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If there is anything that has remained true about online marketing over the past decade, it is that online marketing is always changing. Even the most conservative estimates suggest that Google makes around 9 changes to their search engine algorithm every day.

To stay ahead of the curve, businesses can’t just understand where online marketing and SEO is today. They have to be able to look forward to predict the next wave of updates they can expect in the coming months and years.

With that in mind, I wanted to spend some time today talking about some of the biggest trends you can expect to see in 2020 and beyond:

1) Snippets Become The New “Number 1 on Google”

For years, Google has been using Featured Snippets to highlight quick information that may answer your query without ever having to click on a search result. You can see these when you search for recipes, look for lyrics to your favorite songs, or ask questions with relatively simple answers like “How big is the sun?”

Brands have long avoided targeting these snippets which typically appear above all other search results, believing that they reduce the chance of a person clicking onto their website or otherwise converting. However, growing evidence suggests snippets actually drive higher click-through rates and engagement by quickly establishing a single site as the authority.

Over the next year, the competition for these snippets is likely to continue rising, making them the next big fight for search engine results dominance.

2) Mobile Really Comes First

We’ve been talking about this moment for years. We officially use our smartphones and tablets to access the internet more desktop devices.

As such, Google has announced that its ‘Mobile-First Index” would become its primary search index. That means Google is now looking at the mobile version of your site before it ever considers the desktop version when ranking search results.

With this in mind, having a stripped-down mobile version of your site or not having a mobile site is no longer a viable option if you want to succeed online.

Site speed will also continue to be a major ranking factor because of its importance when accessing sites on the go from mobile devices.

3) Visual Search Gets Serious

Visual search has existed as a novelty in online marketing for some time now, slowly improving with each iteration. Now, we are reaching the point where visual search is becoming a major player in search.

While we don’t have statistics from Google Lens or Bing’s Visual Search, Pinterest’s Lens has been a revealing foray into the viability of visual search.

Within a single year of launch, Pinterest Lens was receiving more than 600 million visual search queries every month. This September, the company announced the tool was able to identify over 2.5 billion unique objects within the fashion and home industries.

With this in mind, it is easy to imagine a day in the near future when people regularly find it easier to snap a quick picture than come up with a precise text query when trying to find a specific item online.

4) Voice Search

Speaking of convenience, people are quickly turning to their Alexas, Echos, Siris, and Dots for their casual search needs – whether it is checking the weather or quickly ordering a product.

Out of all the coming changes, this may have the largest effect on how brands optimize their websites and content. This is because voice queries tend to be almost completely different than the types of queries we make when typing into a browser form.

With some estimates suggesting voice search could account for nearly half of all searches by the end of 2020, brands will have to begin optimizing for more conversational “long-tail” search queries and the unique capabilities of voice assistants.

5) Video Rules The Content Landscape

This is another online marketing trend that has been growing for years, but shows absolutely no signs of slowing down in the coming years.

The simple truth is that videos are more engaging than almost any other form of media, providing both audio and visual information in a quickly consumable package. Thanks to faster internet speeds and improved search indexing, they have also been an increasingly effective tool for sharing your content and driving actual engagement.

To give you an idea, some statistics suggest that videos can increase engagement by more than 80% compared to sharing the same information in simple text or audio clips.

Despite this, many brands have still avoided investing in video marketing because they believe it is inherently expensive or ineffective in local markets. Ironically, most users say they often enjoy videos shot using “authentic” methods like shooting selfie-style using a smartphone as much or more than slickly produced commercial videos.

 

Waiting for the “next big thing” to blow up before you jump in is a surefire way to always be a step behind your competition online. You don’t have to invest in every whim or indulgence of the digital marketing landscape, but focusing on these five surefire trends is sure to have you starting 2020 at the head of the pack.

Google is making it easier to find the most important information in YouTube videos for users by including timestamps in search results. 

The feature has been in testing for the better part of a year but has officially been announced this week.

As the company explains:

“Videos aren’t skimmable like text, meaning it can be easy to overlook video content altogether.

Now, just live we’ve worked to make other types of information more easily accessible, we’re developing new ways to understand and organize video content in Search to make it more useful for you.”

The feature is already rolling out, but video publishers will need to take a couple quick and easy steps to ensure the timestamps will appear when their videos show up in search results.

How To Add Timestamps To Your YouTube Videos In Search Results

The good news is there is absolutely no coding or complex technical knowledge needed to provide Google with the information necessary to include relevant timestamps. 

All you have to do is provide a simple list of timestamps and what they relate to within the description section of your videos. For example:

00:05 – Intro

01:30 – Step 1

02:15 – Step 2

03:40 – Step 3

05:00 – Conclusion

Notably, Google is extending this feature to non-YouTube videos as well. However, the process requires a bit more work to properly mark-up. To start the process of adding timestamps to non-YouTube videos, Google asks you to fill out this form. Afterward, they will provide you with the necessary information for marking-up your videos.

A new large-scale international study from Google shows that shoppers are increasingly using online videos to help make purchasing decisions. 

Specifically, the study – which used a mix of surveys and in-person interviews – found that more than half (55%) of consumers regularly use online videos as part of their shopping research. 

As the company says in its article:

“For more and more shoppers, video is becoming indispensable when they’re ready to buy. In fact, more than 55% of shoppers globally say they use online video while actually shopping in-store.”

Google’s Recommended Strategies For Using Video

Within the article about the report, Google also suggests a few ways brands can use videos to influence online shoppers:

Video Shopping List

One of the most surprising findings of the study is that many consumers are replacing traditional shopping lists with a video. 

“If I go to a store and forget what I need, I pull up the video to see the ingredients. I pull to the side, watch the video, and get what I need,” said one person interviewed. 

Getting Informed and Feeling Confident

For more technical fields or issues, such as finances or repairing complicated machines, videos can be an invaluable way to help shoppers feel more confident about their purchases. 

“YouTube has taught me that I’m capable of doing what I didn’t know I could do,” explained one consumer.

Video Reviews Can Be The Tie-Breaker

Video reviews are one of the most trusted forms of online reviews and are a popular reference point when making purchasing decisions. The wide variety of video reviews out there give people the ability to focus on the features they care most about and see which products will perform best for their needs. 

As one shopper told interviewers, “While I was in Home Depot the other day, I was on YouTube looking up drill sets to see which one was better and which one burned out quicker through stress tests.”

What This Means For Brands

It’s no big surprise that online shoppers are increasingly using videos to influence their shopping decisions. What is surprising is when and where they are referencing these videos and how they are actively using the videos within the shopping process. 

The biggest recommendation from the study is that you “think of ways your brand can show up to meet these in-the-moment needs, whether it’s through ads that spark ideas and inspiration or through more in-depth content to answer questions and help people along their path to purchase.”

In a post to the company’s business-focused blog, Twitter revealed this week that Tweets including videos generate 10-times the engagement compared to posts without video.  

Most importantly, the pot highlights the fact that you don’t need a Hollywood-sized budget or cutting-edge cameras and microphone to attract this level of engagement. You just need an average smartphone. 

“Your phone is a fully capable multimedia studio in your pocket, giving you everything you need to create compelling content on the go.”

To help get you started, the company also provided a few ideas to spark your creative side. 

GIF It Up

Using existing GIFs you’ve found around the internet can be a tempting way to connect with your audience and show your pop-culture savviness. Instead, however, Twitter recommends creating your own, original GIFs.

Creating GIFs is also easier to do than most people realize. There are countless apps available for Android devices to help you create GIFs, but iOS users have it even easier. The iPhone’s Photos app includes a built-in GIF mode which can convert any video into a GIF. 

If you need more motivation to start using GIFs more often, Twitter also says tweets with GIFs generate up to 55% more engagement than those without. 

Record Your Screen

Another feature included in most phones is the ability to record your own screen and turn it into content. 

This is especially useful for more technical how-to’s or guides, though you can also find ways to show off your online shopping process, highlight your products, or easily turn a photo slideshow into a video. 

Use Stop Motion

via GIPHY

On the note of image-based slideshows, another type of video content you can easily create with your phone is a short stop motion video. 

If you aren’t familiar with the term, stop motion is the very foundation for all animation. The process simply includes taking a series of photos and playing them quickly enough to show action or movement. 

On your phone, the process is typically as easy as taking a photo, moving your position or the object you are photographing slightly, and taking another photo. Then, repeat. .

You can use these ideas to get started making stop motion videos to share:

  • Move the camera around the object
  • Keep the camera on a tripod and move the object instead
  • Add details to the object like drawings or text
  • Take the object apart to show how the parts fit together

For more tips on creating videos, check out Twitter’s best practices for videos.

Pinterest has launched several new features aimed at making it easier for businesses to share and manage their videos on the platform. 

Businesses now have access to a new video upload tool which simplifies the upload process, a new tab within their profile solely dedicated to videos, and a new analytics tool which gives a long-term view of how your videos are performing. 

On top of all of this, Pinterest has also expanded its Pin Scheduler tool to allow businesses to schedule posting video content in advance. 

The Big Picture

While these new tools signal Pinterest’s devotion to improving its video offerings, it also signals a larger shift for the company. 

Pinterest has typically lagged behind other social networks when it comes to tools or features aimed at businesses. Over the last year, however, the company has paid significantly more attention to these areas by expanding its advertising tools, launching new e-commerce features, and, now, making video content more feasible. 

In the announcement of the new features, CEO and founder of Tastemade, Larry Fitzgibbon echoed this sentiment and expressed just how effective sharing videos on the platform can be:

“As early adopters to video on Pinterest, Tastemade has successfully driven over one billion video views and 200 million engagements year-to-date, while growing our following 100% year-over-year,” said Tastemade CEO and Founder Larry Fitzgibbon, “It’s clear that Pinterest users are hungry for videos that are both entertaining and actionable.”

Pinterest also says that videos on the site outperform videos on other social networks because their platform is more likely to resurface content over time.

Facebook is making big changes to how it ranks and shows videos in the news feed and “More Videos” section of its platform with three new ranking factors for videos. 

While the changes shouldn’t impact the number of videos Facebook is showing overall, the company says it is hoping to better prioritize original videos and content that people are actively looking for.

New Ranking Factors For Facebook Videos

To better sort and rank videos, Facebook is implementing three new ranking factors for videos on its platform:

  • Loyalty and Intent – Facebook will begin boosting the ranking signals of videos that people return to and view repeatedly.
  • Video and viewing duration – Facebook will begin to prioritize videos that keep users engaged for longer periods of times. This will look at both how long a video is (with videos over 3 minutes long receiving the biggest boost) and how long viewers have watched the video on average.
  • Originality – In an effort to cut down on the presence of repurposed or stolen content, Facebook will begin to strongly limit the reach and monetization for unoriginal videos.

In the announcement, the company stressed that while the changes may hurt those copying content or stealing videos, Pages creating original high-quality content should only see positive effects:

“While there are numerous factors that determine video distribution on Facebook, these changes will benefit video distribution for Pages that create original content people want to watch and come back to.”

Instagram has released a set of new features aimed to encourage better engagement and participation with followers, especially when live streaming or creating Stories.

Countdowns

 

Do you have a big event, announcement, or live stream coming up? Now you can highlight it with an interactive countdown sticker in your Instagram Stories.

Once you’ve created the countdown and set the time limit, you can easily insert it in all your stories to remind your audience about important events or promotions. You can also use the stickers to raise awareness of a limited-time offer that is expiring soon.

Followers who see the countdown can also choose to follow it, which will ensure they receive a notification when the countdown is over.

Question Stickers

One of the biggest ways people like to use Instagram’s live videos is to answer viewer questions. The only problem is this can get a bit hard to follow when you have lots of viewers asking questions back to back. It can also be hard for new viewers to know what question is being answered.

Now, viewers can create and share question stickers during live streams to make it easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

The stickers are easily browsable for streamers to pick from. Once chosen, the question will be shown at the bottom of the screen so that viewers know what question you are answering. You can see an example below:

Both of these features are now available for both iOS and Android users. However, broadcasting live videos is only available currently on iOS. Android users can still view the streams and share questions.

Facebook is launching a new feature for all Pages that allows you to publish pre-recorded “live” videos.

That may sound contradiction, but the new “Premieres” feature brings the best of Facebook’s live video and pre-recorded video features into one convenient package.

The biggest benefit of the premiering pre-recorded videos is that you can get the same boost to visibility received by “going live”, being placed in the top of feeds. Facebook will also deliver notifications alerting users to your video debut to those who have enabled them.

Additionally, “Premieres” will be included within the Facebook Watch tab, making it easier for them to be found by more users.

While these videos get all the benefits of live streaming, they are also eligible for a number of Facebook’s tools for pre-recorded videos such as monetization, interacting with your audience through chat, and branding.

How to use Facebook Premieres

Posted by Facebook Media on Friday, September 28, 2018

When created, a premiere will be turned into a post notifying users about your upcoming launch. Then, at the scheduled time, the video will be played “live” until it is completed. Finally, after the Premiere has ended, the post will turn into a typical on-demand video post.

Currently, Facebook Premieres are only able to be uploaded and schedule on desktop computers and must be scheduled at least 10 minutes in advance. The furthest ahead of time they can be scheduled is one week in advance.

It should be noted that Facebook does have some limits on what videos are eligible for the Premieres feature.

The company says content must be entirely original and not available anywhere on Facebook or elsewhere online before the Premiere, though it is not entirely clear how they will ensure this.

Videos must also be at least 30 seconds long and no larger than 10 GB in size.

Facebook is finally allowing all advertisers to run ads during users’ Stories.

The social network has been allowing a limited number of brands across three countries to create ads that appear during Stories published on the site since May, but this is the first time the company has expanded the option to smaller businesses.

Notably, during this time period, the number of people watching Facebook Stories each day has more than doubled from 150 million to over 300 million viewers.

In addition to making the ads available to a wider range of brands, the company has also rolled out a number of new tools and features to better target the ads and improve performance.

As part of these features, Facebook Stories now allow brands to optimize for all objectives available for Instagram Stories ads, including:

  • Reach
  • Brand awareness
  • Video views
  • App installs
  • Conversion
  • Traffic
  • Lead generation

Facebook has also brought all of its targeting and reporting tools for ads to Story ads, allowing brands to better track their performance.

As part of the official announcement of Story ads, Facebook emphasized how popular their Story feature has become and the impact of ads viewed during Stories:

“Advertising in stories has proven to drive valuable business outcomes. In the Ipsos survey, 62% of people said they became more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in a story. And brands testing Facebook Stories ads are already seeing results. iHeartRadio, Kettle Chips and KFC are among the advertisers who have seen brand lift from their Facebook Stories ad campaigns.”

The company also noted some other interesting statistics about Stories, such as:

  • More than half of people surveyed said they’re making more online purchases as a result of seeing stories.
  • 38% of people said that after seeing a product or service in a story they talked to someone about it.
  • 34% said they went to a store to look for a product after seeing it in a story.

Twitter is following Facebook and Instagram’s lead by prioritizing live streams in users’ feeds. The social network announced it would begin bumping live streams to the top of users’ timelines while the streams are active.

This means anytime someone you are following begins streaming, you will be able to see it automatically at the top of your feed.

As Twitter said in the announcement:

“We’re making it easier to find and watch live broadcasts. Now, when accounts you follow go live, the stream will appear right at the top of your timeline.

Catch breaking news, your favorite personalities, and can’t-miss sports moments. Rolling out now on iOS and Android.”

The decision to prioritize live streams in people’s feeds isn’t exactly shocking. While streams can be rewatched after the original event is over, being able to interact with streamers during the video is a big driver of engagement for streams. Once the initial stream is over, engagement with the post typically dwindles significantly.

This is why Facebook and Instagram have similarly prioritized live streams on their platforms by sending notifications to users and highlighting active streams in the primary feed.

Although Twitter has yet to clarify, it seems likely the boost applies to both video live streams and the new audio-only streams rolled out for users last week.