Top 8 SEO Predictions For 2014

By Amy @BubbleJobs

It’s officially that time of the year again: industry prediction time! Yep, over the next few weeks, everyone who’s anyone in the digital marketing industry is guaranteed to pop out of the woodwork to have their say on what they think the ‘next big thing’ might be for PPC, content marketing, SEO and beyond.

Now, here at Bubble, we’re never one to shy away from throwing our two cents in because… well, let’s face it – who doesn’t like to have a punt on what might lie ahead for their niche over the next 12 months or so?

With that in mind, I thought I’d look into my crystal ball to see what I think 2014 might hold for the wonderful world of SEO.

1. The Death Of Guest Blogging:

We’ve known it’s been coming for a while but in 2014 I think Google’s finally going to crack down on low quality guest blogging and guest blogging for link building’s sake. Why? Because with a guest blog you don’t necessarily earn the link out of merit eg. because the webmaster thinks your site is worthy of a link – instead you’re getting it because you’ve given them something in return. It’s no secret that Google thinks you should only get really get links if you’ve ‘earned’ them – and they’ve already given us a pretty big hint they’re not thrilled with the idea of guest blogging by suggesting you “no=follow” your links in your guest blogs.That said, I think we’ll have a major Penguin update in the first three months of the year that’s going to partly target guest blogging (particularly low quality guest blogging on random sites) – so be warned!

prediction2. The Rise Of Authorship:

Now, while I think low quality guest blogging is going to punished, I think Google Authorship is going to become more important as Google works hard to differentiate the good content from the bad. Over the next 12 months, I really think we’re going to start to see digital firms take Authorship and status into account when recruiting for their teams, with candidates who have yet to establish an Author profile, authority and following (think Twitter followers, Google+ Circles) falling short.

3. Schema, Schema, Schema: 

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again – Schema and data mark-up is going to be big news in the next couple of years. As I said in a previous blog, Google’s been pushing data mark-up on us for a while now – but this year they’ve really stepped things up with the introduction of article mark-up and the new Structured Data Markup Helper Tool, so it makes sense that they’re going to place more focus on it going forwards. The important thing to remember about data mark-up is that it gives more information to Google about what your site is about and what each page is about (think an extension to the existing metadata – H1s, metadescriptions etc) – and so it helps Google to rank sites more appropriately. Definitely time to invest if you haven’t already!

4. Power To The Brands:

In 2013 we’ve seen a big power push to brands – and I’m sorry to say it but I think that’s only going to continue in 2014. Why? Because to put it bluntly, brands have the authority (and money!) that smaller independents don’t have so they don’t normally have to go down the more grey/black-hat techniques that the smaller independents have to go down in order to just compete. Fair? Not at all… particularly when you remember the Interflora incident of February this year.

5. Hummingbird-Influenced Content:

In September, Google shocked us by announcing they’d released a brand new algorithm right under our noses – Hummingbird. As you’ll know, the focus of this new algorithm is on relevance, precision and better understanding user intent. That said; I think we’re going to see brands start to push out more and more semantic-influenced content in a bid to capture more traffic and SERP real estate in 2014. I think it’s all going to come down to producing more detailed, long form articles (which incidentally comes back to article mark-up) which answer more long-tail detailed search phrases. The risk? As sites look to produce more content and pages that answer queries, there’s a chance a lot of doorway-style pages could be produced which don’t really contain much/good quality content and that don’t serve that much of a purpose.

6. More Diverse SERPs:

As we already know, Google has been playing around with its SERP results a lot over the past couple of years – with organic results (rightly or wrongly) now appearing further down the organic listings than ever before. In 2014, I think this trend is only going to continue as Google starts to give more real estate to in-depth articles, shopping results and knowledge graph info. That said, with the new focus on mark-up, I think listings which don’t contain any mark-up (jobs, recipes, reviews etc) are going to suffer in terms of CTR because they’re going to look plain in comparison to their all-singing, all-dancing peers.

7. Return To Technical SEO:

Over the past few weeks, Google have been talking more about the more technical elements of SEO and development eg. site speed, mobile optimisation etc – and I think that’s definitely a nod to what’s to come in 2014. I really think that sites which haven’t put a lot of time and effort into their mobile offering are going to suffer – and I also think sites which have lots of crawl errors and have lots of technical issues (think missing page titles, duplicate metadescriptions etc) could come under scrutiny too.

8. More Creative Link Building:

Thanks to Penguin, link building has definitely stepped up a gear in terms of creativity this year – and I think that’s only set to continue in 2014 as link building techniques which are currently working well (guest blogging, infographics, shallow content marketing etc) fall under the glare of Google. My prediction? I think link building might fall more in line with creative PR and Big Data next year as brands start to dig into their data more in a bid to present real, interesting, relevant news and comments that will actually add something to their industry.

So there you go; my top eight SEO predictions for 2014. As ever, I’m keen to hear your thoughts on this one. Do you agree? Or do you think 2014 has something else in store for the world of SEO? Leave me a comment or tweet me – @amy_edwards88.

PS. Don’t forget to come back next week for Lauren’s top social media predictions for 2014.

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