December 02, 2013
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As the New Year looms, it’s a time of reflection here at Mediaworks. Our heads of departments have summarised the major changes to PPC, links and SEO in 2013, and have considered what impact this could have on the future of the digital marketing landscape. Watch out 2014…
In post number two of our three-part series, Marc Swann, Head of SEO, reviews the turbulent year of 2013, and makes his predictions for the SEO trends in 2014.
On many levels, 2013 has been one of the most volatile years in SEO. Making waves were Penguin 2.0, the roll out of ‘100% Not Provided’, iOS6 tracking issues, Hummingbird – the list goes on. Some of these changes have been met with open arms, while others have fuelled data mining sessions and headaches.
Penguin 2.0 wasn’t really a surprise; Google is clamping down very hard on bad practice and it’s good to see. The increased visibility of the Google webspam team is also encouraging and there seems to be an equal balance between assistance and wrist slapping! Penguin brought past-practices to the forefront of campaigns and auditing previous work is arguably the most important part of any new campaign – we’ve likened it to the SEO confession box.
‘Not provided’ has been a challenge for some businesses. The motives behind the changes are certainly up for debate, however, it’s better to look at the positives that arise from the need to adapt – yes, there are positives! Companies are being forced away from focusing too granularly at keyword level and being ushered towards page and section-based reporting. Increased focus on the impact of search on landing pages encourages consideration of engagement and usability, which for some is a mentality change, but can reap many positive rewards from a UX perspective.
Apple’s decision to remove search referral data certainly had some SEOs reaching for the Aspirin, particularly considering the massive growth in mobile search over the last 12 months. Thankfully, the introduction of iOS7 brought some relief, though there are still a large number of iOS6 stalwarts out there, so for now the data mining, modelling and headache medicating must continue.
Hummingbird gives us a glimpse into the future: valuing context over keyword is a fascinating principle but not a surprise move when you look at how the “device” market is evolving. Understanding context is vital when it comes to speech and we’ve witnessed the first steps into spoken search; Google Glass, Mobile Search, Siri and Xbox One all have vocal elements to them. Once again the user, their needs, their behaviours and their motives for search are the point of refocus. From Google’s perspective, this insight allows for a deeper understanding of how users narrow their search, which in turn helps them to hyper-target ads for greater impact.
We’ve seen a shift towards ‘big brand’ SEO over the last few years and this is something that looks to become a permanent fixture. It’s our job as search specialists to understand what is required to be seen as a big brand organically and to convey this to our clients. Tactical, quick-win SEO won’t help build big brand foundations – after all, a house built on the sand will soon collapse – and thus, long-term strategic campaigns are the key to 2014.
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