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Guide to Online Marketing and SEO for 2014

Even though 2014 isn't yet officially upon us, it's a good time to start thinking about your online SEO marketing strategy for 2014, and the coming year. The internet is a constantly changing landscape, and Google has changed the way that their search works with the latest Hummingbird algorithm update. As we have seen before with Panda, and Penguin, there will be updated versions of this algorithm, and those updates will impact search query results. No one can say for sure how Google will change search for 2014, but we can look at 2013 as a guide of where they are looking to improve the quality and relevancy of search results.

The best time to look at your marketing strategy, is before the changes officially take place, saving you the fast paced rush to get your content and quality fixed after you have seen a ranking drop. You can identify the strategies that worked, and those that didn't. I want to share what we believe to be the deciding factors for ranking high in 2014 for your keywords, based upon the data we have gathered.

Predictive Search Gets Even Bigger

Over the past year, you may have heard a lot about the importance of your context, and content of your marketing strategy. This should be a dominant item in every part of your online marketing, from your website, to your choice of CMS or platform, to the timing and voice behind your message. Now that Google's Hummingbird algorithm update is in place and being refined over the next year, you can expect the search engine to be more conversational in the way it communicates with your content and listings. One of the largest focuses of Hummingbird, was to decrease the focus on exact match keyword optimization, while still returning a relevant result. Partial-match keywords, selecting the right topics, and making sure you are targeting the right segment of your market will be more prominent in 2014 then ever before.

“Predictive search” is the company's most ambitious feature to date. Amazingly, it removes the need for a search box altogether. Google's algorithms have been monitoring your activities for the past 12 years and the system can accurately predict where you want to go before you enter it. - Sitepoint

As it gathers more information and data, Google gets smarter at understanding content, and the relationship of real conversations and queries vs. spam, and other ways of distributing content only for marketing purposes. Producing highly relevant and original content should be a large focus of your 2014 marketing strategy, as this will be a major focus of Google for the coming year.

Alternative Keyword Sources. Over the past few months, the internet world has been ablaze with the NSA (National Security Agency) spying on personal search results. The search engines responded to the issue by encrypting personal search results, to protect user data. What this means is; you will be seeing a downward trend of showing your provided keywords in Google Analytics, with a eventual move toward 100% of your incoming traffic keywords as (not provided). As of September 2013, Google was already showing an average of 70% of all search keywords being not provided. Yahoo and Bing were late to the party, with Bing being the last to use secure search for users.

Social Signals, and Relevant Backlinking

One of the major deciding factors of rank in 2013 was social signals, and the indexing/crawling of relevant backlinks. Although backlinking has always been a factor in determining rank and search placement, Google has put a focus on going a bit further to verify a business's information. With some SEO companies creating virtual locations, buying addresses at UPS suites, spinning content and creating multiple fake locations to modify their position, Google certainly has it's work cut out trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Looking More Closely at "Trust Signals". Social media and aggregate sites are going further to implement market segmentation, as targeting, and contextual suggestions for their users. As social media sites make online marketing integration easier, search engines are making changes to their algorithms to better read the information given to them by the social platforms, and use that information to determine the "trust factor" of a business. Google+ is one area where you can clearly see the implementation of this. The activities of a brand or page contribute directly to the increase of their "Author Rank", when using properly structured authorship.

So what to expect? Well, the first thing to expect is that ads will become much more social in nature. You can already see the impact of this with Google+ Post Ads, and Facebook's "Promoted Post" feature. Marketing conversations on social platforms will be more involved in branding, and creating a positive customer experience. People will be making more efforts to research businesses on social media platforms, and looking at real human interactions and conversions to verify the trust factor of a business. This is an interesting way to think of how people validate a business of service provider, especially when you look at the changes in Google's Hummingbird which directly emulate this behavior.

The Explosion of Mobile Search

For people that say mobile is not important in search and rank, think about this; Two-thirds of all American people own a mobile device, and one-third owns a smartphone. The majority of that percentage also own more than one smart device, that allows internet access via wifi or a mobile data connection. With a person having a mobile device on them at all times, making sure that you are optimizing around all aspects of what a user may type will be dominant in 2014. There will be more focus on local optimization efforts, as Google now displays local relevant results even for generic organic searches. This is often a factor of a mobile device having the location feature turned on, allowing the Search Engines to pinpoint where the user is for a better search result. To sum it up, the importance of having a highly optimized smartphone website will be big.

What to Expect in the Mobile Search Market in 2014. First, we expect to see a higher demand for mobile specific development, and mobile-optimized content. Local relevant websites are no longer an option, it's a minimum requirement for your business showing up. Those made with complete mobile functionality and proper optimization will succeed the best. It's a natural progression for Google to accept more mobile content, as the market is growing at such an advanced rate. Within 2013 alone, we saw an increase of mobile searches increase 50-75% over the prior year, with mobile web traffic making up to 1/3 of a sites total traffic. This is expected to increase, as more smartphones continue to propagate the market.

This is only a small hand full of the items we expect to see to be dominant forces in marketing in 2014. For a more comprehensive explanation, please contact us for a free website review, and ranking report tailored to your market. Web Design and Company is an SEO company in St Louis, MO, that focuses on Internet marketing for Saint Louis businesses. 

Posted By David Kley - December 19th, 2013
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