So with all of the commentary and fuss around Google forcing website owners and SEO’s to up their game in order to gain higher search rankings, what’s in store for web marketing in 2014?
Here at All Things Web, the team have pulled together a few of our predictions on the main areas during 2014 that we believe businesses need to ensure they cover off within their web marketing strategy if they are to succeed.
- Social Media sites such as Facebook will begin to lose advertising revenue from business page owners –especially the ones in the B2B sector who will tire of seeing very few likes and shares of their content.
- Google+ will (begrudgingly) gain ground in terms of business users as they realise the importance of it in promoting their inbound content. The average internet user will still not truly understand the importance of Google+ (author’s note: I forecast it will become part of most smart Internet users’ lives in 2016 unless something comes out before that to usurp it).
- Forums will gain a lot of ground in terms of people returning to these types of sites as they seek more detailed answers to questions (i.e. knowledge). Forums may see significant rankings gains on Google in 2014.
- With Hummingbird in place it is increasingly likely you will need to optimise for people’s questions… though how you find out the right questions (as we rarely see them come up in Google’s Keyword Planner) is beyond my crystal ball right now! Just think “what, why, when, where, how” etc and go from there.
- SEO’s who can’t create online marketing campaigns – and I mean coming up with marketing campaigns with clever, unique content ideas to promote a client rather than just coming up with SEO’d how to lists are going to struggle to get clients ranked.
- Websites that do not offer anything but purely sales content (without any ability to order via an ecommerce section) will have to rely more on PPC to offset any ranking decreases. Websites that offer knowledge, unique content, video, infographics and more will thrive.
- Google will penalise websites who have too many guest post blogs with followed anchor text links. This maybe offset if these blog posts attract +1’s, FB likes and shares or tweets which could help demonstrate quality posts not just vanilla.
- Branded links will become the absolute norm, we saw one such site last year that ranked on the first page of Google for keyword terms and Moz’s Open Site Explorer showed every link they had acquired to be set as branded AND nofollowed. Shame I can’t find it now though!
- Using your client’s username and password to log in and review analytics? Google, with their improvements in location history technology will work to understand if someone is actively sharing their Analytics actual login details – this could be deemed to be in breach and access denied to the user.
- Using your own third party login to access your client’s analytics account to assess traffic data? Then Google will know if you have access to both Adwords and Analytics. If it’s just Analytics (i.e. you don’t provide clients with PPC) then expect to be charged to view client data. It’s a longshot!
- More businesses will discover that Google uses Analytics for its own purposes to gather data and therefore move from GA to other analytical software that’s free (or low cost) to use.
- More businesses will realise that posting links to their content marketing efforts on LinkedIn can be more effective than posting on Facebook or – dare I say it – Twitter. LinkedIn will become the platform in sending greater numbers of traffic to B2B websites.
- Sites that do not offer a mobile friendly version to effectively show on tablets and smartphones will suffer in the rankings (certainly in sectors where their competitors take the steps to invest).
- If you did not already know Google will increasingly want its users NOT to leave its results pages. Don’t believe us? Ok, go search for “UK Weather”, you just need to use the slider Google provides to get a quick forecast for the day. Admittedly it’s not BBC Weather quality but it gives the Google user an answer they need quickly.
- More businesses will begin to adopt Google Adwords and PPC to ensure they are capturing a share of search traffic. even for longtail keyword phrases. More businesses will find PPC is increasingly too expensive and rely even more on content marketing and SEO to send a substantial share of traffic.
- Automated marketing will be increasingly requested by clients – though many won’t understand what it actually is so will be ripe for a new breed of junk marketers to take advantage of with cookie cutter/boiler template marketing <sigh, here we go again>
- Instagram could start to allow nofollow links inside comments, enabling traffic to be sent to websites via images posted on this platform, users will also be given the opportunity to share others IG’s photos to their network. Instagram will begin gamification to encourage users to make their platform a place to hang out more often.
- Online PR sites such as PR Web will increasingly struggle as their influence over rankings is now on the wane. PR will blend with marketing and stories to help create a #RCS ranking signal.
- With the intrusions of the NSA and GCHQ even the average user will begin to surf the web via a Private or incognito browser setting to hide their behaviour and prevent themselves being tracked for remarketing data purposes.
- Google Wildfire will be released as a free version (in a bid to gain greater usage with Google Plus?) with some extra special feature limitations to capture a greater market share of social media marketers.
- A greater number of businesses will realise that #RCS means helping others in the community, genuine PR opportunities, sponsorship of local sports teams, competitions, conference and exhibition attendance – these can all be blogged about and show a “real” marketing signal to Google.
- Rich snippets will only gain greater ground making Google’s job easier with data markup.
- Google Now will be switched off in droves on phones as users realise Google is tracking their movements for their own purposes. Hell, some will resort to calling it Google Nag. People will worry it is too “Big Brother(ish)” when they find that Google can predict what they want before they need it.
- More SEO’s will look to disassociate themselves with the term “SEO” and move to calling themselves “content marketers”.
- Content marketing will rocket, the term SEO will become more synonomous with technical aspects (301’s, structure, 404’s) than with link building. Can only say this is a good thing.
- A number of large SEO agencies will go to the wall, whilst smaller more dynamic web marketing companies will move in to take their place.
We hope you find something of use within our list of predictions for 2014. We will of course be continuing to monitor developments on the web throughout the year to ensure that our clients are kept ahead of the game.
If you need help on understanding how any of these impact your business or web marketing activity contact the team here at All Things Web for some further help and insights.