Marketing is a living and breathing beast. What was thought to be true last year doesn’t necessarily have to be true now. Being a good marketer means being in front of up-and-coming trends, staying informed, and being flexible in modifying your tactics as practices change.


The Content Marketing Institute recently held their annual SEO and Content Marketing Predictions webinar. Moderated by CMI chief strategy advisory Robert Rose, with commentary from SEER Interactive founder Wil Reynolds and Conductor CEO Seth Seth Besmertnik, we gain some insight into what we can expect as marketers in the coming year. Here are their three predictions.


Prediction #1: Executives will start taking an increased interest in SEO and content marketing.


Just a few years back, the concept of search rankings and content marketing were not exactly top priority in the minds of executives. However, it seems that the majority of C-Suite players are beginning to take interest in what value SEO can bring to their organizations.


In fact, they’re not just interested—they are starting to take SEO and content marketing very seriously. Recently, we have begun seeing heavy investing in high priority and targeted content. While these practices are truly transformative for a company, you still need to be able to articulate that value to the higher-ups.


“So, how are you going to be able to relay that message to management?,” Reynolds said. “It’s best to think of it coming down to dollars and cents—simply talking to someone about links clicked and views received is not hitting home. Go towards more simple language and use compelling empirical data.”


One method could be to utilize comparative statistics to show the benefits over another option. For example, SEO.com found that content marketing, when executed over a long period of time (36+ months), yields three times as many leads, dollar for dollar, when compared to paid search. These simples yet impactful comparisons convey a big picture concept that resonate best with executives.


With this in mind, you have to be careful of the obsessive executive. As you present this value to the executive team, some will become fixated on certain metrics or keywords and put up blinders to the full spectrum of the value content marketing provides. It’s important to get in front of them in meetings and discussions and educate them on the spectrum of value from all aspects of SEO and content.


Prediction #2: SEO is just becoming marketing.


More and more, SEO and content marketing are becoming one and the same. It’s imperative to not think of SEO and marketing as being siloed departments but rather complementary entities that work best in tandem. Businesses and organizations that are stuck in this old way of thinking will surely begin to fall by the wayside.


It’s a pretty simple notion: why should you care about your search rankings if you don’t have any content value to drive your customers to once they locate you. If a user clicks on your site first but is met with a sluggish and difficult interface and little content, they are sure go find business with a competitor. A keyword represents what someone wants, but is what you’re marketing relevant to what they actually want? Are you the best option in that keyword?


“It’s important to begin developing your buyer personas in order to know exactly who your target audience is,” Besmertnik said. “When you talk about persona development and finding the value of the user, the reaction is usually that sales owns that end. Companies need to begin moving to a more unified team between sales and marketing.”


Are bounce rate and engagement the best thing to measure in 2018? Probably not; you need to be compelling in your content, website, and language. You’re speaking to a human, not just a search engine or keyword. The bottom line: with an integrated and cohesive marketing strategy, not getting found for what your business does should no longer be tolerated.


Prediction #3 Your customer is the only algorithm that matters.


To build on the previous idea, content is about communicating with your customer. To provide good content is a service you owe to your customers and it’s where you are going to start seeing true value. When Google started, they weren’t thinking about SEO necessarily. They wanted to rank their searches for the best pieces of content possible.


The content you create should be thought of as a journey for the consumer. Developing guided experiences from initial contact to the final sale should be a top priority. This means providing information, building a seamless online experience, and offering continued content and support after the sale. Some medium-sized companies are crushing large enterprises in rankings largely due to the guided experience. As such, Google is rewarding companies with higher search results.


Somewhere on the journey of SEO, we tend to get fixated on the computer algorithm, which is the wrong approach. The average person doesn’t care about the keywords; they care about the content, and that will take priority over ranking. Improvement in search results means understanding your customers and what you can do in your company to give it a better experience.


While there is certainly a host of other factors that are shaping the content marketing landscape, these three tenets are the revolutionary and game-changing predictions that these three industry leaders agree should be at the forefront of every marketing strategy. You should be able to communicate the value of content marketing to your executives, integrate SEO and content marketing into one practice, and build brand journeys with the customer in mind if you want to gain a competitive edge this year.