Every year we put together our thoughts on the coming year in Search Marketing. It is always nice to attempt to look into a crystal ball and predict the future. Below are our thoughts for next year and below that is a summary of how our predictions did last year.
Organic Link Building Dies – The concept of link earning or organic link building is a process invented in 2013 that states that you can “earn links” simply by paying an SEO company thousands of dollars to get in with the right bloggers or websites. This is just flat out not true and the concept will not live past the beginning of 2014 as web site owners realize that they are paying to influence “one link” that can likely be removed as fast as a website can go down. No major company is built on “earned links” they are built on “largess” (people link to something because it is interesting or because of the largesse of the brand (i.e. advertising it does offline). The more companies charge for “earned links” the worse their websites will do and it will give “link building” a black eye.
Google Starts Making Google Ads look like Ads – Google will be forced to present Google Adwords listing as Ads in a more prominent way. This will lead to decreased click throughs for Google Adwords.. which will cause Google to insert a 4th paid slot at the top of most search results. The 4th slot will further push down organic rankings and map rankings.
Mobile Rules – This is the year that Mobile Advertising will take off via search. Companies will be even more aware of their local presence online. As most mobile devices just show maps and paid listings.. Google will increase the amount of those shown on devices. People will grow to “expect” ads on their phones as the first listings and further denigrate “mobile organic” as a concept. Most people will use organic search on desktops and laptops.. which will further make It the main traffic source for online shopping as opposed to local services.
Social Media as a business model will decrease – The overall “newness” of Social Media has begun to wear off. Businesses are going to start asking what exactly Social is doing for their bottom line. People will start looking for more useful exposure through social media. While the Social Media channels themselves start to shrink due to increase use of “mobile social” apps.
Meaningful Content will be king – Content will return to the forefront as site owners begin to see their real return from SEO is long tail searches. This will lead to an increase in content on websites that is helpful and engaging.
How did we do last year?
Domain Age becomes less and less important – Yes this has happened and continues to happen.. as SERPS are coming up for domains barely a month old that trump domains that have been established for decades.
Old links will become less important. – This is correct as linking profiles have matured quite a bit in 2013. Older links targeting keywords on some sites have become useless. Since older links are more likely to target “keyword links” they have become less useful to Google.
Sites will abandon SEO for Google Adwords. – Of all predictions this one is the most painful for how it has been coming true in 2013. Many sites after various issues have begun to throw in the towel for SEO and just pour money into Google Adwords. Although both are good investments.. SEO is a better long term investment for a website.
Press Releases will start to become the new “directories”. – This was a prediction that basically said site owners would begin to over use Press Releases in the same way many overuse directories.. causing Google to de-value Press Release links.. which is exactly what happened in 2013.
Author Rank will take off because people enjoy seeing their own picture in Google searches – Of all the predictions this one was the weakest.. because Author Rank has been mainly dominated by “experts” who enjoy writing. This has not been as much of a watershed as Google might have hoped for.. although we are seeing quite a few pictures on our search results.
Google hits its high water mark in 2013. – This has yet to be seen if it is true or not. The NSA Scandal didn’t seem to hurt Google.. neither has its endless tweaking of its algorithm. So it is hard to determine if this was Google’s top year. It does not seem that their efforts into other technologies are being met as well as their search engine was. (google glass, robots, chromebook)