Gavin Hirst - Thursday 26th January 2017

Which Digital Marketing Elements will we be focussing on in 2017?

Digital Marketing trends for 2017

The dust is finally starting to settle after a pretty hectic Christmas period for the Digital Hothouse team. Usually Christmas and New Year bring a time to relax and unwind a little as clients take some well-deserved time off, usually allowing us to catch our breath and get round to doing all the things we have been putting off over the past few months. This year however has been a bit different. New client meetings, big projects and exciting developments have kept us super busy so we are just getting round to writing up our usual post where we make our best guesses for the things everyone needs to focus on in the coming year when it comes to digital marketing.

As you know, here at Digital Hothouse we work across the full range of digital marketing activity but our main focus is SEO.  Below are our top five tips for things you should be focussing on this year – we’d love to hear your comments and find out what is on your radar for 2017.

1.      Engagement data will be revealed as a ranking factor by Google

Although many of us who work in SEO already believe that Google uses engagement as a ranking factor, this has never been officially confirmed by Google. With the huge influx in content marketing over the past 2-3 years which does not always focus on quality, it would be good to see Google come out and say that how people engage with your content will impact on your ability to rank. This will focus the minds of content creators to really think about a piece of content before they publish and ensure that they are adding value to the end user, targeting engagement rather than ticking off another piece of content off your list.

NB: if Google were to announce that engagement is indeed a ranking factor, there would also need to be some clear policy in place about how click spam would be handled.

2.      Mobile will be even more important than ever

With the roll out of Google’s mobile-first index expected in the first quarter of 2017, the focus on mobile is going to be even more crucial than ever. How should you prepare for this? Here are some things that you should have done already but if you haven’t, you need to prioritise these over the next few weeks:

  • Create a mobile version of your site. We still come across clients who do not have a mobile friendly version of their site whether that’s responsive, an, a PWA (progressive web app) or adaptive. That has to be priority number one and not just for the new mobile-first index. With more and more users accessing sites via a mobile device, this is crucial to the long term success of many websites. Get on it!
  • Check your content on both mobile and desktop. Some sites choose to present different content to users on the desktop and mobile. This is understandable as you may want to present a paired down version of your site to mobile users, however if Google is using optimised content from the desktop version of your site and that doesn’t appear on mobile, when the index flips you could be in trouble. Conduct an audit of the content across both platforms and make sure you are not going to lose ranking once the index flips.
  • Implement your structured data on mobile. If you have a mobile specific site and not responsive, make sure you implement your structured data as this is often neglected and Google will need it.

There will be other considerations once Google announce more information about the mobile-first index but these are important ones to be working on now.

3.      Local SEO will become a crucial part of any successful SEO strategy

If you’re not already focussing on local SEO factors, now is the time to start. Directly linked to the shift in importance to mobile above, with mobile now seen as the first search traffic source for many search queries, the importance of marketing to a local audience is becoming increasingly important.

The rise in the number of ‘near me’ searches conducted on mobiles tells you that there is a shift away from people necessarily including their location in the search. This means you need to be thinking about the content you are presenting to meet these local search queries and ensuring you are visible in that space.

Looking at the Google Trends Data below for ‘near me’ searches in New Zealand, we can see a fairly substantial rise in ‘near me’ searches over the past five years:

Looking at the most popular search queries, we can see that food and drink are the most commonly searched ‘near me’ queries but it applies to a wide range of search queries:

All this means that local search should be at the heart of your SEO strategy for 2017.

4.      Social shopping and instant purchases

We would love to go into all our social media predictions for 2017 but we could go on for ever (we may cover these in another post) so let’s just go for what we think could be a big one: social shopping and instant purchases. We manage a lot of social media accounts and we are seeing more and more emphasis placed on the ‘Shop’ – a place on Facebook where you can add all your products which then allow users to browse your product collection directly on the Facebook platform. Instagram currently offers instant purchases direct from the platform and we think this will open up to more social platforms in 2017.

Sprout Social reported that “57% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand they follow. Additionally, 75% have made a purchase because they saw it on social media.” ( This shows the power of social marketing and the ability to directly engage with your customers through social platforms presents new opportunities for digital marketers.

5.      Google will move to better audience targeting in Adwords

Again, we’d love to delve into all our SEM/PPC predictions for 2017, but we’re already pushing things with the length of this post so let’s keep it to one that we think is going to have a big impact. As Google and Facebook continue to generate a crazy amount of revenue through PPC, largely thanks to amazing demographic and interest-based targeting options, it is likely that we will see Google improving their targeting options to bring them more in line with Facebook. Larry Kim is a huge proponent of using a combination of Facebook advertising and Google Adwords together to drive traffic through a combination of awareness raising, remarketing lists for search and remarketing to convert newly created awareness into leads and sales.

With an improvement in targeting options within Google’s AdWords platform, we are likely to see more and more companies using this twin-pronged attack to their PPC activity in 2017.

So, that’s us for 2017. Whether you agree or disagree with our predictions, we’d love to hear from you. There have of course been a lot of predictions already made about the coming year by experts across all areas of digital marketing. Here are some of our favourites:


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