2017 was a big year for content marketing. According to joint research by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, over 60 percent of marketers said their content marketing strategies were more effective than the year before (YAY!). With businesses catching on to the importance of high quality,  targeted content, it's perhaps no surprise that their increased efforts are paying off. Good on you, marketers.

But here's the thing.

While these results are certainly heartening, it's important that we don't rest on our laurels. The landscape is continuously evolving and so, too, should your content practices. If you're looking to achieve further success, you'll need to stay on top of content trends in 2018. Here are a few you need to know.

Upwardly Mobile

It's common knowledge that mobile internet consumption surpassed that of desktops in 2016, but the amount of time spent surfing the net on mobiles continues to steadily rise, with US consumers now spending an average of five hours a day on their mobile phones.

With the main goal of your content to reach your audience where they are, the implications are clear: you need mobile-friendly content in 2018. That doesn't only mean adapting your desktop content though, as this year will see a rise in mobile-only networks, like Snapchat, growing in popularity.

Meredith Wood, VP of Content at Fundera, a leading online marketplace and advisor for small business loans, confirms, "As Google is becoming a mobile-first search engine, a lot of content marketers are putting even more emphasis on thinking through a mobile content strategy. Should they adopt AMP across site? How should they develop their mobile experience (responsive, separate site, etc.)? These are decisions that every organization that's invested in content is going to have make in 2018."

A Rise in Voice and Vision

John Newton, Chief Technology Officer at Alfresco content management platform believes that in 2018, interacting with computers will become easier, thanks to the integration of "voice and vision" inputs. He explains, "Mixed-mode or multisensory inputs will enable us to do more with our machines - from improved, AI-powered voice recognition to "vision" capabilities that can understand hand gestures, interpret eye movements and recognize facial expressions."

Voice search becoming a growing trend has a number of implications for your content. People are looking for answers to their questions fast, and you'll need to provide them with simple, quality content that provides them with the information they seek.

"Voice recognition will become more effective in understanding speech and generating answers through innovations in artificial intelligence," Newton affirms. "Far beyond the traditional keyboard and mouse, the new world of verbal and visual inputs means that conversations and gestures will open up new ways for us to supervise machines for greater productivity and ease, providing salvation for typists everywhere!"

Intelligent SEO

To keep up with the rise in voice recognition and search, you'll probably need to invest in SEO this year. According to Mark Growth, Marketing and Growth Hacking, there are three main implications of voice search. The first is that your content will need to sound more natural, the way that people speak, if you want it to come up first in search results.

Questions like "who", "what", "when", "where", "how" and "why" are among the most popular voice queries, with Search Engine Land finding a 60 percent increase in the growth of question phrases.

The second implication is that voice search is increasingly local, with consumers wanting to know what the best restaurants near them are, or if they can go to a doctor close by. So, there will be more emphasis on your local business in SEO practices.

Finally, search length will require adjustments in your content's keywords. People typing to search, for example, may input just one or two keywords, whereas when speaking, they'll use an entire phrase. This means you'll need to include more long-tail keywords in your content.

"Invest in SEO," Wood advises. "Knowing it is harder than ever to compete in content, one of the easiest places to find audience is the search engine. Google is trying to find the best answers for searchers' questions, and if your content can be those answers, you'll have a steady traffic base."

Drill Down to a Niche

Another rising trend this year is focusing on what your business does best. "Niche is nice," says Woods. "Don't try to be everything for everyone. Figure out what it is that you know absolutely better than any other brand and focus your content there initially. Your expertise will show in the content, and over time, as you start building a reputation for quality content."

Newton confirms this rise in niche content, as 2018 sees a revolution in microservices. "Successful large systems are most likely to have been built on successful small-scale systems, and by leveraging microservices, companies can move fast to build the scalable, adaptable platforms that can bring new services to market and adapt old services to new requirements." In plain English? That means more targeted content than ever before.

The Bottom Line

In an endless sea of clickbait, finding a way to capture people's attention isn't easy. While observing new trends in content, don't forget the importance of quality over quantity. Content marketing needs to be worked on over time, tested and adjusted. With patience, perseverance and willingness to adapt to new trends, the sky will be the limit for your content in 2018.

Published on: Feb 7, 2018