions. This was another huge push by Google to get any remaining non-optimised sites to improve the user experience for mobile users.
It’s pretty clear nowadays that without considering your mobile users, your site rankings and visitor numbers will suffer a decline.
Do you need help optimising your site for mobile?
Check out our 10 mobile content marketing tips
“I think the use of videos in marketing campaigns is going to continue to ramp up. Sponsored videos are now appearing on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook – included on timelines now without users necessarily having interacted with the brand. Facebook has also just added a counter under videos that tells you how many people have watched them, which is an easy way of tracking the reach of video campaigns.”
– Emma Smith, Senior Content Writer on Travel & Lifestyle, 2015
“I predict that short form video will continue to boom (think stop motion animation and snapchat video), with the ever increasing need for brands to push their message in a matter of seconds rather than minutes, often forcing them to think outside of the box to do so, which simultaneously makes them stand out from the pack.”
– Tom Scott, Senior Business Development Manager, 2016
“The way everything is going, we’re definitely looking at 2017 being the year of short-form video. Vine, Snap Inc. (RIP Snapchat!), Instagram, Facebook – they are all becoming hot battlegrounds for attention, which is pretty exciting for content marketers! 10X content is king for our editorial strategies, but when social media users just want a fun little video to silently watch while nipping to the bathroom, we’re going to need to be producing some awesome, shareable, 30-60-second videos. Probably about cats, because cats are always trendy.”
– Duncan Pacey, Project Manager, 2016
There has definitely been a strong emphasis on video content, whether it be embedded in websites or posted on social media channels. With so much content flooding people’s Newsfeeds and search results, people now have much shorter attention spans and want their information and entertainment to be short, sharp and captivating.
Some of the major social media sites clearly agree because short form video has become a primary focus for them. Snapchat used to be the only platform with short, disappearing videos and images, but now Instagram and Facebook both have features that use the exact same format as Snapchat. While Twitter, Periscope and Facebook have all jumped on board with live video streaming, allowing users to see exactly what’s going on with their favourite brands in the moment.
The last prediction may not be entirely accurate given that Vine was given the axe in October 2016, but to be honest – who saw that coming? It was obvious that Twitter needed to make some changes to stay above water, but I don’t think anyone would have predicted they would shut down the well-loved Vine, particularly because it would force existing users to go elsewhere (for example, YouTube).
Want to know more about video marketing?
Download our 50 tips for video marketing here
“User experience will continue its rise in 2015. All aspects of online marketing will have a huge focus on user experience, as Google leads the way by rewarding websites that users find the most useful. I think the top performers will have high quality content which is clear and concise, visually appealing, easy to navigate, and best answers the user’s question.”
– Trent Paul, Head of Strategy, 2015
“With the continued rise of first-time searches in 2015, thanks to mobile search and voice assistants like siri, I believe search engines (particularly Google) will invest even more into developing artificial intelligence (AI) to process search queries. In October last year, it emerged that Google’s RankBrain was using AI to process 15% of unique searches daily.
With machine learning techniques designed to map speech patterns and the nuances of different languages and dialogue, this fairly new technology will provide users with more accurate results for unique searches. What does this mean for content marketing? This coupled with the Hummingbird Algorithm, I predict we’ll see an even greater decline than we have in the past 2 years in measuring keyword rankings for ROI. Content will cater to context and questions as opposed to key phrases and terms.”
– Shannon Maloney, Deputy Head of Strategy, 2016
With the rise of 10x content, there has been a noticeable shift from old SEO tactics like focussing heavily on keywords and phrases to instead focus on creating better quality articles that actually answer the audience’s question. The emergence of what appears to be Google’s most recent algorithm, unofficially named ‘Fred’, seems to support this direction by specifically targeting poor quality sites with low value content, according to Google Webmaster John Mueller.
It’s clear that the emphasis on best SEO practices these days is on creating the best user experience for actual humans, as opposed to creating content that will satisfy computer algorithms.
Google has also focused a lot more on developing artificial intelligence products. In May 2016 Google announced its artificial intelligence platform known as ‘Google Assistant’, which would initially be implemented across two new products: Google Home and Google Allo. The Assistant communicates with the user much like Apple’s Siri, searching the web for information and pulling data from your linked apps.
Through Google Home, the Assistant can control other items around the home like TVs and lighting. The user can also use voice activation to ask Google Home for information about their schedule, emails or general web search queries. More recently, users can now perform their online shopping through Google Home. In Google Allo, the Assistant helps users to easily communicate information in text conversations, by suggesting responses, searching addresses or pulling information about chosen topics.
“The main focus for content marketing this year will be around content amplification. With so much great content out there we’re getting to the point of content saturation. Therefore, it will be very important to be extra clever in finding ways of getting the information in front of the right people through the right channels (whether it’s through social, paid promotion, through influencers etc).”
– Hamid Mashali, Head of Field Sales, 2016
Facebook’s algorithm changes in 2016 made it extremely difficult for brands to reach their audiences by restricting the reach of organic posts. Without a huge social following or a high number of shares of posts, it became near impossible that your audience would even see your posts, let alone click through to your site. Now, businesses on Facebook have little option but to go with paid promotion if they are to have any chance of getting their content seen, or growing their audience.
An alternative route that some brands have decided to go down is influencer marketing. This avenue has always been popular, but has become a far more common method of reaching audiences and positioning brand values. If you pick an influencer that your followers are interested in and have them promote your product, the chances of driving traffic to your site (and ultimately, gaining more conversions) are highly increased. It’s not just huge celebrities that are the focus of this tactic, however, but Facebook and Instagram users that have a comparatively modest amount of followers but are more likely to be reachable and willing to promote your product or service.
“I believe that 2017 will be the year of Pinterest. For one, there has been lots of chatter that they are gearing up to go public. There’s certainly some validity to that claim, as in the last month alone they have acquired Instapaper and have hired a new Head of Engineering, who specialises in AI and image search, for their new Seattle location. Another notable addition in the last 18 months was the introduction of Buyable Pins. This had a sizable impact on the Christmas shopping season of 2015, with the implications for 2016’s holiday season yet to be seen.
More and more brands are realising that Pinterest is no longer just about sharing cute home decor ideas or recipes. Now you’ll find every company from high-end home theatre speaker system makers to DIY alternative energy companies sharing pins, creating boards and interacting with their target audiences. I expect to see even more companies joining and using Pinterest for sales, marketing and overall brand awareness.”
– Stefanie Roberts, Content Marketing Manager, 2016
Within the last six months or so, Pinterest has definitely had some impressive growth. Not just on the user front, but also in the technology it has and the expansion of its platform.
The site is definitely no longer just for DIY ideas and recipes, but rather a serious option for brands to reach their audience and push conversions.
In September last year, Pinterest announced the development of camera search technology that would totally elevate the functionality of the site. Officially rolled out in February this year, the technology allows users to take a photo of something with their camera phone and drop the image into Pinterest so that it can be matched with similar products listed on the site.
The company also introduced a function that lists related items to a pin, as well as the ability to label other products within a single post, so that users can click on other items they like and be directed to that product. Paid promotion became an option in February this year as well with the rollout of paid search ads.
Brands now have a much better chance of driving traffic and winning consumers through the site, rather than just showcasing products and services.