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4 Spot-On Predictions for SEO in 2014 that Have Already Happened

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At the beginning of each year, SEO’s predict the new changes we’ll see to the search landscape. Most of the time these predictions are way off the mark or too vague to validate. Sometimes, however, their foresight is spot-on. Let’s look at four predictions for SEO in 2014 that have come to fruition less than two month into the new year.

“Google Will Publicly Acknowledge Algorithmic Updates Targeting Guest Posting”
Rand Fishkin

Well, that didn’t take too long. Just 15 days after Rand published his 2014 SEO predictions, Matt Cutts came forward with the infamous blog post titled “The decay and fall of guest blogging for SEO.” SEO’s everywhere went into panic mode.

While Cutts did not specify that any algorithm updates have taken place (and many question the feasibility of algorithmically devaluing links based on the perceived legitimacy of a guest post), we will all think twice before taking on a guest blogging opportunity.

“We Will See Significant Additions in Natural Language Search Capability”
Eric Enge

We’ve seen evidence of Google improving its natural language (type “restaurants around here” for a quick example), especially since the release of Hummingbird. While this will continue to improve, they are also focusing on predictive search.

Google Now is Google’s mobile voice assistant and the counterpart to Apple’s Siri. Now uses natural language processing to execute commands, answer questions and even provide predictive information.

Earlier this month, Google released the ability to receive Now notifications to Chrome beta on your desktop device. You’ll be updated on the score of the game, the status of your shipment, and the traffic on the way home from work minutes before you leave. Your desktop browser will be able to decide which information to provide based on activity from your mobile device.

Google has also released a new version of the Google Now launcher for the Nexus 5, which is rumored to be available to all Android devices soon. Google is getting better at understand language and behavior to improve search results.

“Resumes Listing ‘Content Marketing‘ Will Grow Faster than Either ‘SEO’ or ‘Social Media Marketing‘”
Rand Fishkin

Starting off the new year on a hot streak, Rand also predicted that number of LinkedIn users who will add “content marketing” to their resumes will grow at a rate 50% greater than that of “social media marketing” and “SEO.” Rand observed the following data points by doing a keyword search on LinkedIn.

content marketing 81, 529 profiles
social media marketing 2,767,263 profiles
SEO 1,268,195 profiles

I ran the same search roughly 5 weeks after Rand and pulled the following data.

content marketing 87,278 profiles (7.05% increase)
social media marketing 2,882,281 profiles (4.16% increase)
SEO 1,308,530 profiles (3.18% increase)

As of this time of writing, “content marketing” is being added to resumes at rate that is 70% greater than “social media marketing” and 122% greater than “SEO”. If this trend holds, and I believe it will, the term “content marketing” will be part of our industry lexicon for a long time to come.

“New Measures [Will Be] Taken to Keep Semantic Markup from being Abused.”
Ruth Burr

The Moz team should buy some lottery tickets. Ruth Burr, their Inbound Marketing Lead, made the prediction a month before webmasters began noticing a new-looking structured markup penalty in WMT.

Spammy structured markup

Markup on some pages on this site appears to use techniques such as marking up content that is invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content, and/or other manipulative behavior that violates Google’s Rich Snippet Quality guidelines.

Google is committed to protecting the integrity of Schema markup as they undoubtedly continue to roll out new features in 2014.

Do you know of any predictions for SEO in 2014 that have already materialized? Send them my way and they’ll be added to the list.

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Griffin Roer

Griffin Roer heads up Snap's strategy development team.

  • Ryan C

    The guest posting thing really needs to be explained to people more. Yes it is dead for SEO but it is still has amazing PR capabilities. Think about it like a newpaper. If the newspaper goes out to 100,000 people, that’s a lot of people to get in front of. But, a newspaper has no SEO value. I would still love to be in the newspaper any day! Same with guest posting for a great blog. Getting in front of a large audience with a great message will help grow your site/blog immensely (assuming you DO have something smart to say!).

    • Griffin Roer

      This is exactly why many SEO’s question an algorithm’s ability to decipher between legitimate PR opportunities and spammy SEO tactics.

      Plus, SEO and PR are converging. In order for a website to be successful in today’s SERP’s, you need quality backlinks that lend you credibility. A great way to attract these quality backlinks is through creation of valuable content, relationship-building, and outreach – all pillars of good PR.

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  • Griffin, thanks for the update. Funny to mention it, our Director asked me last week about updating job titles for myself and the rest of the team, and the short list of ideas included “content marketing” or “content development” and less emphasis on search optimization.

    The spammy markup penalty was surprising to me, as I figured the most we’d see this soon is just a higher barrier to qualify for the enhanced snippet, or search engines choosing not to enhance the display, not a full-on manual penalty as indicated.

    Always fun times to be in an evolving industry.

    • Griffin Roer

      Some folks are speculating that as content continues to grow as the focus of online marketing, “SEO” will only be associated with the on-page optimization. Others are going so far to say that “SEO” will become synonymous with spammy techniques, while we shift to using “content marketing” as its replacement.

      Google looks committed keep rich snippets legitimate. While I haven’t seen any evidence yet that schema markup improves search rank, I don’t think we’re too far off from seeing a case study that proves that point.

  • I am already a moz readers so i know most of the predication but do not about structured markup penalty, Thanks for sharing it.

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