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What’s Google Got in Store for 2014?

Getting or keeping search placement on Google is a fulltime job! In a wonderful and insightful review of what Google has in store for 2014 titled “Future SERP: a Glimpse at Google 2014” by Dr. Peter Myers for the Moz Blog, you’ll learn what he thinks Google has in store. I have to say I think that this is one of the very best articles I have read about what Google is doing for the year ahead.

Here are a few tidbits from the article interspersed with my own insights and experience.

1. Google is focused on mobile. With smartphone use way up, Google’s got to find a way to monetize mobile to continue to build profits. As the mobile user reacts with search differently on their device than when using a desktop, Google is doing strong testing to identify what works and is relevant to mobile users. Expect to see the things that are being tested in mobile move to the desktop arena in the near future. For our clients, this means location specificity in your content and on your website pages is very important as are location extensions used in Google AdWords. Having a mobile responsive designed website is also becoming important and a key algorithm factor for organic placement.

2. Google is expanding the Knowledge Graph using more informational topical content from authoritative websites in their organic search results to answer search questions. Questions about topics cover about 10% of all Google searches. This presents a wonderful opportunity for your own content to place in Google when you or have content on your website that helps to educate or answer a question in your business niche.

3. Google is testing new ad formats that blur the line between organic and paid ads. If you’ve searched recently with your smartphone, you’ve seen some of these new formats. Some are colored the same as the organic results with a small goldenrod colored ad box in front, others are interspersed within the actual organic results. No longer are ads on mobile necessarily at the top or bottom of the page.  It is very important to know that this testing is mainly happening on mobile right now, but will move to the desktop when vetted. One of the big reasons for interspersing ads into the organic results, especially for mobile, is that there are only two ad slots using the old format for mobile – but there are more advertisers!

4. Boxed design with expanded information for the top search result in the organic listings. Google is actively testing these results now.  See the image above, this was taken when I did a recent search for ‘Sushi Bar Chicago’. Although I did not see the box design as noted in Dr. Peter Myers’ article, what I did see was a new black bar across the top with reviews from Google+ Local pages and Zagut (Google’s new review property) plus a large map on the right with points detailed in the search results. The black bar is an eye grabber. This is just another of the new layouts Google is testing that is not even mentioned in the article.

5. Google Now Cards. If you use search on your smartphone, you’ve already seen Google Cards. This is a button/boxed shaped section with personalized information that appears when you open Google mobile to do a search. You can customize these cards and Google also delivers location specific information in these spots based on your actual location. If you are using an Android phone, you’ve also seen that even if you turn Wi-Fi off, Google is turning it back on to know your location at all times to deliver location related content.

6. Utilization of personalized search and information from your Google+ activity. We’ve been seeing this for almost a year now, but take a look at the image above to see how far Google has come on personalized search results and the final layout. With maps and links as well as references to the number of followers from your Google+ page, Google is integrating Google+ Local and your Google+ personal information; delivering content that is truly customized to your past search history and is predictive based on what you have searched for previously based on a deeper understanding of your search query. The key here is relevancy.

This focus on relevancy is the keyword for 2014 in regards to all changes Google is testing and making. By making their search results and ad results more relevant, you will continue to preferentially search on your smartphone and other devices using Google properties.

One of the key takeaways for this article is to now review your own website content. Are you addressing relevancy and helping customers to understand you and what you do transparently? Is your entire Internet focus on creating authority and relevancy for the customer, plus feeding Google the information to classify you and your content appropriately? Are you monitoring your website bounce rate to help Google rate your customer engagement by striving for a low bounce rate (Google will evaluate this to determine your relevancy to search queries)?
If you need a consultant to assist you with a strategic plan to review and then update your online presence, I invite you to visit our website to find out how we can help you position yourself for 2014.

Nancy McCord is the founder and President of McCord Web Services LLC which provides blog writing services, Twitter and Facebook status updates, and Google AdWords account set up and management. Since 2001, Nancy McCord has developed a reputation as an expert on Google AdWords and how to use social networking for business. You can visit Nancy and her firm at Connect with +Nancy McCord at Google+, @mccordweb on Twitter and on Facebook.

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