First, we start by grading our 2016 predictions to ascertain our accuracy and establish if we have what it takes to give it another shot in 2017. Since we were more aggressive last year than in the preceding years, this year we will come very close. Check out how we, Traffic Radius, performed before looking at our SEO predictions for the next one year.
As usual, our predictions well be graded as follows;
Accurate (+2): A prediction is correct money wise, and the principle criteria are fulfilled
Partially Accurate (+1): Predictions within the area, yet slightly different from the reality
Not Entirely Wrong (-1): Predictions close to the truth but far off to be regarded “correct” in any actual sense.
Way Off (-2): Blind Guesses that fall way too far.
Should we fall anywhere above average, trust us to predict, accurately, what’ll come in the next 12 months. If not, it will be a humiliation which you can depict through funny tweets.
Grading Traffic Radius’s 2016 Predictions
- Data will show Google Organic outcomes to have less that 70 percent CTR
(+2) We got this accurately despite having been among out rather conservative projects. Results from our clickstream data collected in the summer, about 40 percent of the search engine searches fail to gather clicks effectively. Fine, some of them are possibly Google autocompleting questions before the searcher finishes typing. However, with the 70 percent threshold, we, definitely, have ample space to spare.
- Mobile will hardly reduce desktop’s usage, and its rate of growth will decrease in developed countries
(+1): This score is somewhat conservative since while the search engine’s mobile growth has had a plateauing effect (according to SimilarWeb) on desktop search results in America, finding data on the rate of increase of mobile/desktop usage in first-world countries has not been possible.
Incidentally, it is possible SimilarWeb’s findings on Google usage is inaccurate, although they have adequate sample set and as such the shift from desktop to mobile is probably statistically substantial implying the trend could be accurate.
- Twitter will work out ways to grow again
(-1): While Twitter mainly grew monthly active users (from 305-317 mm) in 2017 in comparison to the previous year (from 302-305mm), the difference was huge. It is highly unlikely Twitter has meaningfully worked out ways to grow.
- Social Content engines will gain momentum
(-1): This’s a difficult one. SimilarWeb reveals Pocket down in the overall app rankings yet up as a source of reference as well as on the mobile and desktop web with several engaged users on the medium. Meanwhile, Nuzzel grew about 30 percent on the internet. Instapaper and Feedly appear to be faring well, though not exceptionally. In our opinion, while these apps could be an influential force, their success entering into the mainstream seems limited, as yet.
- Yext will IPO, stimulating, even more, attention in local listings
(-2): It’s shocking we missed this one. Yext possibly remains a likely IPO candidate, this year, but let’s give them credit for staying private longer and readying themselves for what might end up being a great public offering.
- The end of normal distribution will have an enormous impact on publishing and search results
(+2): Tragically we realized increased consolidation, the loss of more networks and news sources, as well as the continued control of Google’s search outcomes by the minority over the majority.
- The growth of adblocking will ignite attempts to legislate and provoke more websites to limit adblocking users
(-1): Scoring one out of a possible two is not that bad. However, since our prediction was on legislation, a rating on (-2) is reasonable. Indeed, more sites shifted to subscriptions and treated adblocking users more aggressively. Evidence emerged that adblocking appeared to have leveled itself off in 2016, contrary to what many anticipated. Possibly, savvy users who didn’t want ads have done all they could and the few remaining do not mind ads that much.
- DuckDuckGo search engine is going to grow at the fastest rate search engine in 2016
(+2): Our prediction on this one was accurate. DuckDuckGo went from 8,606,321 searches daily on the second day of January 2016 to 11,183,864 daily exactly one year down the line; a 30 percent growth in one year.
- Emergence of content Marketing software designed for the non-enterprise
(+1): Today, SMBs content marketing software is hotter than the search Engine Optimization has ever been. There are more than fifty content marketing software firms with VC backing offering SMB services. The very many companies (plus several unfunded companies) possibly combine to serve several clients, probably more than solely SMB-focused SEO software firms ever have.
- The “Big” 2016 trends; Wearables, Smart Home, Internet of Things and VR will hardly have any impact on web marketing.
(-1): Voice Search apps circumventing the web (and, hence, internet marketing) are on the brink of making an impact on search, and, hopefully soon, on other channels too.
OVERALL 206 SCORE: (+2)
Now let’s see what’s to expect in the next 12 months
Traffic Radius’ Eight Predictions for 2017
- Voice Search will exceed 25 percent of all America Google searches within one year. Despite this increase, expect desktop volume to remain almost flat and mobile (specifically non-voice) to continue to grow.
You shouldn’t expect voice search to cannibalize mobile or desktop searches, except to add to it. Currently, about 20-25 percent of mobile searches are voice, but ironically, Google reported in May 2016 that the number was 20 percent yet in September 2010, it had put the figure at 20 percent. Either voice has remained relatively flat, or the initial number was incorrect.
KPCB’s 2016 Trends report shows that the rise in voice search is relatively higher, using inferred Google Trends info (experts in SEO know such is a risky, messy assumption.) Clickstream data sampling, as well as sources designed to track referrals (such as SimilarWeb), provide better ways of measuring effects of cannibalization, and we hope Google (or third-party data sources) will provide a report on the relative growth of voice searches to authenticate this.
In our expert opinion, voice search presents the first real high-risk technological advancement ever experienced by the SEO domain. Should it cannibalize a significant percentage of search activity, the pot that has been growing for the last 20 years may suddenly shrink.
- Expect Google to remain the leading referrer of site traffic by more than 5X. Facebook, or any other source, will not make a dent.
Google will continue dominating, regardless of the prognostications concerning Facebook, Snapchat, Amazon or anyone else who’s trying to play a role in traffic generation.
- The Marketing Technology is set to realize increased consolidation (reduced exits and acquisitions, compared to the previous years)
Scott Brinker has tracked the growth and variations in the marketing software scenery over the last couple of years, and there have been tons of new entrants.
However, SEO has remained a minor player in the software space. Most of the tools and companies are private, have an income of less than 1mm and unfunded. A smaller number of larger actors exists, although in every other category of tech marketing, there is a minimum of one player with 2-10X the magnitude of our total market combined.
In 2017, expect little IPO or acquisitions activity from smartech actors. There is, however, a likelihood one of the main SEO software players will exit. An IPO would then make the field hugely more attractive not only to analysts but also to investors and entrepreneurs. A massive departure could initiate widespread consolidation.
- Google will provide paid search adverts to be featured in snippets, carousels and knowledge graph
Last year, Google placed shopping adverts in image search, introduced adverts in local packs, and raised the number of first ads in AdWords to four. In spite of this, paid CTRs have remained relatively flat.
Merkle/RKG data is impressively transparent but biased by site users using the agency. Directionally, it is usually solid, and we trust it will hardly go way off. Their data match nicely to our own analyses, revealing that 1.5-2.5 percent of all searches result from clicking on a paid advert.
- Amazon search will record at least 4 percent of Google’s website search volume before the end of the year.
Clickstream data revealed that Amazon is possibly about 2 percent of Google’s total search volume. A logical assumption here is Google’s 4 percent pertain to products, and consequently, Amazon is neck-and-neck. While Google is probably still winning here, we are foreseeing Amazon growing its search penetration and volume, partially due to Alex/Echo, and partially due to their intimidating Prime Strategy, to 4 percent or even more of Google.
- Twitter will remain autonomous, besides remaining the most popular and valuable platform for influencers and publishers.
Twitter’s share price has sunk. Their growth has lately been lukewarm. Abuse and Trolls plagued the network, and most of its leaders are locked-in, culturally, to focus on “free speech” instead of enhancing the platform for marginalized and abused groups. Buzzfeed’s report on the trends shows a profound cultural rift that still appears to be damaging the platform.
Despite all the above, we anticipate Twitter remaining to be the preferred way for influencers and publishers, to share, converse and connect. Its open systems, coupled with its significant media presence accords it an insurmountable lead in the sector. Besides, no other player seems to be attempting to overtake it.
Our other prediction that Twitter will remain independent is an unpopular one. Even after Twitter puts itself up for sale, the bidders have shown reduced enthusiasm (Probably, the premium quoted is way too far). This year (2017), Expect to see a sovereign Twitter, growing income, and users slower than you’d expect, yet retaining its influencer and cultural status
- The top ten mobile applications will remain almost flat in 2017, without any entrant and at most four position changes.
Mobile applications have been a concern for many large brands, app creators, and marketers. Despite apps dominating time expended on mobile, save from phones, the money cashed in and the precious time spent flows almost entirely to the top very few apps.
Nielsen revealed that Amazon entered into the top ten last year but other than that, it’s been relatively silent in the positions shakeups at the upper part of the application curve. Even more surprising is the fact Facebook and Google possess a total of 8 out of the top 10 apps, and their apps realize more than 90 percent of application activity.
The market is more of a winner-take-all setup and one with an amazingly short tail on its demand curve. We predict virtually no change in the next 12 months. These few apps will dominate the rest. As for SEO’s, applications will continue providing some additional ranking opportunities, mainly in mobile using Android, although the “App Takeover” of mobile search and SERPs never appeared.
- In 2017, Google will publicly admit using engagement info as an input to its ranking system, and not merely for training/learning
In 2016, Google backtracked slightly on the problem of search/click/visit/pogostick information, most strikingly through Haahr’s slide deck dubbed How Google Works: A ranking Engineers Perspective.
Henceforth, there’ve been fewer denials of the fact unlike previously, although some Google users have publicly (and on Twitter) maintained that query, and click info cannot influence rankings (highly improbable). Google deserves some praise for their excellent work, which evidently, is largely less misleading and open to concerns over how their system works. Hopefully, this extends into the territory engagement data since it is bound to have a positive and real impact on the number of brands, publishers and content creators on the web perceive what they create. The narrative remains (links plus keywords) and the hint low-engagements content (as well as sites), will, with time, underperform whether they get these right or not, would be a strong nudge in the right direction.