By Nate Dame
It’s that wonderful time of year when blogs and social media are cluttered with predictions of what the new year will bring. Whether it’s Social Media Predictions for 2015, How SEO Will Change in 2015, or the catch-all Digital Marketing Trends in 2015, it’s all been done – many times over.
After a while, the predictions start to run together as the same things we’ve heard all year – and even the best don’t always turn out to be very accurate. Everybody hits on most if not all of the common themes:
- Mobile will continue to grow
- Exact keyword use will/should diminish
- Knowledge Graph will keep more users on Google.com
- Stop the grey/black hat stuff already
- Design a website people like
- Fake links will be even less helpful, real links will be even harder to earn (and be even more valuable) — unless, of course, Google keeps getting links confused
Instead, I want to dive into a handful of the fringe predictions that stick out from the rest.
These are some of the more provocative, contentious, borderline-crazy forecasts. Chances are that most of these are way off (and some we desperately hope are wrong). But it is here, on the edge of the predict-o-sphere, that we might uncover a hint of the big change just over the horizon that will catch everybody by surprise.
We Will See Google Test Search Results With No External, Organic Listings
As Google continues to get more and more aggressive with things like Knowledge Graph, visual ads, and instant answers, I suspect we’ll see some of the first result sets that have no traditional, external-pointing, organic links whatsoever. Side note: This will scare the poop out of many marketers, but it probably (hopefully?) won’t expand much beyond the experimental/limited release phase.
“Scare the poop out” is a kind way of putting it. Given Google’s continued antitrust lawsuit woes in the EU, this test would likely take place in the U.S. — if anywhere.
The ramifications would be massive as marketers retaliate, and there’s a good chance users would revolt too: 86% of searchers trust organic listings more than paid listings.
Content-Driven Businesses Will Lose
Further fall of information websites as Google gives more answers. If you’re in the business of providing answers to your audience, you’re about to have a bad time as you’re in direct competition with Google.
To put it more bluntly: If you’re in the business of providing answers on your website, you’ve already given your most valuable assets (your content) to your competition (Google).
And the search giant seems to have no shame about its own double standards.
Smart Everything Will Evolve Search Marketing
The IoT [Internet of Things] will redefine search marketing. The future of search resides in automatic identification through beacons, sensors, global positioning systems, and other types of technology that push information rather than pull.
The good news is, if Google and other search engines completely squash what we know as SEO today, at least SEO professionals have a shot at reinventing themselves in the IoT.
The Apple Watch Will Change SEO Tactics
The Apple Watch will mark the beginning of a new series of trends. Business owners and marketers will have to spend more time optimizing for Bing and Apple Maps specifically, and will have to be prepared for the onset of super-specific local searches.
I have a hard time seeing a still unproven new product drive so much search activity to Bing that marketers will be making drastic changes anytime soon.
Remember those ultra portable laptops that didn’t quite live up to expectations — only to be eclipsed by their predecessor, the tablet? The Apple Watch and other wearables are way too young to call it.
Whatever does take hold in the IoT world will have a big impact on marketing and search, but I’m not placing any bets yet.
Marketers Will Waste Time With HTTPS
Also from “The Experts Speak: Top 3 Changes Expected In The SEO Landscape in 2015″:
SEO providers will have to deal with more clients needlessly switching over to HTTPS (it doesn’t actually protect anything vital for either visitors or websites). Research shows that people on the Web don’t really care about HTTPS. They don’t even know what it is. SEOs who support HTTPS will have to explain why no miraculous increases in traffic occur.
Users may not care about HTTPS, but Google does — shouldn’t that be enough? The majority of users may never know what HTTPS is or what HTTPS does, but it sounds like Google wants to make a bigger deal out of it in the near future.
Google’s Stonewalling Gets Bigger
From Debra Mastaler, President of Alliance-Link:
Google will continue to remove tools and cut back on analytics.
Yep, this is going to happen. The less data Google makes available to SEOs, the less that SEOs can do to create and test quick-win black/grey hat gimmicks to game higher rankings.
That means Google can spend less time responding to spammy tactics, and more time increasing its own revenue. It’s a no brainer.
Fewer Google Updates
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that we will actually see a slight decrease in algorithm changes in 2015 compared to 2014, which had more than ever.
Well, I guess if you don’t count constant updates to the algo made by Panda’s machine-learning-driven systems, or the self-learning systems we can only imagine Google’s recently acquired/hired AI teams are developing, sure.
There will be fewer “updates,” but ever-increasing “changes.”
Google+ Will Finally Die
Also from “What Will Google be like in 2015? These 16 Experts May Know”:
In 2015 Google+ will die a slow death. Integrations with existing Google products will be removed or made optional. The most popular components of Google+ like photo sharing and hangouts will be de-bundled and made available separately. G+ engagement will fade over time.
Google+ may be on its last leg, but it will probably stick around for a few more years at least. If Google execs do in fact want to kill it, the process of decoupling it from, well, nearly every Google entity will take some time.
Personally I just need to know, what’s going to happen with what used to be Google Voice?
In Next 10 Years: Predictive Search Answers
The future of search won’t just be about asking a Siri-like entity for information or thinking about questions and receiving answers in a micro heads up display (more contact lens than Google Glass), but the application of predictive search answers. In other words, a big data sourced understanding of individuals and situations so specific, that technologies will deliver information with amazing accuracy and relevancy before we need it.
Rand Fishkin may have put it better with “Invisible Mind-Reading Drones that Know Your Every Thought.” The far-flung future of search is: [insert your own adjective here].
Apples Launches Its Own Search Engine
Matt Cutts Never Comes Back
This is also just wild speculation, but who knows? Maybe Matt’s had enough and is just performing one more A/B test to see if Google can survive without him.
And now the obligatory closing question: What’s the edgiest prediction you’ve seen for the new year?
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