Benjamin Franklin once famously stated:
“In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death, taxes and a December marketing blog featuring predictions of what’s going to be the next biggest thing in the industry next year.”
Well maybe I’ve added a little bit at the end, but it certainly is true.
A marketers job is to stay ahead of the competition, so we read these blogs hoping to get an edge on competitors by discovering brand new or upcoming tools and tactics. But how good are these blogs at predicting the industry and what’s going to work?
I’ve trawled through the old internet to find some predictions from the past that turned out to be just a little bit wrong.
1. MozBlog Predictions for 2011: Mobile Will Have a Negligible Effect on Search/SEO
The MozBlog is obviously a fantastic source of knowledge and inspiration for many digital marketers, and it is where many budding SEOs start their journey with their brilliant Beginner’s Guide to SEO (easily one of the best examples of evergreen content).
However, the following prediction from the man with the most famous moustache in marketing is unfortunately turned out to be rather wide of the mark.
“I’ll boldly predict that not only will mobile usage of search NOT skyrocket in 2011 on the long-awaited J-curve, but that the mobile and normal web browsing experiences will continue to merge toward a single experience, thus negating much of the need for mobile-specific sites and SEO.”
Now, Rand Fishkin was partly correct. 2011 was not the year of the mobile revolution (that was 2015 when mobile searches overtook desktop) and in another blog on the topic, he identified that mobile search was growing faster than traditional search.
But of course, the part on mobile-specific sites and SEO is wrong. We now know that Google are seriously focusing on mobile and mobile experiences which was clearly seen in Mobilegeddon, the introduction of AMP and the recent introduction of the Mobile Index. This is a trend which is surely going keep going into 2017.
Read more about these important aspects of mobile and SEO:
Side Note: Kudos to Rand for actually reviewing and grading his past predictions every year!
2. Entrepreneur – Web Marketing Trends for 2010: Let Blogging Rest
This is certainly an interesting one and arguably contains some half truths. For 2010 this article suggests that people need to give blogging a rest for the following reasons:
“If you’re writing a blog to help with search engine rankings or to inform existing customers, you should continue to test or invest. If you’re blogging in an attempt to attract new prospects and convert them to customers, however, 2010 will be a year that exposes the blogosphere’s vulnerability to the law of averages.”
This statement certainly caused some alarm bells to go off. Saying to only blog for SEO and to disregard attracting new prospects seems to be the opposite of what content marketing hopes to achieve. In fact blogging is a proven method of attracting new customers. This is shown in a 2015 study by Hubspot:
Obviously it’s well known that blogging is an important element of SEO. But content always needs to be made for a user and not a search engine. SEO benefits of blogging should come from creating great optimised content for a relevant target audience with a pre-planned outreach strategy.
The prediction is very slightly redeemed with this following point:
“Instead of blogging to convert your website visitors into customers in 2010, work hard to test and develop great landing page content.”
He’s correct in one sense. Having great landing page content is an absolute must to convert visitors. But it shouldn’t looked at instead of blogging. Blogging is a great tactic to funnel visitors to these pages and attract traffic through long tail keywords, which is sometimes difficult to optimise landing pages for.
Read more about Content Marketing:
3a. Content Marketing Institute – 42+ Social Media and Content Marketing Predictions for 2009: Twitter isn’t for Advertising
For this piece, the Content Marketing Institute gathered the thoughts of 42 digital marketers. There are a number of reasonable and well thought out predictions. Unfortunately the second prediction on the page contains this bold statement:
“Twitter is not an advertising tool.”
Below is a graph that shows the quarterly revenue of Twitter which certainly disproves that theory.
The comment is preceded by this;
“While I’m sure that some people may want to follow their favorite company, I’m seeing many of these feeds as a derivative of spam because they just prattle on about their products and services all day.”
While there is a point to be made about spammy accounts (I’ve talked about spammy social before), it turned out that people do like following company accounts and learning about offers and engaging with branded content.
While Twitter has certainly had it’s struggles, it’s still a great organic and paid advertising tool. Like will other social channels
3b. Content Marketing Institute – 150+ Content Marketing & Social Media Predictions for 2012: Google Plus is going to be huge.
Unfortunately for CMI the number 1 prediction of 2012 was this gem:
“Google+ will become a force in 2012. It seems many of our prognosticators think that the best is yet to come for Google’s social networking site.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve seen a digital marketing prediction be so wrong.
Read More about Social Media Marketing:
So we can’t predict anything?
Of course, the key word to these articles is prediction. I’m not at all trying to shame anyone for putting their neck on the line and making a well reasoned prediction in an industry that changes so frequently. Predictions shouldn’t be taken as gospel (and if there’s any year to learn that, it’s certainly 2016).
In fact, I was surprised to see a number of seriously accurate predictions in a most articles. This 2011 article from Moz predicted one of the biggest changes ever in SEO: The Penguin algorithm.
But looking back at predictions does highlight how quickly our industry has changed. A positive note is also how much it has improved. Just look at this horror show looking at SEO predictions in 2005.
The rate of change in our industry is fast so education is a key factor in keeping up to speed. So always check the date when you’re reading marketing articles. Also read articles from very reliable sites when updating your digital marketing know-how. (Afterall, 2016 is the year of post-truth and fake news).
Have you made or seen any other wayward predictions? Let me know!