2013 was an interesting, yet tumultuous year for any companies providing or relying on SEO/SEM services for their businesses websites, due to the vast amount of significant Google algorithm updates, including most notably the Hummingbird updates, which were applied from August 30 to about September 26 of 2013. Other significant Search Engine Marketing trends of 2013-2014 include: the increase in the popularity of content marketing; explosion of mobile user growth and online shopping; rise in popularity of Online Audience Optimization, as well as several other interesting Search Engine Marketing trends, which will be talked about in greater detail in the article that follows.
1) Rising Popularity And Necessity Of Content Marketing
In 2013 Content Marketing for SEO’s seemed to have reached its maturity, due mainly to Google’s latest Hummingbird updates that took place from August 30 to September 27, which marked the 15th anniversary of Google. And in turn, the Hummingbird updates have forced SEO’s to take content seriously when embarking on a new SEO job. In particular the Hummingbird updates to Google’s search algorithm allowed Google to grasp the meaning of search queries in their contextual situation. Thus, keywords are no longer the main focus of SEO, but SEO’s also need to focus on providing focused and relevant content on webpages.
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In addition, longer in-depth articles have become more relevant and valuable for SEO, rather than shorter blog articles and content pieces, due to the new “in-depth articles” feature on Google. In fact as Navneet Kaushal (2014) points out, 10% of Google searches are for generic, in-depth articles.
2) Online Audience Optimization (OAO) Has Become Mainstream
As Kaushal (2013) states: “Online Audience Optimization (OAO) pairs both traditional user-friendly SEO techniques and high quality content with branding, social media and engagement mechanics for optimizing targeted and loyal audiences”. Moreover, OAO involves developing and using smart content to target your audience via search engines, social networks, blogs and articles. Thus, OAO is definitely a highly useful SEM trend that has quickly gained popularity in the last year or two and will continue to do so in 2014.
3) Explosive Growth of Mobile and Online Shopping
An August 2013 Mashable survey found that global mobile traffic has increased 17.4% over the past year, compared to just 11.1% in 2012. Thus, as more and more people in the world use mobile devices, it will be crucial for businesses to optimize their websites for mobile devices based on the latest web development standards, such as HTML5, CSS3 and responsive web design frameworks.
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Exponential Online Shopping Growth
In terms of online shopping, Cyber Monday sales increased by 17% from 2012 with 1.74 billion U.S. in sales. And this trend of exponential online shopping sales growth will likely increase significantly in 2014 the more people purchase mobile devices and use them to purchase consumer goods online. In addition, Google Shopping and Google Product Listing Ads will likely result in a significant increase in online e-commerce businesses using these ads and thus, in turn will result in a significant increase of rates for CPM advertising.
4) Increase in Demand & Competition For Local SEO Services and Google Search Listings
Demand for Local SEO will increase significantly in 2014, due to Google users searching more for local businesses. For instance, according to Google Places Facts and Stats 20% of Google search queries are related to location and 56% of mobile phone users utilize their phones to search for local businesses. Another major driver of local SEO services and searches is the introduction of Google + Local and Google Carousel. Moreover, the rise of Google + Local will likely significantly drive up the cost of CTR’s for local ads.
5) Greater Need For Authority Of Website Author And Social Media Profiles
In 2014 there will be a greater need for increasing your website’s authority, which will not only lead to a better SERP ranking on Google and other main search engines, such as Yahoo!, but will also help increase your customer/fan base. Also social media authority will continue to be absolutely crucial in 2014 for increasing brand awareness and reach, since social media authority also significantly affects your website’s Google search rankings. However, you should also focus on creating authentic and credible content for your website and social media profiles to increase your reach.
6) Not Provided Keywords And Data Will Determine The Success Of Your Online Marketing Strategy
This is due to the fact that all Google searches can now be made private, and in turn, more and more keywords will show up as “not provided” on your website’s Google Analytics account report graphs. In fact, according to Kaushal (2014) we should expect around 80% of our keyword data on Google Analytics to display as “not provided” in 2014.
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Nonetheless, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics will continue to provide a useful gauge of website owners’ page level metrics, engagements and conversions. Thus, in turn businesses will move towards more content-based, page-centric SEO marketing strategies, rather than mainly keyword-based SEO strategies.
7) Ever Evolving Google Search
Although there were more major changes to the Google Search algorithm in 2012 (i.e. 37), compared to about 25 major Google Search algorithm updates in 2013, some of the most significant algorithm updates in the past three years occurred, including: the Hummingbird updates and Penguin updates, that occur about once every quarter and aim to filter out Black Hat SEO strategies, such as creating fake spam back-links to boost the rankings of one’s website on Google. For instance, most recently Rapgenius.com was banned from Google for 10 days from partaking in similar Black Hat SEO practices.
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Well it sure looks like 2014 could be an interesting year for SEO and SEM, as Google always seems to have some interesting tricks up its sleeves to make Google Search a more intelligent, spam-free and human-friendly search environment. Not to mention some of the other trends that I mentioned that will likely occur in the next year, including: the increasing exponential growth of mobile devices and its effect on e-commerce shopping trends; as well as the rise of Online Audience Optimization and the competition for local SEO business and advertising.