2016 was dominated by Mobile First and the Internet of Things. And there can be little doubt that 2017 will be the year of Virtual Reality. But VR is not just an app - it has the potential to transform the way we interact and communicate. VR equipment is selling like hot cakes and early adoption will give way to a world with Virtual Reality as a mainstream platform.
Do not underestimate the impact that this will have on our everyday lives. Because VR is not just for gamers or tech geeks. It is the next platform. The next UX. The next big thing not just in technology but in business and daily life.
We are about to see a paradigm shift in behaviour comparable to the dawn of the internet and the smart phone. In the VR-First world there will be no devices. No screens. No desktop computers. No phones...
Your whole environment, your colleagues, friends and your own appearance will be virtual. You can experience your world - and project yourself - in almost any way that you can imagine.
This infographic is a visualisation of the main ways in which I expect Virtual Reality to impact SEO, social media and digital marketing:
(In the near future infographics may be replaced with a VR equivalent - something infinitely more immersive, interactive and experiential!)
Just like the internet age and smartphone revolutions of recent years, there will soon be applications for VR - which we can only begin to imagine as yet. But we can be sure of two things:
First, people will use search engines and social media in the VR environment. They will do so in currently almost unimaginable ways.
Second, the VR world - and the content and data that it generates - will transform the digital marketing landscape.
The SEO industry is about to see the greatest transformation it has ever seen. in 2017 marketers and particularly SEO and Social Media professionals must begin to embrace the Virtual Reality transformation and surf the big waves that it will make in all our lives.
These are the main five ways in which Virtual Reality is likely to impact SEO:
Links and Social
Virtual reality content is the link and social sharing bait of the future. From flat images to 360-degree video, It can can be re-purposed as normal online video and graphics in order to reach the widest possible audience.
People will link to your VR and VR-generated content, particularly next year while it is still relatively new. Move first and sieze the advantage from your competition. Anyone can create VR experiences and content and while the technology is new it is particularly newsworthy.
Facebook is already shifting towards VR with live 360 video - and I expect other social platforms to do the same. (The next big social app might be a VR version of Snapchat).
Hot and Newsworthy
VR is a hot, newsworthy topic in its own right - regardless of what you do with it! In most industries, any use of VR at all will be the talk of boardrooms and conferences around the world. If you are able to make innovative and meaningful use of VR then you can also reach new audiences.
Amazon’s experiments with drones won coverage in Wall Street Journal and even on the BBC's mighty domain.
The overwhelming experiences possible in virtual reality far outweigh the public's interest in drone technology. Almost everything you do will be newsworthy.
Reach a new audience with your VR content case studies! VR is a sophisticated content medium - but a content medium nonetheless. Just like video, brands will be able to create experiences ranging from the terrifying to the hilarious. Imagine the equivalent of Buzz Feed but fed with immersive and interactive VR content! The audiences will be huge and they will be engaged and they will share. Your content will can be widely shared not just in today's old-fashioned social networks but in the mind-blowing VR-first platforms of tomorrow.
New influencers & publications
Reach new influencers in VR, tech and marketing! Your forays into VR have the potential to be featured on high authority tech and marketing blogs such as Tech Crunch and Econsultancy. VR is your latest change to harness a seismic shift in society to harness bloggers and journalists who would not previously have found your business interesting. A VR tour of a sewage works has the potential to gain coverage, brand mentions, links and social media sharing...
Social Virtual Reality
This is perhaps the most important opportunity of all. And yet again it's mind-blowing.
The next generation of social platforms and applications will be in the VR environment! Read that again. It is game changing for digital marketers.
Just like the social data and big data of today, search engines will be keen to tap in to the VR data in order to index and rank it. In the future they will use Artificial Intelligence to do that - which represents another enormous opportunity for marketers.
This article was written by Ben Acheson, head of SEO, and Alice Beaden, marketing and events manager, at DBD Media for The Drum.