searchmetrics email facebook github gplus instagram linkedin phone rss twitter whatsapp youtube arrow-right chevron-up chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right clock close menu search

SEO Predictions for the year 2014

As we begin 2014, it’s the perfect time for SEOs and marketers to reflect on the successes and failures of the previous year, and to make SEO predictions for the year ahead. As shown by the Mayans though, it can be difficult to accurately predict future events. Google is notoriously unpredictable as they are at the forefront of technological innovation, and there is usually no warning prior to algorithm updates.  However, those who have been involved in the SEO industry for long enough should already have a fair idea of what to expect from Google, and below are my predictions on what we might expect this year.

1. Fewer announced updates from Google

Google already warned us earlier in the year that updates like the Penguin and Panda are more likely to be included as part of the general algorithm refreshes, and if you visit webmaster forums like Webmaster World, then it’s common to read about site owners reporting huge fluctuations without any official word on algorithm updates. Last year saw the birth of the all-encompassing Hummingbird update, so it seems less likely that minor algorithm updates will be officially announced (although it’s likely that notifications of major updates will continue to occur).

I imagine that Google is tired of having to constantly remind webmasters of the issues with black hat link building tactics and low quality content, and with all the updates that they have made regarding both Penguin and Panda over the last couple of years, it’s more likely that they will make small unannounced amendments and regular algorithm refreshes.

Tip: Don’t toe the line with Google: make sure your link-building does not contradict their webmaster guidelines and try to keep up to date on search changes by following key profiles like @rustybrick on Twitter.

2. Bigger, more in-depth content

Big Content’ is a term seemingly coined by Dr Peter J Meyers of Moz fame, and although he described it as a ‘vague… useless term’, my personal opinion is that it is the perfect way to describe top-notch online posts. My second prediction therefore, is that marketers will look for increasingly inventive ways to break content moulds and improve upon ‘big content’ with even bigger content. Having good content simply isn’t enough to rank anymore, so it seems plausible that we could witness types of content not previously seen, or perhaps done in more innovative ways in order to gain widespread visibility (like the rise of infographics as a marketing tool, for example).

It’s not uncommon to see high quality, well-ranking posts which are merely 500 words in length, but moving forward I think it’s likely that longer posts of 2000+ words may gain more value in search due to the increased amount of information they provide (and perhaps even an increased importance of content relative to links). What I’m expecting to see is more instances of content not just as newsworthy pieces of information, but as universal industry resources that others will keep referring and linking back to i.e. more linkable assets, as opposed to link-bait.

Tip: Put a great deal of time, effort and research into content where possible, and perhaps bounce ideas off colleagues to get a more in-depth, collaborative article. Try to pursue an angle not covered elsewhere online, and if big content isn’t an option, try to create a series of small articles covering one topic in detail to pique users’ interest.

3. Social Authority influencing rankings

It has been debated to death by SEOs whether or not social shares are good for anything other than traffic and visibility. Data collected by MOZ earlier in the year though confirmed that the general consensus among the top search marketers is that social interaction is a huge ranking factor, particularly with Google +1s.

Social Authority Influencing rankings

However, traditionally search engines have not respected social media as much as links, because likes/shares are much simpler to attain. Evidently though, more shares leads to more traffic and greater visibility, so if a high volume of people are visiting a page then Google will have to take notice of its relevance for that particular topic. With that in mind, high profile Twitter profiles like Piers Morgan, Justin Bieber etc. will surely improve the rankings of any site that they decide to share on their feed.

Google+ used to be used primarily by marketers who wanted to utilise the rel=author tag, but it is now attracting a much wider, non-professional audience. Although the official numbers of Google+ users is very high, I imagine that most of the accounts lie dormant as anyone with a Gmail/Youtube account will automatically own a Google + account, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they use it. So I imagine there will be more +1s of non-marketing related content moving forward too.

Tip: Interact with and follow relevant accounts in your industry, and regularly tweet about interesting industry-specific news and articles to gauge users’ interest in your niche.

4. The end of SEOs using a high volume of exact match keywords

It seems that Google can’t make their message any clearer – the harder you try to rank for specific keywords through this style of linking, the more likely you are to fail, or worse get penalised. There are some articles online which suggest it shouldn’t be completely forgotten about, but I can’t think of too many ways in which this could appear to be natural.

Content links you will now see online tend to be part of longer sentence structures and not specific keywords only, which in turn should make articles appear to be more natural for both the reader and search engine.

Tip: Focus on your onsite relevancy for keywords first and foremost, use predominantly branded/URL anchor text links in your strategy, and encompass other words in the sentence surrounding your keywords when creating non-branded anchor text links.

5. Increased reliance on mobile optimisation

This is something that often gets predicted for SEO, but my personal feeling is that this year will be THE year that we see mobile optimisation techniques start to dominate the industry. The way that people interact with the internet has changed dramatically over the last 5 years in line with a surge in the smartphone market and mobile data speeds. As a result, many people now spend more time browsing the internet via their mobile device compared to their desktop, so it’s become increasingly important for sites to optimise for all devices. Google has always focused on design and usability, so having a site which can be appealing across multiple platforms is likely to put you in their good books.

Tip: Check Google Analytics to see if much traffic comes to your site via mobile devices to determine if your site needs to be optimised for mobile or not. If you are a local business, ensure your business is set up on Google+ local to get listed on Google Maps – often people will search for specific local services when they’re out and about. Make sure your site design is responsive and has easily accessible contact details/online order forms.

Regardless of what the future holds for SEO, one thing that’s certain is that Google is constantly evolving, improving, and innovating, and it’s paramount that any online marketing strategy has the ability to adapt in line with search industry updates.

Author Bio:

Jonny Lis is a Digital Marketing Manager for Smart Traffic. He manages the outreach department, blogs both professionally and personally, and is an expert in link removal for Penguin-affected sites. Outside of the office he has a keen interest in football, live music, traveling and is a self-confessed fitness fanatic. Catch him on Twitter and check out his blog.

Jonny Lis

Jonny Lis

27 thoughts on “SEO Predictions for the year 2014

  • Became impossible to understand Google

  • Spot on predictions, Jonny!

  • Hi Sam,

    I don’t think it’s necessarily ‘impossible’ to understand Google – if you mean the algorithm specifically, then it’s certainly complicated but generally those that are knowledgeable in SEO will know what it takes for a site to rank well, although that doesn’t make it any easier as it still takes time and effort, but it’s not impossible.

  • Two good things that are happening for content writers and genuine SEO experts are the long form articles and blog posts, and authority rank. It is difficult to manipulate these traits by unfair means. For instance it’s very easy to churn out smaller articles without paying scant regard to quality, but if quality as well as the length of the articles are going to play an important role in one’s search engine rankings, only people who can really deliver will be able to show some results.

    I’m not saying that you should specifically create content to make Google happy (there are many more ways you can generate quality traffic) but if you want to do some work in this arena, research-based bigger content and authority rank are the two activities one should take seriously.

  • We often heard of google panda penguin and hummingbird. Do Yahoo or Bing have such algorithm to check bad seo too?

  • Glenn D. Bearsky 2014/02/11 at 6:32 am

    I’m finding deep, in-depth content far easier to generate using (in my case) Apple Dictation speech recognition services. Anyone can speak more easily about their expertise than they can type it. The nature and tone of your content shifts, often for the better to a much more conversational style. And one tends not to speak from such a keyword stuffing mental framework that typing often leads to. It’s a worthwhile alternative to conventional blogging and article writing for lengthy ‘Big Content’ pieces.

  • They have their own algorithm yes, but it’s very different from Google’s and less judgmental in terms of backlinks and onsite factors. However fewer people use it, so ranking highly in Yahoo and Bing is generally considered less important, although shouldn’t be completely overlooked as Bing and Yahoo count for roughly 30% of US searches collectively.

  • Ouch, all of these updates. I guess that the only thing you can do now is create high quality content and make seo obsolete. Right???

  • I think SEO will be a bumpy ride in 2014 because I’ve noticed that Google became even more coocoo. It messes up your titles worst than before; it’s indexing all the possible strange links/pages (mostly from plugins and stuff) that might have escaped your attention, and then downgrades you; even if you block stuff in your robots.txt it’s still indexing them; if you go into the Webmaster Tools it shows that you are ranking on the first page for certain keywords, but if you do a search you’ll find your site on the 4th or 5th page; and the list can go on.
    In my opinion Google is worst than never know. I don’t know if I’m the only one experiencing this but…
    On paper, the changes made by them sound good to me, but when it comes to applying them….they still have work to do.

  • High quality content is a must, but I don’t think SEO will ever be ‘obsolete’ – as long as Google bases search rankings on multiple factors, then there will always be ways to optimize sites.

  • too much importance to social networks, thanks for the post!

  • Quality content and social strategy are the top factors for SEO.

  • i think there’s gonna be a small change in video search, like they’ll be able to indexed / figure out what certain video talks about

  • True as all that is, I still think that anchor text is not dead.

  • Naveen | Best Kettles 2014/05/01 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Jonny,

    Nice post. Interesting to see Google plus still dominates social sharing though Google tends to ditch it as per its recent post.

  • They will, for sure, try to focus more on content. I think Matt Cutts said that backlinks will still have power for some time, but they are trying to focus more and more on content, which I think is a good idea because a lot of people are generating great content but they don’t rank because they lack backlinks.

    Don’t know what to think about social media impact. Cutts said that they take social media into consideration, then he said they don’t…Either way, it’s still useful and important.

    Exact match keywords are very dangerous these days. Read an article about someone who ended up with his site at the bottom of the sack just for one backlink that contain exact match keywords. I think this is really stupid from Google’s part…if one or more people link to you with exact match keywords, you get hit by Penguin. Then you have to mail the webmasters to take out the links, and if they don’t, you have to disavow them. All this takes a lot of time, not to mention the time it takes for a site to recover and come back up on rankings. Some have online businesses, and their day-to-day life depends on their site. Hope Google finds a solution to this issue.

  • The prediction for 2014 is more penalties and more algorithm…

  • My SEO 2014 predictions are the following:
    1. Google authorship more important.
    2. Businesses to realize social media key role in referral traffic and content distribution.
    3. The term ‘SEO’ replaced with ‘content marketing’.
    4. SEO more difficult and thus more costly.

  • continuously i used to read smaller content that also clear their motive,
    and that is also happening with this piece of writing
    which I am reading now.

  • Sonny – yes that’s true, exact match keywords have been causing issues for webmasters for a while, and there is certainly an increased focus on the importance of content this year since the most recent Panda update.

    Paula – Google authorship’s importance is debatable, as recently they have removed pictures and circle counts from Google’s search pages.

    Despite that, the author names still appear in results and many people still believe that authorship will have some influence on rankings moving forward, so that leading authors appear near the top of the results even if they write for lesser known sites.

    Regarding your third point, content is only one factor of SEO – other onsite factors are still very important for both crawl bots and UX, and for the foreseeable future, links matter. So I don’t think ‘SEO’ as a term will ever become irrelevant.

  • Excellent article! We will be linking to this particularly geat articcle on our site.
    Keepp up the goopd writing.

  • 2014 was the hardest year for seo since there was about 13 major changes in seo algorithms. in 2015 hope it will not be this much..

  • fun reading the predictions for 14 now that it is coming to a close.

    @Paula authorship completely removed now. Social media is definitely becoming more important now though.

  • I would add one important thing to the SEO 2015 predictions: the importance of mobile devices. Just as it is with the web design – the sites that do not run great on mobile devices, smartphones etc. often fail to be noticed by the broader audience. I bet Google will put A LOT MORE emphasis on mobile devices this year.

  • How about the anchor texts?

    According to many experts 2015 will be a big blow to anchor texts – let’s not fool ourselves – when we have nicely prepared text with – often colored and underlined – anchor phrase, most of the readers, especially those who have at least slim knowledge of SEO and its tactics become suspicious…After all, if the text has anchors, does it really provide you with authentic and useful info or has it just been made to obtain links?

    I believe that anchors will be one of the main focus of Google in 2015.

  • -Content Marketing more important.
    -SEO costs rise.
    -Social Media as one of key factors.

  • its Sept 2016 now and number 1 was spot on with Google now having its last major SEO update…. Also point 3 with social media is still being hotly debated, however I think everyone knows it will become a ranking signal if not… the ranking signal……

    Mobile is key though..

Write a Comment

Note: If you enter something other than a name here (such as a keyword), or if your entry seems to have been made for commercial or advertising purposes, we reserve the right to delete or edit your comment. So please only post genuine comments here!

Also, please note that, with the submission of your comment, you allow your data to be stored by To enable comments to be reviewed and to prevent abuse, this website stores the name, email address, comment text, and the IP address and timestamp of your comment. The comments can be deleted at any time. Detailed information can be found in our privacy statement.