Waking Up SEO for 2014
2013 was a year of complete upheaval for SEO. From the introduction of Hummingbird to encrypted search terms, marketers were forced to grapple with a dynamic, continuously changing environment. While 2014 will likely also see its share of updates and enhancements as search engines strive to become more semantic and editorial, marketers can prepare themselves for potential SEO developments through consideration of the trends that are currently driving SEO innovation.
Some of the key factors that will affect organic rankings in 2014 include:
- Decreasing Real Estate – within desktop or mobile results, traditional organic (non-paid) rankings are taking up less space within searchers’ first screen view. Paid advertisements like PLA ads, local results and social results in the right column continue to push organic rankings down the screen.
- Personalization – a searcher’s locale and social connections increasingly influence what they see within organic results. It is important that retailers improve their local presence and expand their network of influence via Google+ and other social networks.
- Social Impacts Organic – aside from personalized organic rankings and annotation of +1s, Wikipedia and Google+ results are served in the right column for many brand searches. Properly leveraging these two sources is essential to controlling and maximizing brand presence within search engine result pages.
- Interplay of Paid and Organic – studies show that, when both paid and organic results for a brand are featured in top positions, brand recall is drastically improved. Further, as organic keyword referrer data from Google is replaced by “keyword not provided”, SEM has come to play a more important role in understanding what drives consumers to a retailer’s website.
- Increasing Importance of Schema – in 2013, we saw schema markup pull information like star ratings and product information forward into search results. As search engines broaden their efforts to truly “understand” the web’s content, the role of schema markup as an organizational framework will continue to rise. Pay particular attention to search engine’s use of Local Organization, Product Offer, Event and Media markup in 2014.
- Content Marketing – traditional on-page methods for achieving organic success have given way to broader themes of content marketing, as factors like editorial quality, bounce rate and user engagement have become better indicators of what’s going to be useful to searchers in retail, mobile and social environments. Focus on helping visitors with content relevant to their place in the sales funnel and organic rankings will follow.
I’m sure (hopeful?) there are factors that will drive SEO in 2014 that I’ve missed. What do you think?