Digital Marketing

2014 SEO predictions: Prepare for the evolution of PAND-GUIN-BIRD


2013 proved to be the year of where keyword data died, the knowledge graph exploded, and link building became a bad word. With major algorithm updates like Penguin and Panda rolling out constantly and brand new algorithms like Hummingbird in full force, digital marketing has truly changed forever. Here’s a look into what you can expect from Google along with which strategies can help your site be successful in the New Year.

Mobile Optimization will become more important than ever

Every single one of my ecommerce clients’ mobile traffic and revenue increased compared to last year. This makes sense considering recent statistics regarding user behavior on tablets and smartphones.
According to one of Google’s recent research studies, 73% of all searches on a tablet or phone triggered additional actions and conversions. With the smartphone revolution only growing stronger, it’s no surprise that Google’s next target would be mobile. In 2014, we can fully expect Matt Cutts’ warning about future penalties to sites that are not mobile-friendly to become a harsh reality.
To prepare your site for these changes, it’s essential to always keep in mind that speed and convenience are the main drivers of mobile searches. The first rule to mobile optimization is user-friendly design. Google favors responsive web design over mobile-only sites and page load speeds of less than one second for above the fold content. Developing your mobile site using the right design and infrastructure helps ensure faster page loads and more conversions with as little clicking and scrolling as possible. Another key element to mobile optimization is developing a content strategy for the mobile experience, not SEO. This means keeping your site’s textual content simple, concise, and easy-to-digest.

Expect more enhancements to the search engine result pages

Back in July, Google’s search queries with Knowledge Graph (KG) entries increased over 50% across the MozCast data set. With more and more SERP real estate being taken up with KG entries, this trend will most likely continue in 2014. Currently, Google’s Knowledge Graph is fueled by high authority public sources like Wikipedia, CIA World Factbook, and Freebase. Google loves KG simply because it prevents users from ever leaving Google.
That’s why I believe that in 2014, the Knowledge Graph will expand its number of public sources and answer boxes. I’ve personally already started seeing this happen recently. Shown below, you can see wine-specific clubs appear in both the Knowledge Graph and Google Shopping for the generic search term “monthly clubs”. The intent of the query was to find a of the month club that offers multiple memberships, yet Google chose to show me only wine clubs, giving big brands and PPC spenders an unfair advantage.
monthly clubs serp
Search engine result page (SERP) enhancements will especially affect small businesses and will force them to adapt from their old-school strategies. Ultimately, Google decides which brands show up in the KG but you can help improve your chances with the following tactics:

  • Implement structured data like
  • Verify your Google+ brand page
  • Claim your Google+ local page (if applicable)
  • Check your brand’s Wikipedia entry for completeness and accuracy (if applicable)
  • Implement rel=”publisher” or rel=”author” tags (if applicable)

Google Hummingbird will continue to evolve into personalized search

I believe that Hummingbird is revealing the way of the future towards personalized and predictive search. Hummingbird’s semantic search approach still needs work but overall, the algo upgrade successfully processes natural language and mobile-based search queries. Just look at Google Now, Siri’s main competitor which I was just recently introduced to by Senior SEM Specialist, Jay Ratkowski. Google Now integrates with your gmail account, calendar, browser history and location. Although currently only available for mobile, there’s no doubt in my mind that Google Now will make a push towards a desktop version. For those reasons, it will soon become top priority to optimize your site for conversational search. You can do this with the following tips:

  • Optimize your site for mobile search
  • Improve page load times
  • Use long-tail synonyms of your keywords
  • Add social sharing icons
  • Create informative content that answers in-depth questions (think WWWWH and Q&A format)

Forget chasing the algos because updates are not going to stop anytime soon. The future of search is constantly evolving and now is the time to prepare for your 2014 digital marketing strategy. Stay competitive, my friends! 

Thoughts on “2014 SEO predictions: Prepare for the evolution of PAND-GUIN-BIRD”

  1. Renee Girard, Nice post. Great short word use for panda, penguin and hummingbird. In 2013 These three updates are very scare full and dangerous for us. Now in 2014 we need to do only white hat Seo.

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Renee Girard

Renee Girard is a Senior Organic Search Strategist and SEO Lead with nearly 8 years of agency experience at Perficient Digital out of the Milwaukee office. She leads SEO strategy for SMB to Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 enterprise clients and speaks at local universities and nationwide digital marketing events.

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