What Does The Future Hold For SEO? 2014 Predictions [Curated]

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Another predictions post.  But this one’s with a twist. In the spirit of this glorious season, a curated post, sharing with you what other experts predict for 2014.

1. More Hummingbirds on the Horizon

Over at CMI, Arnie Kuenn has some good advice on tackling SEO in 2014.  Create good content.  In his guest blog, Arnie provides advice on Google’s Hummingbird, the algo launched a couple of months ago and one that will play a more prominenet role in 2014

Creating content that’s useful has always been an important factor in content marketing. With Google Hummingbird, the usefulness of content becomes even more significant. The number of people searching in the form of questions is constantly increasing. As a result, creating content that answers those questions is more likely to appear higher in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

2. Content Marketing is Bigger than Ever

Tom Schmitz wrote a good guest post over at Search Engine Land entitled 2014 SEO Playbook: On-Page Factors.  In it he predicts -and I agree- that content marketing will gain in importance and Google’s algorithm will get even better at rewarding brands with effective marketing strategies..

Content marketing will move from buzzword to mature marketing movement in 2014. From an SEO perspective, Google will be looking at companies that have robust content marketing efforts as a sign that they’re the kind of business Google wants to support.

3. Evolving SERPs & The Imprtance of Structured Data Markup

In the same article above, Tom discusses structured data and its growing importance moving into 2014.  Brands that do not implement structured mark-up might be missing out on showing up in search engine results pages that require them.

4. Google Will Crack Down Even Harder On Link Spammers

SERP manipulation via spammy link building tactics is still GG’s achyles heal and will continue to be so in 2014.  This also means that Google will continue to penalise and make examples of sites that use such tactics.  Watch this video referencing this year’s example (Interflora) and lusten carefully to what Matt advises sites to do to recover from such penalties.

5. A Consumer-Led Search Multi-Channel Strategy Becomes Essential

SEO, well at least to me, has always been about providing the best search results to search engine users, this is what Google is about and therefore anyone optimizing for Google ranking should be aiming for this sacred goal.

Unfortunately, many try to game the system hoping for quick artifical wins that put their clients in jeopardy.

In 2014 this will simply not fly!  Google’s algorithms now take into account semantics and multi channel signals as part of their ranking criteria.  Search optimisers who fail to address these will fail.

According to Kevin Gibbons, Managing Director of Blue Glass UK,

“The biggest challenge I see for marketers in 2014 is to integrate skills into a multi-channel strategy. Semantic search has evolved hugely during the last 12-18 months and the common theme is focused on providing the best user experience possible. The required skill-sets to do this are becoming much broader than search, spreading across digital and offline channels too.”

 

6. Optimization for Multi-Screen and Smart Phone & Tablet Use

2014 will be the year when optimising for multi screens will beocme a must.  As more and more people start using multiscreens such as mobiles and ipads, search engine optimizers who neglect this will fail.  Accroding to Cheryl Conner in a recent Forbes article:

In June 2013, Neilson reported that of mobile phone users in the U.S. 61% of them now use smart phones. That is a 10% increase since early 2012. The study “Why We Don’t Buy: Consumer Attitudes on Shopping Cart Abandonment,” by Bronto Software and Magento said that 54% of people who buy online daily or weekly own a tablet and 64%  own a smartphone.“You can’t afford not to have a mobile friendly website in 2014,” Gibby says, and notes that having a mobile-friendly website implemented wrongly could hurt your site’s performance in Google searches. Here’s why:

In November 2013, Bronto Software published a study of 106 online retailers named “Responsive Design Provides the Perfect Fit”. The study showed that for companies marketing through emails, when smartphone and mobile users clicked on the email link, only 4% of retailer websites rewarded the users’ efforts with a mobile friendly or “responsive” website design. iPhone and Android users, however, received a responsive or adaptive design 69% and 68% of the time respectively.

Optimizing for the third screen is a therefore a must!

Stay tuned for more…

This post is work in progress post and will contue to be curated thoughout this week, stay tuned for more…

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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