Another years draws to a close and, like we imagine you have too, we’ve been thinking back over all that’s happened, and all that’s to come.

From a digital marketing point of view, it’s been a year of technical development and a renewed focus on ensuring our platforms are technically excellent. Some will no doubt say this was the year when voice search really took off – with more progression to come!

2018 is already pitched as a big one for mobile, as Google moves to its mobile first index, and we expect to see a greater uptake of other technologies such as VR and programmatic.

Digital marketing in 2017

We’re lucky to work in an industry where things change frequently and we can enjoy new opportunities through developing technologies and techniques that adapt to an evolving landscape. Throughout it all, we stay true to common values of ROI, data-driven insight and user-led best practice – at the same time, search engines like Google bring new shape to the decisions we make and, every now and again, even go as far as to tell us what we should be doing.

This year opened with a focus on web security. Aaron posted a blog back in January all about SSL certificates and how they were going to become even more important in 2017. Today, websites like Let’s Encrypt make security certificates freely accessible; we’d still highly recommend any website owner ensure their website is using an up to date SSL certificate.

In February, we spotted a change in Google’s layout that brought the recruitment industry into focus with the introduction of the jobs pack. At the time, there was a lot of buzz around the changing role of Google and how it was tapping into this highly lucrative industry. It’s likely we’re still to see the full effects of this, but it no doubt brought added interest to the whole idea of featured snippets – something that’s been a consistent theme throughout the year.

March was the month when Google announced changes to its ‘exact match’ model that would change the way we use match types on Google AdWords. It also gave further weight to the abilities of Rankbrain and other algorithm improvements which made it possible for the search giant to confidently make decisions based on the semantic relationships between keywords – basically, it now understood that one meaning can be conveyed in multiple ways, and encouraged us to optimise and advertise accordingly.

Back in April, we were thrilled to win the title of Best Small PPC Agency at the European Search Awards, in recognition of the incredible results achieved across our paid advertising clients. Our SEO team was also recognised, as was our integrated approach which comprises organic, paid and design/development elements to drive high ROIs for our clients’ businesses; we were shortlisted in a number of categories of the European Search Awards, including Best Small SEO Agency and Best Integrated Campaign.

european search awards winners

Link building has remained an essential component in successful SEO this year – and we believe it will continue to be so well into 2018 and beyond. In line with this, Google provided updated link building guidelines back in May, ensuring that digital marketers were always adhering (as we always do here) to best practice and the provision of exceptional user experience above and beyond the pursuit of higher ranking positions.

June was another fantastic month for us as an agency as we were awarded the prize for Digital Strategy at the RAR Digital Awards. RAR (Recommended Agencies Register) is a platform which relies solely on the feedback of clients to assess the quality of agencies like ours; our win in their awards was testament to the quality of reviews we receive from our clients, so to all of you who reviewed us, a huge thank you.

In July, we reported that Google had been hit by a record fine for favouring its own shopping service over competitor sites. The outcome still to be reached, this was a controversial decision and undoubtedly one that, once concluded, will affect the way businesses advertise online. Keep an eye on our blog for more information as it becomes available.

Google continued to invest in a range of new tools for marketers this year, and in August, released a new unified ‘Global Site Tag’. This is intended to achieve a unified tagging method that can, in time, combine tag requirements for Analytics, Optimize and conversion.js; find out how to implement it for yourself here.

By September, buzz around Google’s upcoming mobile-first index was reaching its peak and as a result, more businesses than ever were considering how their mobile strategy would adapt to the changes. As we know, Google will be rolling out its mobile-first approach to indexing throughout 2018, meaning that it will consider mobile factors before desktop when considering which websites should rank where. This also means that SEOs need to adapt to ensure they keep their clients’ sites up to standard; check out our blog post on how to adapt SEO workflows for mobile first indexing here.

The Drum is a highly respected publication in the digital marketing industry and in October, we were thrilled to be named in the top 3 search agencies in their annual Top 100 Agencies report.

impression-wins-rar-digital-strategy-award

If you’re advertising online, you’re no doubt aware of the many changes that have faced Facebook advertisers this year, including tighter regulations around targeting and transparency on the social platform. In November, we reported how one of those changes – specifically around transparency – would enable advertisers to effectively ‘spy’ on their competitors. With Facebook advertising remaining an effective channel across a wide range of businesses, we’ll be keeping an eye on continuing updates throughout 2018.

Bringing us all the way up to December, it’s been a year of technological advancements that are going to continue to affect the way we market our businesses online well into the future. It makes sense, then, that one prediction we’ve made lies in the pursuit of technical excellence across marketing channels – including your own website. Read about why we believe there’s never been a better time to invest in your business website, here.

Impression in 2017

For us at Impression, it’s been a year of fantastic achievements and exciting new developments, too. Having grown our team once again this year, bringing on board even more experts in the areas of SEO, PPC, CRO, digital PR, content marketing, web design and development, we’ve been working with some awesome clients, new and old, to continue to deliver high returns on their digital investments.

With a growing team comes a greater opportunity for us as a business to work with even more great clients in the future. At the same time, with more people comes bigger socials and this year, we’ve had a lot of fun as a group, too…

impression piratesThe European Search Awards marked the first Impression tour overseas, with six of us jetting over to Poland for 27 hours of culture, glamour and, we admit it, perhaps a few too many vodkas along the way! To come home with the award for Best Small PPC Agency in Europe was a huge accolade though and being shortlisted in the SEO and integrated search categories too was well worth the celebration.

Awards have provided us with a lot of fun this year; Mikey and Edd picked up our Digital Strategy award at the RAR Digital Awards and even managed a ‘selfie’ with the entire audience! Becky and Lauren attended the UK Biddable Media Awards, which were a lot of fun, and Aaron, Tom, Jess, Edd, Becky and Liam headed to London for the UK Search Awards, too.

Of course, we rarely need an excuse for a party and our annual summer bash was no exception! This year, we took to the high seas of the River Trent for a fun-filled voyage followed by a night out in town. In retrospect, we might have checked the dress code to see that ‘fancy dress’ actually meant ‘formal dress’, but we loved our pirate theme – as the many photos over on our Facebook page show!

We returned to the scene of the last year’s Christmas party a couple of weeks ago, enjoying the Best Parties Ever hospitality, this time with a carnival theme. Turns out, we all clean up pretty well (though some would say the glamorous gowns and black tie attire were a little out of place over at Rock City…).

As we firmly believe in a motto of ‘work hard, play hard’, this year has also been about investing in our team and ensuring we’re all at the top of our game, all of the time. With the level of expertise within the business, we’ve been able to craft bespoke training courses which feed directly into colleague development plans. These training courses have more recently been moved onto an online platform which, as we move into the new year, will enable us to continue to grow our training side of the business and also incorporate that further into our service offering for those businesses seeking to learn more about the full spectrum of digital marketing opportunities.

Conferences are always a lot of fun, and a chance to learn from and validate our own thinking with other experts in our industry. We were on stage at both Brighton SEO and Hero Conf again this year – with Liam being invited to speak at SMX Munich after winning the title of ‘most actionable talk’ at the latter. Edd spoke at the Ecommercial Conference over in Leicester, too, and the team enjoyed attending Search Love and SMX London. We learned a lot from each, and shared those insights throughout our blog.

liam wade hero conf 2016 (1)

We’ve also continued our now firmly-established bi-weekly Lunch and Learn, giving the team the chance to hear about what’s happening around all disciplines of the business (and we get a cracking lunch laid on by Tom and Aaron, too!). Our guest speaker, Kirsty Hulse, was a great asset to the Lunch and Learn programme and we’ll be inviting more external speakers throughout 2018.

Plus, our investment in our own internal systems has made it easier than ever for us to share ideas, discuss topics and showcase our colleagues’ successes throughout the team.

More recently (last week, in fact!), we moved to a new office slap-bang in the centre of Nottingham. Our Nottingham HQ continues to be supported by our London base, and the new space we have here in the Midlands holds a lot of exciting new opportunities, too… keep watching for more updates in the new year.

So… what’s next?

2018 will be an exciting year for anyone building a business and using online channels to do so. For us as a business ourselves, the plan for the coming year will undoubtedly flex and adapt as we work through it, but we’re incredibly excited already about what is to come and what we can share with you along the way.

As always, we’ll be sharing our insights, updates and news from the industry right here on our blog, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and in our monthly newsletter. For anyone looking for a new challenge in the new year, we also have a number of vacancies open for digital marketing, web design and development jobs right here in Nottingham; keep an eye on our careers page for more.

For now, we’d like to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you for supporting us in 2017. We wish you a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2018.

Impression Christmas opening hours

The team will be taking a break over Christmas and the New Year, but some staff will be working on the 27/28/29 December. The full team will return on the 2nd January 2018.

Laura Hampton

Head of Marketing & PR

Head of Marketing at @impressiontalk specialising in user-centred SEO, PR, content marketing and digital strategy. In my spare time, I jump out of planes.

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