5 SEO and Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2014

We’ve read a ton of articles with similar titles this week, and it’s completely understandable—people love talking about what’s new and different at the start of every year, and we can’t deny the fun of making predictions. (Next Super Bowl champion, anyone?)

But if we’re being honest, here’s what the next big thing in SEO will be in 2014: nothing.

The days of tricking Google into giving your website a higher ranking are long gone, and the prevalence of social media has created an online environment in which only the most noteworthy, captivating content gets spread.

The bottom line is that SEOs, marketers, advertisers, and everyone else who has something to say online has to step their respective games up if they want to stand out.

That said, however, we couldn’t resist putting together a short list of things that should not be ignored in 2014—nothing revolutionary, just core concepts that will help you provide the most value to your site’s users.
 

mobile optimization

photo via Flickr

1. Mobile Compatibility

We talked about this toward the end of last year, and we expect mobile optimization to continue increasing in importance as a ranking factor through 2014. Responsive web design, in which your website design adjusts itself based on the device or browser being used to view it, is your best bet here.
 
 
compass
photo via Flickr

2. Local Search Optimization

Of the over 12 billion search queries typed into Google every month, 20% are related to location. That means that if your business is in any way location-based (which includes everything from retail stores to law offices), you’re going to want to make your location clear to search engine crawlers and users alike. This is another trend that started brewing long ago, but with so many people searching for businesses on their smartphones while they’re out and about, you’ll be falling behind in 2014 if you don’t at the very least have your Google Places account set up.
 
 
content marketing
photo via Flickr

3. Content Marketing

No matter the direction the Internet and SEO turns in 2014, we can guarantee that content marketing will still be around. The strategies and platforms may shift, but “content” is everything that people read, watch, and listen to online, and those things will always be shared. We suggest continuing to focus on creating content that provides value for your target audience.
 
 
money
photo via Flickr

4. Increased Ad Spending

“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site,” reads a Facebook sales deck, which means that brands are going to have to pay for promoted posts and ads if they want their content to reach a significant amount of people. This, coupled with Google’s move to secure search and the consequent “(not provided)” keyword data, is likely to result in a shift toward spending more on ad spending than on trying to rank organically, but it should not diminish the value of either.
 
 
hummingbird
photo via Flickr

5. Balance of Text and Visuals

Google and its search crawlers love text, but people love visuals; the challenge is to find balance between the two. Google’s Hummingbird update is rewarding websites that provide valuable—not just keyword-rich—answers to users’ questions and the rise of Pinterest is increasing the value of eye-catching imagery, so think about the questions that your target audience would ask and then answer them with a good mix of visual and written content. In the long run, you’ll be better off for it.
 
 
Honorable Mention:

Google+ and Google Authorship

From The Moz Blog: “After Page Authority, a URL’s number of Google +1s is more highly correlated with search rankings than any other factor. In fact, the correlation of Google +1s beat out other well known metrics including linking root domains, Facebook shares, and even keyword usage.”

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