It’s been an eventful year for search, both with search updates and online searching behavior.
Google updated search 13 times in 2014, including updates for more stringent piracy policies, and search behavior.
Below are some of the most outlandish search predictions for 2015, along with some more realistic expectations for what search marketers and online retailers should expect for search in 2015.
2014 Google Updates
If you are not familiar with Google’s search changes for 2014, review the changes before you plan your 2015 search marketing strategy.
Here are some of the most pertinent search changes Google made this year:
Google Pirate 2 Update (Oct 2014) – Impacted visibility for torrent sites
Google Penguin 3.0 Update (Oct 2014) – Refresh of previous penguin updates designed to clean up webspam
Google Panda 4.1 Update (September 2014) – Filter to penalize poor quality content
Google Authorship Removed (August 2014) – In a Google+ announcement, John Mueller announced Google’s removal of authorship markup in search.
Google Pigeon Update (July 2014)- Local search update to emphasize local results and factors in search, including distance and location ranking factors.
Crazy Search Predictions for 2015
2015 search, SEO and SEM prediction posts are out in numbers, with some surprisingly unconventional forecasts for the future of search in 2015. Here are some of the most interesting prognoses’s for search this coming year.
1. Yahoo, DuckDuckGo Usurp Google traffic
Although Google accounts for roughly 65% of US search market share, smaller search engines persist in generating views and users.
A 2015 search environment where Google isn’t a key traffic driver however isn’t highly likely. More likely, smaller search engines like DuckDuckGo will gain traction on similar competitors like Bing.
2. Google Opens a Marketplace
This month (Dec 2014), WSJ reported Google is looking to release a “Buy Now” Button on Shopping, in yet another move to keep users on Google search. While Google’s button update had many thinking about its move towards competing with Amazon and even becoming a marketplace itself- the move isn’t likely to happen in 2015.
Google’s existing checkout on search is challenged with gaining user trust and engagement, which is a challenge that Google will need to overcome to make headway against Amazon in 2015.
3. Facebook Edges in on Google Search
Integrating chat, news and community features is a challenge for search engines like Google, but an arena social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn prioritized this year.
Facebook’s search updates reflect the social channel’s desire to become both a news source (Aug 2014) for users and a place to source reviews and comments from a trusted network (Dec 2014).
While directly competing with Google on search is far from Facebook’s grasp right now, the social engine is likely to progress to improve its functionality for users moving into 2015.
Arguably, sites like Yelp should be more concerned with Facebook’s updates in the near future.
4. Apps Will Beat-Out Web Pages
Google’s AdWords Innovations announcement (April 2014) focused heavily on the impact of mobile and apps specifically. 70% of today’s consumers have applications, a forecast of the increased focus marketers can expect for apps. It’s not likely to forecast app’s prevalence beating out web pages this year; Google is focusing on apps, and will be indexing information from mobile apps alongside web pages in 2015.
5. Search Results Will Be Determined by Searcher Profiles
Google+ authorship markup was removed from search in 2014, but social profile influence will continue to influence search in 2015. A search environment primarily driven a searcher profile is something Google is working towards.
This month, (Dec 2014) Google updated Estimated Total Conversions on AdWords, which allows marketers to track phone calls, in-store purchases and cross device conversions- creating a comprehensive consumer profile for advertising and remarketing.
A complete consumer profile driven search is still a bit far off, but tangible with the amount of information Google is collecting, particularly with Google’s focus on providing the most relevant information to users.
6. Significant Search Competition from Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram
More and more sites which don’t have a primary search or advertising function are branching out to encompass both elements of ecommerce.
Facebook’s search updates, Promoted Pins and Instagram Ads are all examples of social platforms expanding to meet more user needs, while leveraging advertising opportunities. Google will certainly be king of search and paid advertising in 2015, but social platforms still have some catching up to do.
7. Google Knowledge Graph will become Like Wikipedia
Google’s Knowledge graph has evolved over 2014 to answer almost every query, population information right within Google search result pages (SERPs). It’s realistic to anticipate Google will advance to expand its knowledge graph to keep people on Google search. It’s not likely however that Google will allow users to edit or add information to Google search in 2015, if ever.
8. Google Will Include Job Listings
LinkedIn has undergone some smart pivots in 2014, particularly with the acquisition of Pulse, expanding the networking and job seeker site to more of a news platform. Google loves to take-on functions and capabilities of its competitors, and those it deems relevant to searchers needs.
Google Helpouts, Google Shopping Express, and Google+ are just some examples of services Google offers which overlap with competitors. Google’s Google+ network would be a good springboard for a job seeker platform, particularly when coupled with Google’s trust factor, and strong branding. While improbable, the possibility Google will expand to include job searching in 2015 is possible.
9. Google Author Influence in Search
Google search influencing factors change every year. In 2013, SEO’s focused on link building, where content and paid search are a heavy focus in 2014.
With Google’s search personalization, and evolved knowledge graph, it’s questionable to anticipate more search weight for authors. Author rank as a ranking factor isn’t likely to be a significant search influencer in 2015 right out the gate, but it’s realistic to anticipate Google gradually weighing authorship more on search, particularly for vetted and community recognized authors.
10. Brand Mentions Supersede Links on Search
Google has been particularly aggressive in penalizing web spam and bad linking in 2014, a symptom of rampant black and gray hat link building from the previous years. With this in mind, Google seems to be placing increased significance on brand mentions.
Brand mentions are more difficult to engineer SEO for, and are more the result of effective content marketing. It’s not unrealistic to anticipate Google leaning more heavily on brand mentions in 2015, although how much emphasis remains to be seen.
Many have noted that SEO is dead or arguably on its way out. More accurately, SEO and search is undergoing a transformation. In 2015, SEO’s, SEM’s and Search Marketers will need to become adept in Content Marketing, Link Building, Quality Assurance, Big Data, Social, Remarketing, Customer Service, and many other areas of search which overlap.