14th January 2015
The times, they are a-changin’ in the world of online marketing. The atoms’ combined predictions for 2015 feature a marked emphasis on local and mobile, which we see as being the major drivers of change this year.
#1: Local search will explode this year
Back in the summer of 2014, Google released Pigeon, an algorithm update aimed at improving local search by giving preference to local businesses in search results. Three days before Christmas, Google announced they were rolling out Pigeon in the UK. The Pigeon update is likely to have a big impact on the SERPS in 2015, making it even more important that businesses work hard to ensure they’re ranking in the local ‘pack’.
#2: Web design will become cleaner & simpler
Cleaner website layouts will focus a lot more on user experience, rather than on making websites appear impressive. Mobile devices are becoming far more important in web design with the emergence of the ‘Mobile First’ method of designing. Web designers in 2015 will have to consider what the most important aspect of their website is, design to optimise that aspect and get rid of all the fluff. This will ensure that their site translates seamlessly onto all devices, offering the best user experience possible.
#3: Brands will abandon ‘best practice’ in PPC
Best practice, particularly ensuring that targeted keywords match ad text, can and does still work. However, more and more advertisers will find that it’s hard to stand out from the crowd like this. Testing more ‘risky’ ad copy to help stand out from competitors could be the key to earning a better CTR in 2015. An ad for one of our clients used the phrase ‘Don’t click’ in the headline, followed by a qualifier ‘until…’ in the description line. This drew the user into reading the ad and worked well.
#4: Organic search listings will become more volatile
Google is moving towards more frequent, or ‘rolling’, updates of most parts of its algorithm. This is leading to a more regular reshuffling of the organic listings as Google aims to provide increasingly relevant SERPs. An easy way to visualise this shift is by looking at the algorithm update history in Algoroo. This tool allows you to scroll back through the years and see the SERP volatility, which clearly shows an increase in activity that has gained momentum in recent years.
#5: Optimising ads for mobile will become vital
Every year, mobile usage continues to grow, yet in many cases desktop is still seen as the default for writing and optimising PPC ads. Considering how ads will appear on mobile, and adapting them by using shorter descriptions, fewer top ad spots and different extensions, as well as optimising for the differing intent on mobile devices, will be key to earning clicks in 2015.
#6: Video will be BIG
Video grew in 2014, being embraced wholeheartedly by a range of new platforms including Facebook. In August 2014, Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of video views it received. In 2015, we’ll see video being further adapted and used in many more forms by online marketers.
#7: Businesses will seek reviews to rise to the top of local
Authentic reviews (at least 5 required) will help small businesses rise to the top of the local search results. Although this won’t be a major ranking factor, it’s predicted that it will have a strong bearing on CTR.
#8: Organic social reach is going to become near impossible
Brands are increasingly under pressure to have a strong presence in social. However, Facebook is putting more of an emphasis on sneaking paid advertising into people’s newsfeeds. The channel has already implemented an algorithm to reduce the presence of organic posts. Paid ads will therefore increasingly show over organic posts in people’s feeds. Meanwhile, Twitter will start to replicate the changes in Facebook, giving preference to paid Tweets over organic Tweets. Businesses will therefore need to be spending more on social ads to reach new customers.
#9: The growth in mobile will increase brands’ focus on local
Big brands are going to have to get better at local SEO, because of the impact it will have on their mobile strategy. So much of mobile use is about finding a restaurant NOW – you’re out and about and you have your smartphone with you. In fact, about 40% of searches on mobile are localised. The rise in mobile usage will therefore correlate with a rise in the value of local SEO.
#10: ‘Negative SEO’ will continue to be a point of contention
Negative SEO has become an increasingly heated topic among the SEO community of late, especially since the introduction and development of the Penguin algorithm. The majority of articles surrounding this topic have focused largely on the dilution of competitor link profiles with poor quality links. However, case studies such as this one show that negative SEO without backlink manipulation could also be possible. We therefore see the concept and diversification of tactics regarding negative SEO continuing to be an issue amongst SEOs in 2015.
#11: Cross device targeting will grow
Cross device targeting enables marketers to serve targeted advertising to users across a mixture of devices. Still in its early days, cross device targeting is going to grow, and being able to track users on different devices will become more and more important.
#12: Google Now will start pushing ads to your phone
Google Now is an app which comes up with predictions such as, if you have a flight coming, whether it’s delayed or cancelled. The app does not currently carry ads, however, we believe it will start showing ads based on the predictions it provides. For example, with the catching a flight scenario, it might start to show if there’s a taxi company you can use to get you to your flight on time.
#13: Marketers will waste time targeting smart watches
The industry will go nuts when Apple releases its iWatch. However, the technology isn’t there yet and the screens will be too small to effectively display ads. Furthermore, only early adopter techies will buy into these gadgets upon release, so they won’t be mass market enough to justify any serious marketing spend.