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The Digital Marketing Crystal Ball – 7 Predictions for 2016!

This post was originally posted on State of Digital.

As always in the digital marketing industry, 2015 has been another year of change. With new tools, algorithm updates, customer behaviour changes and the shift to a more user focused approach, we are constantly evolving and innovating to stay on the cutting edge.

As 2015 draws to a close, I asked some of the State of Digital bloggers What big changes do you expect in the digital marketing industry in 2016? See what they think will change in 2016 below:


Google to monetise more free features

When Google made Shopping a paid offering from free a lot of businesses and advertisers were up in arms about the whole thing but looking at the product now, I think it was a smart move from Google. Obviously they are making a huge amount from this channel but advertisers are also really capitalising now.

So this makes me wonder what else Google may look to monetise moving forwards and one of the more obvious features would be Google Maps. Local businesses heavily rely on their map listings and if it were a paid option (in addition to a free) there could be a lot more Google could offer businesses to enhance their listings.

This would be one of my predictions for 2016.
Sam Noble – Koozai – @SamJaneNoble


Google to focus more on the user, whilst an increase competition in online payment methods

  1. In terms of the Google Algorithm and all things SEO, I think we’ll see the user focus trend continue. With the debate around if Panda was more focused on quality issues than just duplicate content, and the additional Doorway Pages statements made by Google, it is clear that quality for the user is still a focus. Google is becoming more human in how it interacts with individuals on their devices which is reflective of the types of results it’s wanting to display too. Our strategies need to attempt to be future-proof, so that means stop being solely a numbers game of search volumes and competition, and ensure they focus on the user.
  1. There really hasn’t been as much attention around online payments as I would have expected this year. It’s one of the areas of digital that has had some of the biggest changes – the launch of Apple Pay, split of eBay and Paypal and Google’s announcement it would be focusing on the development of Google Wallet. With the chance of these large companies purchasing PayPal, and its beacon technology, or PayPal.Me’s initial successes growing further, we could see a complete shift in how the majority of payments are made. The impact on digital marketing? We’ll see the importance of second-screen advertising increase again, and the opportunity to greatly increase conversions as payment simplifies.

Hannah Thorpe
Hannah Thorpe – – @hannahjthorpe


Businesses will get better at understanding their audience

2016 will be the year of the mobile!

No, just joking, we are long past that. Mobile is now commodity and every business should have this optimised. The thing about mobile that in 2016 hopefully will take more shape is the realisation that ‘mobile’ isn’t just the device, its ‘where people are’, regardless of which device they are on.

Another big change I think will be in the content marketing area. I think more businesses will start to create their own, or buy, publishing platforms. A trend in which some will get it right and others will just create more content that ‘pollutes’ the web.

Finally I think in 2016 businesses will realise more what they can do with the data gathered in the past few years and that they will get a better understanding of the audience they are targeting.

I hope 😉

Bas van den Beld – @basvandenbeld


Backlash against ad blockers

There will be a backlash against ad blockers, with some websites blocking visitors that have ad blockers enabled. The deeper root causes that make ad blocking so popular will be left almost entirely unacknowledged, with publishers and advertisers instead preferring to use crude measures to protect their ad revenue rather than face up to the fact that they’ve been behaving like total pricks for years.

Barry Adams – Polemic Digital – @badams


Mobile web Vs Mobile Apps – Consumers moving to a search-centric web

Building on from Jonathan’s excellent post I think it’ll be very interesting to see how things develop for the mobile web versus mobile apps, and what this means for SEO as consumers move away from the search-centric web.

In October 2015, mobile browser-based searches via Google overtook the number of desktop searches, but a recent study found that only 10% of mobile usage are browser-based, with the remaining 90% in-app. That’s a lot of keyword data lost, but also a lot of revenue Google is losing via PPC.

Google’s already shifting position in response to these changes. They’ve been indexing app content for over 2 years now and have indexed over 100 billion pages from native apps as of October 2015. With more and more app content featuring in mobile searches, we may see industry standardisation in the way that deep links are interpreted, built and discovered.

But, more excitingly, on the 18th November,Google announced that you’ll be able to find and stream app content in their search results. This test is starting with nine selected Android apps in US English search results. If the results are good, they may well expand to more apps and markets (maybe even iOS). This interesting development will likely mean that App Store Optimisation (ASO) becomes a higher priority in 2016.

Briony Gunson - SEO Account Manager 2
Briony Gunson – @brionygunson

Google to pay more attention to rich snippets

My prediction feels a bit like cheating, as I’m ‘borrowing’ what one of the Google analysts (Gary Illyes, a.k.a. @methode) hinted at during a conference recently, which was that Google would be paying more attention to rich snippets / structured data in 2016. I’d welcome this, as I was a massive fan of rel=”author” (R.I.P.) and I’m a fan of anything beyond the bog-standard ‘page title / URL / meta description’ setup – especially if it’s something that webmasters can utilise in order to improve their click-through rate and therefore gain a competitive advantage.

In my experience, rich snippets seem to be especially prominent in a small number of sectors, and largely non-existant in the rest, so it’d be great if they were opened up across the board and therefore usable by more websites in more sectors.

Steve Morgan – @steviephil

On-demand economy will have huge implications for businesses

I think that the on-demand economy will have huge implications for businesses this year. A company is popping up to take care of many tasks which could have in the past lead to direct contact between a consumer and a business. Now, customers would rather deal with intermediaries to do the choosing for them. Coupled with this lack of traditional exposure, businesses are dealing with mobile users who want results fast, so must ensure that everything they create is easily-digestible and impactful, so that they can achieve results in what Google call the “micro-moments”.

Jack telford
Jack Telford – The Media Flow – @JackTelford

There you have it, seven predictions for 2016 from the State of Digital bloggers. Do you agree with the predictions made above? What do you think is going to happen in 2016? I’d love to hear your comments either in the comments below or over on twitter @danielbianchini.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!!

Image Credit – Christian Schnettelker Flickr

Blog General

5 Must Read Books for Leadership & Productivity

With more of my focus being placed on management of teams, I placed a lot of emphassis on improving my leadership skills throughout 2015. During this time I read a lot of different books that provided different approaches and techniques to help.

During my research into the books that I should be reading, I found very little in terms of reviews or recommendations from any of my peers within the digital marketing space. So, now we come to the end of the year, I thought I’d share with you the five books I found most useful for leadership & productivity.

The Hard Things About Hard Things


In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz, cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz and one of Silicon Valley’s most respected and experienced entrepreneurs, draws on his own story of founding, running, selling, buying, managing, and investing in technology companies to offer essential advice and practical wisdom for navigating the toughest problems business schools don’t cover. His blog has garnered a devoted following of millions of readers who have come to rely on him to help them run their businesses. A lifelong rap fan, Horowitz amplifies business lessons with lyrics from his favorite songs and tells it straight about everything from firing friends to poaching competitors, from cultivating and sustaining a CEO mentality to knowing the right time to cash in.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things

Getting Things Done


Since it was first published in David Allen’s Getting Things Done has become one of the most influential business titles of its era, and the book on personal organisation. ‘GTD’ has become shorthand for an entire way of approaching the professional and personal tasks everyone faces in life, and has spawned an entire culture of websites, organisational tools, seminars, and offshoots.

For this revised and updated edition, David Allen has rewritten the book from start to finish, tweaking his classic text with new tools and technologies, and adding material that will make the book evergreen for the coming decades. Also new is a glossary of GTD terms; The GTD Path of Mastership – a description of what Allen has learned and is now teaching regarding the lifelong craft of integrating these practices, to the end-game of the capability of dealing with anything in life, by getting control and focus; and a section on the cognitive science research that validates GTD principles.

The new edition of Getting Things Done will be welcomed not only by the hundreds of thousands of existing fans but will be embraced by an entire new generation eager to adopt its proven principles.

Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity

Leardership Plain and Simple


Leadership isn’t complicated – keep it simple and make it count. This new edition of Steve Radcliffe’s uniquely powerful, successful and practical framework will show you how to develop faster as a more confident and capable leader.

This compact, instantly-applicable guide to developing leadership skills contains practical insights, straightforward actions and plain guidelines to accelerate your growth as a leader.

The framework is derived from expert coach Steve Radcliffe’s work with real leaders in real leadership situations.

Leadership:Plain and Simple: Plain and Simple (2nd Edition) (Financial Times Series)

Only the Paranoid Survive


The President and CEO of Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, reveals how to identify and exploit the key moments of change in any industry that generates either drastic failure or incredible success. Under Andrew Grove’s leadership, Intel has become the world’s largest computer chipmaker, the 5th most admired company in America, and the 7th most profitable company among the Fortune 500. Few CEOs can claim this level of success. Grove attributes much of it to the philosophy and strategy he has learned the hard way as he steered Intel through a series of potential major disasters. There are moments in any business when massive change occurs, when all the rules of business shift fast, furiously and forever. Grove calls such moments strategic inflection points (SIPs), and he has lived through several. They can be set off by almost anything – by mega competition, an arcane change in regulations, or by a seemingly modest change in technology. They are not always easy to spot – but you can’t hide from them.

Only The Paranoid Survive

High Output Management


The essential skill of creating and maintaining new businesses—the art of the entrepreneur—can be summed up in a single word: managing. In High Output Management, Andrew S. Grove, former chairman and CEO (and employee number three) of Intel, shares his perspective on how to build and run a company. Born of Grove’s experiences at one of America’s leading technology companies, this legendary management book is a Silicon Valley staple, equally appropriate for sales managers, accountants, consultants, and teachers, as well as CEOs and startup founders. Grove covers techniques for creating highly productive teams, demonstrating methods of motivation that lead to peak performance—throughout, High Output Management is a practical handbook for navigating real-life business scenarios and a powerful management manifesto with the ability to revolutionize the way we work.

High-Output Management

As mentioned, there are very few recommendations of books within our industry, so if you have any that you’d like to share then please let me know in the comments below.

The type of books I am looking for include:

  • Leadership / Management
  • Productivity
  • Process & Delivery

Image Credit – Moyan Brenn (Flickr)

Blog General

What SEO Taught Me About Losing Weight – My Personal Story

Disclaimer: This post is more of a personal story, and might not be what you are looking for. I would love for you to read it, but I would understand if this is not your type of post. If that is the case, have a good day.

I got comfortable! When I met my wife what seems to be an age ago now, I fell into a very comfortable way of living with little exercise. I then moved to Hatfield, for a job and everything changed. I had given up football, which was huge for me as I was quite decent at it and it is a sport that I love and continue to do to this very day. After a while of living in Hatfield, things started to get difficult, I stopped all exercise and started to eat crap food including takeaways on pretty much a regular basis. Whilst I was there I put on 3 stone, now that is hard to admit but food became a comfort.

After a year, I moved in with the wife in our very first house and things got a little better. I started bootcamp which was every Saturday, and I enjoyed it, unfortunately I got injured and it started to pitter out. Things then went back to how they were, eating and not much exercise.

Fast forward three years, and not much had changed. I had threatened to lose weight for a long time but never kept to it. That was until I saw a good friend of mine lose some weight in a short period of time, and how it has changed his life around.

You are probably thinking what the hell has this got to do with SEO. Well, so far it hasn’t. What I had to do to was have a strategy of how I was going to lose weight and this is where my SEO background came in.

Long Term Strategy:

Although clients want results instantly, and on occasions this can happen, the majority are long term plans to achieve sustainable growth and stability when you reach your targets.

This is the same with weight loss. We’d love to lose all your weight in a couple of weeks, and I am sure it is possible. But is it sustainable? Is it healthy? Will it stay off? In most cases its a no to all of those questions. Don’t set a date to lose by, just ensure that you plan what you are going to do to achieve your goals.

Set Goals, Achievable Goals:

We want to be number one on Google for our most competitive term, increase traffic by 200% and revenue by 100% and we want it in 6 months. Sound familiar? Yup, I thought so. Managing expectations of your client, and what can be achieved with the budget that is allocated and the timescales given is the first part of a successful campaign.

To me, this was the biggest thing that I had to think about when I started to lose weight. Where did I want to get to. Once I knew that, I had to break it down into manageable chunks otherwise I would see the target as too big, unachievable and therefore more than likely break my resistance at some point.

Think big, but break it down into more realistic micro targets.

Multiple Tactic Strategy:

You are often telling your clients that you need to come at the project from multiple angles, especially when link building as it creates a more natural profile. Weight loss is no different!

You need to manage your diet (on-site optimisation) and eat well, but more importantly you need to get active and with more than one type of exercise. I have seen many people start with a single exercise, then just get bored of it and stop. This defeats the objective. Back in January I started Boxing twice a week and Spinning once a week, and haven’t looked back.

Boxing is amazing for fitness and works all parts of your body, whilst spinning is just like going out clubbing, but instead you are on a bike. As well as those two exercises, I try to throw in a short run a week (I hate running) and a game of squash. These are all different types of exercises and only running is where I do it on my own and need that extra motivation. Class based exercise is the best for me as I can feed off other people and my competitive nature means I want to beat them, burning more calories in the mean time.

Don’t stick to a single tactic, it won’t work on it’s own. You need to attack the project from all angles and ensure you are running a 360 degree project.

Measure, Refine and Optimise:

This one is obvious on both counts. We are constantly measuring our efforts to see if they are working. Where they are not working then we are refining what we do to make sure that we can tweak the project.

Now I get a little obsessive over this and weigh on a daily basis, but I think that way I can work out whether I eat a little more today, or I need to cut back to get into line. It’s one of those things that you need to do it as much as you need.

You might think, this is all obvious, but isn’t SEO? Create good content, generate links and have a good website? Obvious right! Well as of last night, these key points have helped me achieve my first target. I have lost 1st 13lbs in 4 months. 🙂 Although a long way to go, I am really happy that I have got this far and feel a lot more confident. Thanks for reading, now on to the next stage!

Blog General

Who Dares, Wins! – The SEO Challenge

Game On! It’s War! Your Going Down Punk! 🙂

In recent weeks, Shaad and I have been having a dual with our personal websites, in terms of who can rank highest for the query “Oxford Based SEO”. It has been a bit of fun and something that has provided us both with a bit of a laugh over the last few weeks.

So with that in mind, we are going to make the challenge a bit more interesting by targeting more Oxford SEO terms, including the following:

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Moving to SWBroadband Hosting

SWBroadband - Web Hosting ProviderOver the last few years I have been meaning to move away from my former web hosting company Real Web Host. There was no specific reason for moving as I had been with them since I was at University, but I wanted to move to a UK based server and collate all my domains/hosting in one account.

Moving web hosting provider always felt as if it was going to be a painful experience, probably the reason I had put it off for such a long time. During this time I spoke to lots of people who had bad experiences with providers such as 123reg and Fasthosts, that I decided to bite the bullet and stay where I was.

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NMA Search Agency List – Friend or Foe?

The NMA Search Agencies Marketing Guide 2011 list was published online recently, and has caused quite a lot of conversation around the twitter sphere. The annual list has highlighted some interesting results with some big winners and losers.

The biggest loser in this year’s list seems to be Latitude with a loss of over £1,000,000 in turnover YOY, with fellow agencies iCrossingUK and Propellernet also seeing significant losses. Looking at the other end of the scale the biggest winners are Smart-Traffic with an increase of over £2,000,000 whilst Forward3D & Epiphany Solutions also saw huge increases.

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Communicating with your Clients

Communicating with your client is a key part of any SEO account manager or account executives role. It is essential to clearly communicate on a regular basis with your client, whether it is to provide recommendations, documentation or discuss some development enhancements. Becoming an extension of their marketing team allows you to build a long lasting relationship, which helps with client retention.

I regularly contact the main stakeholders of all my clients, this enables me to build a relationship that allows us to talk about a range of different subjects even stuff away from work, including Saturday’s football game or my forthcoming wedding.

Below I will describe how I communicate with my clients and the tools I use to make sure that I am always available and keep a strong working relationship.