Time always seems like it goes faster every year, but this past year was so jam-packed, when I look back, I am happy and grateful to still be here and thriving in business!
In a year with significant personal changes for me – getting back to full time working after having a baby – would have made for an interesting enough year. Add to that all of the major developments in search and it was truly a wild ride.
Let’s review some of the highlights (and some not-so-high-lights!) from 2013:
Lingering Effects of Panda & Penguin
Though both of these major Google algorithm updates began before 2013, their impact was still being fully realized throughout 2013. Duplicate Content is still a major concern and will be going into 2014.
Google’s Hummingbird Update
Google’s latest and greatest gift to the search world was Hummingbird. It sounds cute and tiny, but boy it was anything but! Much of its impact will be felt in 2014, but if it lives up to its origin myth, it is going to be a doozy. Better figure out how to become “an authority” in your industry. And, get ready to be sick of hearing about “semantic search” in 2014!
Stop the train – did we just magically go back to 2003? Has Jeeves been secretly working at Google all this time? A large part of Hummingbird has to do with semantic search, or put more simply, search engines becoming better equipped to handle true, natural language queries. It’s funny – after all of these years of training people how to search more effectively, it seems that is about to significantly change.
Google giveth and Google most certainly taketh away! In this case, we bid a fond farewell to any meaningful keyword traffic data. This will impact everything – site structure, SEO and PPC. While it was often talked about as the death knell for SEO (not true), we also see it as seriously impacting PPC.
You could not be on Twitter and not be inundated daily with posts all about Content Marketing. It was The Trend of 2013. We expect it to reign well into 2104. We have our own opinions on it too…
AdWords Enhanced Campaigns
Wow, was a lot of time spent this year first anticipating, then digesting and finally reckoning with Google’s latest AdWords incarnation – Enhanced Campaigns. MUCH has been written on the topic and we had some very spirited PPCChat Twitter Chats about it too. When the dust settled, the verdict seems to be that there are some things that are an actual enhancement – like more granular site links, geographic bid modifiers and such. As well as some aspects that, well, suck – like inextricably integrating PC and tablet traffic, losing the ability to create truly separate mobile campaigns and…
The Death of the Keyword Tool in AdWords
I will say it outright – I miss the old Keyword Tool in AdWords. It used to be my go-to resource for quick and dirty traffic numbers. We do a lot of strategy work with our clients for both SEO & PPC and this tool was fantastic in the early stages of projects to bring the right scope and approach into focus. Now, it is pretty much useless – even for PPC. It’s even worse when you couple it with the fact that third party tools lost access to Google keyword data this year too.
The Rise of Retargeting
Friend or foe, creepy or cool, no matter your emotional opinion of retargeting, the tech itself is pretty damn cool. Being able to customize ads to display to people who have been to your site, but not converted is a pretty amazing capability. We expect this to grow and thrive in 2014 – provided it is not completely abused by big advertisers and a backlash begins.
Social is Unstoppable
A serious marketing campaign can no longer ignore social media. Having an active presence it no longer a nice to have, it is now a must have. The PPC capabilities on social platforms are maturing as well. For customer service, you’d better monitor brand mentions or risk serious public rants by unhappy customers! We expect this to be an area of continued growth in 2014.
You’d Better Get Responsive
The year started out with an unclear best practice for mobile devices – there seemed to be equal parts responsively designed sites and equal parts separate mobile, with Google initially pushing separate mobile sites through Duda Mobile. Then, something happened and suddenly Google’s recommended best practice was definitely responsively designed sites. We expect lots of site updates and conversions to responsive designs in 2014.
All I really know for sure is that everything will continue to change. And that is one of the things I love most about working in this field – it is always changing. We don’t have time to get stagnant or bored. The goalposts are always moving and we do our best to move with them and anticipate where they might be going when we can. Buckle up – 2014 isn’t looking any calmer!
I am sure I have missed things! What was your favorite change in 2013? What made you want to cry? What are you excited about for 2014? Let us know in the comments!