Web searches are one of the best indicators of public interest. That fact is a basic underpinning of online marketing and SEO tactics – but what can web searches tell us about these very same industries?
Inspired by the year-end Google Trends campaign, we decided to look at some of the most common keywords from our own profession to see what terms are falling and rising in popularity. By using Google Trends to analyze seven years’ worth of data – from January of 2008 to November of 2014 – on 20 words related to online marketing terminology, design, and strategies, we created a review of the evolution of the industry and some predictions for its future. This new marketing trend report gives us a long-term global analysis as well as more recent regional insights.
Public Relations and Press Releases vs. Content Marketing and Inbound Marketing
A winning content promotion plan begins with understanding which types of outreach work and which are falling out of favor. At the start of our dataset for this study, which dates from January 2008, press releases and public relations were popular approaches to marketing. Although searches for both terms had fallen about 50% from highs in early 2004, traffic for these tactics was nearly 40 times greater than that for content marketing and inbound marketing at the start of our study period.
Interest in public relations and press releases has bobbed continuously lower over the course of seven years around the world. Although searches for these terms have recently increased in Brazil, France, and Egypt, overall interest has been declining in North America, Europe, Oceania, and Africa. Similarly, press releases have gained traffic in two European countries (Germany and France) but declined on every other continent.
In contrast, content marketing took a swift upturn in the last three years, with the US, Canada, and several European countries leading searches, followed by growing interest from India and Australia. Searches for the phrase nearly doubled between January and December of 2012, remained relatively stable throughout 2013, then doubled again in 2014. Inbound marketing has had a more steady growth pattern, increasing by 24% on average every six months with searches originating in North America, Europe (particularly Germany, the UK, and France), and India.
Overall, during the study period traffic for public relations decreased 57%, press releases fell 44%, content marketing increased 700%, and inbound marketing grew 9,100%*. Press releases currently have a stronger hold on search traffic than public relations, but these growth patterns may indicate that content and inbound marketing are rapidly becoming the preferred tactics in almost every region.
If press releases are falling out of favor, which content types are rising? By volume, parallax and infographics have held sway in content types since early 2012, although prior to that the latter was in third place behind flip books. However, flip books and infographics have shown the most growth in recent years, which may suggest that these content types will hold the most interest for marketers, brands, and even publishers in 2015. This is valuable knowledge for your outreach efforts: Publishers are eager to work with marketers who can offer them the most popular visualizations.
Interest in motion graphics has changed the least in the past seven years, changing less than 11% each month. Overall this content type has been on a slight decline, but in comparison to other types it has held the most consistent share of searches. Interestingly, the western hemisphere appears to recognize motion graphics more widely than the east; this type has earned the least traction of the four we analyzed in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Oceania.
Interest in parallax has more than doubled since 2008, but searches for this term may be inflated by references to a capital investment group, a hydraulic mechanics function, and a cinematic effect that all share the same name. However, searches peaked in four major European markets in September of 2013, coinciding with a parallax update for iOS7 and indicating that there is significant interest in the design for marketing purposes.
Results for flip books may also be skewed by a similarly named art medium and computer model. Regardless, marketers should note that searches for the phrase are up more than 100% since 2008. Europe may hold the most promising future for this type of content, as searches have risen over the past two years in the UK, France, and Germany.
The rise in attention to infographics is the most important trend to watch. After modest growth in 2010, interest in this content type has ballooned steadily upwards, rising 661% since January of 2011 and peaking in November 2014. Although interest in the medium has fallen in Argentina, Russia, and Egypt over the past two years, searches have otherwise increased in major markets on all continents. Considering the possible conflation of meanings for parallax and flipbooks, and the comparatively low interest for motion graphics, infographics emerge as the most likely content type to dominate the marketer’s toolkit in the coming year.
Want more insights on the trends that are rising – and falling – in online marketing worldwide? Download the complete marketing trend report for an interactive graph of 20 terms plus a global and regional analysis.
*Searches for inbound marketing first appeared in Google Trends in May of 2008. Percent change is calculated based on May 2008–November 2014.