7. Determining what ranks, and why, will be more complicated. Copley Broer, CEO of LandlordStation, expects a lot of time and effort devoted to sorting out what type of sharing and content move the needle for Google rankings now and which don't.
Flipboard, the mobile content aggregation app, is a good example, Broer says. Being indexed into Flipboard's bot so your content pops on Flipboard is important - but it's nearly impossible to tell when readers view your content on Flipboard unless they click through to open it in a browser. "How do you know if Google thinks that content is important if you can't tell how many people are seeing it?" Broer asks. "Does Google's Hummingbird search engine overhaul take Flipboard directly into account, or are you only impacted if someone shares your content from Flipboard to Google+?"
8. In 2014, SEO will be all about mobile. David Finkelstein, director of worldwide marketing for KEMP Technologies, notes that more than 40 percent of emails are now viewed on a mobile device. "Email remains the killer digital marketing app that can ... create the viral marketing effect like no other app," he says. "SEO and associated content optimized for the mobile platform that connects to other apps via open APIs will continue to be the biggest trend, and challenge, to marketers."
Wood, of Wayfair.com, says mobile search is the big shakeup, as it's growing faster that desktop search (which is also growing). "At some point, we can expect Google to start heavily weighting a proper mobile site ... and to weight speed, speed, speed. Ultimately, nonresponsive desktop sites or mobile sites that are only a portion of the site content are a bad user experience, and Google doesn't want to deliver that." Wood doesn't know if the mobile ranking overhaul will come in 2014 - "but when it does, sites without a quality, comprehensive mobile solution are going to be scrambling."
9. Local will continue to be big. Austin Melton, onsite SEO supervisor for SEOSalesPro.com, expects to see Google and Bing continue their trend of localizing search results. "[This] will spell the death of the 'national' search in many verticals," he adds.
10. Natural language queries will be more important. Daniel Sands, digital marketing manager for Walker Sands Communications, says the biggest trend for SEO will be trying to take advantage of Hummingbird, which is less a change to Google's algorithm and change to the engine that drives Google.
Google wants people to be able to "talk" with the search engine the same way they would talk with anyone else, Sands says. Users, meanwhile, want Google to parse sentences and understand their intent. As a result, the focus on individual keywords should fade in lieu of a more keywordtheme approach to content creation. "In other words," he says, "1,000 keyword variations on a theme should be less important, while great content built around the hub of the keyword theme will become more important."
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