Google updates its algorithm roughly 500 times per year, so we can expect some significant changes to Google in 2014.
Changes to Google are not uncommon. Very recently, Google completely overhauled their primary algorithm and introduced the world to Hummingbird. In 2014, we won’t necessarily see a move quite as significant (the last time Google implemented such an update was over a decade ago) but we can surely expect to see some changes to Google and the way we, as marketers, should adapt for it.
Focus on Conversation
If we know one thing for certain about Hummingbird, it is that it focuses on the conversational aspect of search. The assumption should no longer be that people are looking for, “Buy black winter hat cheap,” but rather, “Where can I buy a cheap black winter hat?”
The latter is referred to as a ‘soft search’ and this is the direction in which we need to focus our efforts as search and social marketers. Google made it clear when they introduced Hummingbird that it will integrate very heavily with Google’s social layer, which focuses on conversation in Google+ and other social networks.
In 2014, we should expect this focus to increase and optimize our content for these kinds of soft searches as opposed to focusing on keyword density (but that’s nothing new).
Focus on Social (Even More)
Expanding on that point about the social layer, changes to Google in 2014 will surely include an even greater focus on social activity. The reason why Google has transitioned to a soft search approach is because of how many people turn to social media in order to conduct their searches now.
When over 95% of people trust the recommendations made by friends and family, you know they are more likely to quickly post a question (like the winter hat example above) to Facebook while conducting their own research on Google. Considering links on social networks contribute (quite significantly) to improved search rankings – and we can expect that contribution to rise in the coming year – this should continue to be a focus for your brand in 2014.
Focus on Mobile
The world is going mobile. In fact, estimates suggest that by the end of 2013 (so, in other words, now) there will be more mobile devices than there are people on Earth. And by 2017, there will be an estimated 1.4 mobile devices on Earth per person. Suffice it to say that mobile is important.
As mobile devices become smarter and more user-friendly, people will increase their use of their mobile devices and slowly move away from their desktop. Not to mention the fact that in the developing world, mobile devices are much more readily accessible than desktops. One of the major changes to Google in the coming year is going to be an increased focus on mobile.
Ensure that your website, app and all of your content are optimized for mobile in order to ensure that it is easily shareable and discoverable. Over the course of the year, Google will be sure to incorporate mobile readiness into search rankings in a much bigger way.
Focus on Google+
The fact that there are still detractors from the platform is mind-blowing. This is a social network owned an operated by a search giant that openly tells people to focus on social media. What better place to share your content than on that platform’s social network?
Every year, Google+ becomes more important to search. Bit by bit, Google is transforming their business structure to become a more social company. Doesn’t it behoove your brand to be active on the networks they own?
These are just a few of the changes we can expect to come from Google in 2014. What will you do differently? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!