Gabriel Shaoolian is a digital trends expert and the founder and CEO of digital agency Blue Fountain Media in New York
This year has been a fantastic year for digital marketing, but all good things must come to an end, and that is unfortunately the case for 2014. From guest posting and non-responsive websites to onsite speed optimizations and content marketing, the beginning of the New Year marks the death of some old digital marketing tactics and the birth of a few new ones. Here are just a few marketing tactics that should end with 2014 and a couple of new ones that will play a big role in the year to come.
No more widespread guest posting
No more gardening guest posts on a website that is about technology or marketing! When Google cracked down on many guest-posting websites and services during 2014, many heralded it as the end of guest posting as a whole. This hasn’t quite turned out to be true, but guest posting has definitely changed fundamentally and will look very different in 2015 than it did this year. The main changes come in the quality and placement of a guest post. While a well-written, thorough post on a highly relevant and authoritative site remains a great way to build brand recognition, writing tons of guest posts for any blog or website that is accepting them is now an extremely risky proposition.
Responsive should become standard
For much of 2014, people discussed the importance of building an online presence that is optimized for mobile devices and how flash websites are well and truly dead as a result. However, many businesses still think of responsive or adaptive websites as an added curiosity instead of as an absolute necessity. As the number of users on mobile devices continues to grow in 2015, what constitutes the bare minimum for a website design is going to change. Many businesses are going to be making the switch to mobile-friendly responsive websites in the coming year to try to capture mobile traffic, and new online businesses simply can’t afford to invest in desktop-only solutions. Look for most new websites to be created with responsive solutions in 2015.
The need for speed
As mobile continues to capture larger audiences, the importance of site speed has never been greater. Search engine algorithms already measure speed relatively thoroughly, particularly when it comes to a user’s experience on a mobile device, but look for more websites to take speed seriously in the coming year. Image optimization in particular is a relatively straightforward (although sometimes time-consuming) process that can help increase a site’s speed. We’d like to see more online brands make the time investment in 2015.
No more images in search engine results
At the beginning of 2014, any serious blog had to take Google Authorship seriously. Not only was it a great way to tell Google which authors were authoritative in their fields and wrote relatively frequently, the Google search engine results page was able to pull a picture of the author associated with a post – dramatically increasing click-through rate. Despite the fact that many blogs did take the time to set up authorship, most blogs overlooked this feature, and as a result, it came as no surprise when Google removed authorship from its SERP in the summer of this year. However, with death comes new life – in this case in the form of schema markup. While it isn’t particularly new, schema provides an alternative for many websites when it comes to adding extra image or text assets to existing search engine results. Studies have also found that websites with schema markup tend to rank higher in results pages. Look for more websites to add it in 2015.
Content marketing should take serious hold
Content marketing has defined many discussions about how best to market online throughout 2014, but it still hasn’t firmly taken hold for a lot of online businesses. Whether it is because they don’t have any sort of content onsite or that the content they do have does nothing but try to sell their products instead of actually provide educational or entertainment value to users, many brands still have a long way to go before they can seriously consider their content-marketing efforts up to par. As such, 2015 should to continue to be all about content marketing. Even more importantly, it should be a year when businesses stop just mass producing mediocre content and really start competing with another to produce more high-quality content.
2015 can be a year of doing
While many businesses really took concepts like responsive design and content marketing to heart, too many businesses simply took note of what best practices should be and then actually did very little to adhere to them. There was a lot of time spent on internal teams forming strategies for how a brand could effectively move forward on things like speed optimization, responsive design, and content marketing, and 2015 should see many online businesses putting these plans into place. While there may not be many brand-new trends that define 2015, look for many businesses to finally take best practice advice to heart in the new year.