At the end of the year, it’s easy to look back at some of the biggest events and trends and realize that many things were predictable if one were paying attention to the signs. For example, the way mobile dominated marketing in 2013 came as no surprise to anyone who had been paying attention to the trends over the years. With 2014 days away, there are certain trends that marketers can be prepared for and take advantage of by being an early adopter. Here are three marketing trends to watch for in 2014.
Greater Focus on Quality Content
Recent changes to Google algorithm shows that searches will be geared toward higher quality content that meets the needs of searchers. For example, now that Google Searches include content from Google+ postings as well as hashtag searches, marketers will need to modify their content marketing strategies accordingly. As was discussed in a previous post, Google is also aggressively pursuing websites that use link building tactics that are designed to take advantage of the search engine rather than provide quality content. The point is, through better search options and better enforcement of rules, it is increasingly becoming the case that the only way for websites to have a strong SEO impact is by consistently producing quality content. And since searches are expanding to include things like comments sections and social media, the bar for quality will be raised throughout the internet. Eventually, more and more marketers will reach the same conclusion that they need to focus on the quality of their content for the present and future viability of their SEO efforts.
Multi-Device Optimization will Become Standard on Websites
There’s an old saying that “the more things change the more they stay the same” and it applies to the situation internet marketers will face with mobile optimization. Despite the constant pronouncements that laptops would be the death of PCs, that smartphones would kill the laptop, and that tablets would eliminate everything, the reality has been that each of these devices types have been integrated into society simultaneously. Many people have multiple devices and use them all at one point or another based on their needs at the time. This can be a cause of frustration for marketers and web designers because websites look and act differently based on the device they are viewed on. Rather than wait for the device war to have a clear winner, 2014 will see a shift toward device specific sites that show different sites to depending on the device, or responsive pages that adjusts content based on the size of the screen. This is a better way to handle the issue of multiple devices than trying to pick one format and trying to shoehorn it onto other platforms. Not only does it produce a better experience for the user, it helps the designer in the future when devices change in the future since all they need to do is add a profile for the new device type rather than rebuild the entire website (it may not be in 2014, but one day in the future, web designers will be making pages for smart watches and Google Glass).
World Wide Web Fuels Local Small Businesses
When the internet first began, its main purpose was connecting people who were usually far apart. But now that most people have access to the internet, and most businesses have some representation online in some form or another, the world wide web is increasingly being used for local concerns like finding small businesses and connecting within a community. According to data from Google, more than 20 percent of searches contain references to local information (e.g. location). A report from Relevanza makes it even clearer when it states that 97 percent of all consumers search for local businesses online. To clear up a misconception associated with this statistics, it should be noted that while about 20 percent of Americans homes don’t have internet access, 98 percent of Americans have access to the internet in other forms like public libraries and other free services. So what this means that pretty much everyone who is able to get online in the U.S. is using it at some point to search for local information. Businesses would be foolish to ignore this and marketers can expect to see a push for more location-based and geo-targeted marketing.
With a recovering economy, 2014 should be a year where business owners use their knowledge and foresight to get ahead of their competition. Business owners who invest in their brand now by getting out in front of these trends can establish a competitive advantage that lasts for years. No matter what trends one can see on the horizon, it’s important for business owners to be vigilant so that nothing slips them by.