2014 is swiftly approaching and 2013 was a huge year for marketers everywhere. We saw numerous changes in the social media world and low quality service providers where all hit where it hurts. No one can 100% accurately predict the future, but here are some good guesses on what the future holds for SEO in 2014 based on the facts.
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Quality Content Will Be More Important Than Ever
SEO Professionals and content authors across the board have been preaching that quality is the king of the web for years now. However, as we pass another year and 2014 swiftly approaches, there are still a lot of people out there trying to fool the search engines and trying to pass off low quality content to rank high for a specific set of keywords.
Why is it becoming more relevant to have high quality content?
Google is slowly moving further and further away from the idea of ranking based on keywords altogether.
Not just for SEO purposes, but engaging content that interacts with your customers will make far more sales than quickly sprouted content that serves the purpose of just filling the page up.
Being a credible source is a huge selling point and the most surefire way to do that is to put out content that people actually want to read. Google knows this and every professional marketer knows this, but yet so many people still think Quantity > Quality.
As more and more Google algorithms roll out and you can rest assured more are around the corner, they're starting to focus a lot more on how engaging content is for visitors and author credibility.
A Social Media And Mobile Marketing Strategy Will Be A Must Have
If your website is currently optimized for mobile devices, then here are some facts that might alarm you.
- Did you know that 91% of adults in America own a mobile phone?
- 56% of all adults in America own Smartphone devices.
- Did you know that websites like Amazon and Facebook count mobile traffic as 1/5th of their overall traffic? 63% of mobile phone owners are currently using their mobile device for internet access.
- People aren't primarily using their mobile device to access the internet when they're away from home. As a matter of fact, 77% of all mobile searches are conducted from a person's work or residence.
What Does This Mean For You?
If you don't have a social marketing strategy and mobile website design in place, you could be losing out on a lot of customers. When people visit a website, studies have shown that you have three seconds to attract their attention before they exit and search for a new website.
With so many people utilizing mobile phones as their access point for social media, you need to make sure that you have social media outlets in place and that you have a website suited for the mobile devices. These numbers are only going to grow in 2014 as using a phone to access the internet for information becomes more mainstream.
Link Building With Google+ Will Be Relevant
One of the most common myths by 'blackhat' and newbie internet marketers is that the more links the better. You see it all the time on cheap freelancing sites like Fiverr, where some guy is offering you 10,000 Wiki links or 100 PR4 links on relevant blogs for $5. What are you really getting from that?
Basically, these people are sending your links to link farms (assuming they're doing your job at all for $5) or they're placing your link in a cesspool of other links with other people hoping it'll increase their rank.
Google has taken a new direction when it comes to link building and how it judges a link's importance.
These are especially important to keep tabs on, because a broken link leads to no content and Google wants to ensure the best available experience for a website's visitors.
There are some mixed feelings out there about this but Google Plus will matter a lot more than it already does in the upcoming year. This is because when quality content is shared on Google Plus, it could be shared again, and again and again. To no surprise, Google is weighing links shared on their own social network heavily and in the year 2014, from what we've seen so far, Google Plus will become relevant.
Of course, this is assuming that you're keeping in practice with high quality SEO standards and you're not plastering the internet with crap quality content.
Facebook's Adult Audience Will Grow While The Younger Crowd Decreases
When I tried to predict the future of Facebook years ago, at no point did I ever think that Facebook would have a decrease in young users. While the social networking giant is growing in revenue (with almost 50% of that revenue being from mobile users), the number of young teenagers is steadily decreasing.
Why is this?
Change - Some people don't like change and when you're dealing with the attention span of young teenagers, Facebook throws out so many rapid updates, that it's hard to keep up with and keep interest in.
Communication - More and more adults are using it as their main means of communication and keeping track of their kids. It's not uncommon now to see your mother and even your Grandmother on Facebook. I've even seen pages set up for household pets on Facebook (don't ask me why, I have no idea).
So what does this mean for you? The good news is, that Facebook Mobile revenue is increasing and the opportunity for a market is growing steadily as well. You'll just have to think on larger terms with what adults want to see and you will more than likely see less ads for games that appeal to the young demographic.
Where Are They Going?
This brings up the question, where exactly are the young teenagers going? The most popular theory out right now is that they're utilizing services like Instagram and Snapchat more frequently. Both of these services allow people to communicate using just a line of text or through pictures.
Let's face it, the attention span of teenagers isn't exactly great so these sites are perfectly set up and tailored to them. They're made for laziness and ease.
Your Website Will Have To Be Optimized For Mobile
While mobile device usage is on the rise and the number of people utilizing handheld devices is also on the rise, you could be risking not only customers but your SEO rankings without a working mobile website.
When a user visits your website on a mobile device (and your website isn't setup for mobile), they'll see your website exactly as it is on a PC but they'll have to scroll across the page. This is not ideal and Google knows how easy it is these days to setup a mobile version of a website.
There are essentially two ways you can go about doing this: You can either make your website what's known as (responsive) or you can actually have an interface developed for mobile usage. The responsive route may be cheaper but it may not look the best on all websites.
Blackhat Marketing Will Finally Be Put To An End
Google Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird with their powers combined are laying the smackdown on the Blackhat community as a whole. Go to any Blackhat forum and you can hear their outcries on the forums.
How Google Is Bringing The Pain
- One of the major changes planned for 2014 is Google wants to focus more on the 'topic' of the content rather than the keyword. Having a centralized keyword algorithm is far too easy to exploit and Google knows this. It has gotten way better at detecting exploits and dealing with them but there's still a long way to go and I don't think you can ever truly eliminate the exploitation of a keyword based system.
- Linking schemes are finally being buried and their funeral won't be cheap. There are still people out there trying to sell shady link schemes and 'linking partners' for cheap that believe they can bolster rankings.
- Defining content is being praised while crap content is being thrown away. People who utilize 'content spinning services' continue to plaster the internet with spun content and Google has taken notice. They've done a considerable amount of damage to these people already but in 2014, a lot of changes are already planned to try to put the nail into the coffin.
- Almost 8 out of every 10 Americans utilize the internet or go online.
- Almost 3 out of every 4 Americans utilize social networking such as Twitter or Facebook.
- The social landscape of SEO is changing drastically with quality content providers being at the forefront. It's not a hard concept to adapt to but you need to be prepared for 2014 and you need to make sure that you're providing the correct analytics in place to not only engage your audience but to tell where they're coming from as well.
Example: If you're website is about teaching people the pros of synthetic grass rather than homegrown, they're going to want to learn all the details. They didn't come there to be won over by a sales page or by spun garbage, they only want to hear the nitty gritty of why they found you in the first place. Users search for certain terms to solve a problem, not to be sold things or to help build backlinks to your website.
Google will be watching over you and hopefully you're on their good side when they roll the new changes out. Stay true to your readers and your customers and Google will be good to you. It's been said a million times, but it needs to be said again: Quality is and always will be, King.