Web Predictions 2013: The Future of Online Marketing

So we’ve all survived the supposed Mayan apocalypse and find ourselves in a brave new world: 2013. If you’re wondering what happens next, you’re in luck — some COCG staffers have decided to try their hands at predicting the future (the future of the web, to be exact). Read on to see our online marketing predictions for 2013.

Andy Waldrop, Marketing Multi-Threat

Prediction: Apple will buy Yelp in 2013 for a very sizable figure. I’m going out on a limb here, but I think it is an acquisition that gives Apple a huge gain in the online content space.

Benefits for Apple in Acquiring Yelp

We all know Apple is a hardware juggernaut of epic proportions. Their devices not only set trends and raise the bar on new device expectations, but they continue to break sales figures and quarterly records. Yelp, which is already heavily integrated with Siri, the voice-automated butler on iPhones and iPads, gives Apple genuine user content about the world around us. Content is something Apple lacks. Yelp information could easily be integrated with Apple maps to better compete with Google Maps.

How Yelp Grows with Apple Acquisition

Yelp is already in direct competition for user-generated reviews and content with Google and Facebook. Google+ Local, formerly Google Places, has undergone a major revamp and rededicated efforts to filter fake reviews in 2012 to offer users better information. Google’s advantage in the mobile arena is that they can always be better integrated with an Android’s OS than Yelp will ever be. With an Apple acquisition Yelp could be better integrated into the core of the next iOS allowing a user to quickly browse reviews, info, ratings and photos of the area around them.

Yelp also is in the infant phases of its paid advertising model. With the huge growth in visibility and market share an Apple-sized audience would give them, their paid model might actually attract the attention of online advertisers. For years, online marketers have touted the iPhone and iPad audience as being highly desirable — it’s an audience with higher than average disposable income, more likely to make online purchases, higher average education level and even in some cases willing to spend more. A cost-per-click ad model to reach this audience would be every bit as attractive as advertising with Bing. They have a long way to go to catch Google Adwords, but the merger does make Apple more competitive with Google over the next 5 years. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens.

Josh Kinney, Search Sherpa

Prediction: Google will roll out their next big algorithmic update (Think Panda/Penguin) and will affect LOCAL search results in a big way.

3 Reasons Why I Think Google Local Algorithms Deserve an Update

  1. Local results are their own beast in Google’s search results. They get their own 7-pack and other results outside of the pack are strongly influenced by the geographic search factor. This means that there’s one factor that plays a huge role in these particular results that a blanketing Panda or Penguin-esque style update can’t really touch. The Exact Match Domain (EMD) update would have certainly influenced this sphere of results but not to the extent in which it needs. With 43% of total Google search queries being local, I’d say this segment is large enough to deserve some recognition.
  2. One thing holds true through all of the major updates over the last 2 years or so: Local results are sometimes…terrible! I can’t be the only one who does not want to see search results that include another search result page hosted on yellowpages.com, insiderpages.com or other directory/listing sites. Those results are taking the user back a step and Google can do better. On top of that, some of the “legitimate” local results are often one page websites, broken links and other reflections of the old and the terrible (as opposed to bold and the beautiful).
  3. I’ve been noticing some Google+ Local pages taking a much longer time to pass review very recently. Google gives the explanation that “this is a known issue and we are working on resolving it.” Could this be because a re-working is in the making? This bug is fairly new but it’s happening to several listings, or maybe it’s just coincidence.

How’s It Gonna Happen?

I predict that Google’s local algorithmic update will have a name like “puma” (keeping with soft fuzzy animals that start with a P) or will have a black and white mascot like an orca (keeping with black and white fuzzy animals). The update will be more heavily weighted toward websites/businesses with a strong popularity in the local area with influence hinging on name searches, positive reviews around the web, high volume of social shares and positive landing page activity.

Scott Horner, Search Engine Crowd Control Officer

Prediction: As mobile technology usage continues to grow people will tire of having to buy new chargers and devices. Wireless charging/connections will take a large step forward in 2013. Toyota introduced wireless chargers to their consoles at the CES this January using existing technology, Qi by Energizer. One of the limits of mobility is the battery charge. We’ve seen longer-life batteries marketed in 2013. Watch for technology to usurp the mobile device manufacturers’ requirement to purchase new chargers, connectors and plug-ins. Universal connections and wireless charges will simplify mobile power problems. In turn, watch for the continued evolution of mobile websites and mobile search apps to meet the growing demand. Businesses preparing for the mobile visitor should consider mobile/responsive websites, location/mapping, mobile communication methods and social network optimization.

Hannah McConaghy, Web Writing Wunderkind

Prediction: On my content wishlist for 2013? That this be the year Google seriously cracks down on websites with poorly written content, bad grammar and rampant misspellings. But since we’ve only seen a few halfhearted attempts at this in the past, bad rankings for bad grammar don’t seem likely. Instead I’ll give a more realistic prediction: That Google search updates will continue to focus on popularity metrics — weighing social “likes,” shares, “pins,” views, etc. more and more in an attempt to reward quality content rather than sites that try to game the system.

Barbara Maloney, Marketing Maven

Prediction: I see visual content (such as video, images, infographics, etc.) becoming a necessity and no longer just a “nice addition” to your marketing strategy. Visual content is a new avenue that many companies have not ventured to explore. This past year we saw a large increase in photo sharing, especially with platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. Currently Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Linkedin, Google+ and YouTube combined. I think that we will only see this increase moving forward.

Collin Jarman, Master & Commander of SEO

Prediction: I’m going to make a pretty bold guess here and say that Microsoft is going to do something big/interesting with Bing. Yeah, sure, go ahead and get all of your hate out of the way. Despite what many would have you believe, Bing actually isn’t a bad search engine. Pair this with Microsoft’s continued efforts with it and Internet Explorer (which again is not nearly as bad as you probably think), their partnership with Facebook, and the idea of “Social Search,” and I think something neat might happen. Whether it will trump Google as the go-to place for advertisers will remain to be seen. But my official prediction for 2013 is that Microsoft will do something cool with Bing.

Note: I wrote this 2 days before Facebook announced Graph Search.  Now, let’s take a look at a Bing search.

Note the “Connect with Facebook” box to the right.    I think very soon they are going to start promoting this heavily.  Currently, clicking “Connect to Facebook” takes you to an app request screen.  All the Bing app requests is the ability to read your Facebook posts.  Perhaps we’ll see some new targeting options based around what users have been discussing recently?  It could be an intriguing way to target an ad… just imagine, yesterday you were discussing with friends about whether you should buy some Nikes or Reebok shoes, then all of a sudden you start seeing display ads for Nikes all over the place.

Allison Brantley, Social (Media) Butterfly

Prediction: Along with a new year comes new social media predictions. As for me, I believe several socially-centered startups will die off in the cold weather months. Regardless if the move is financial or personal, I predict there will be a large amount of startups disassembling this winter while others are acquired by their larger counterparts. Those that weather the storm will see a permanent shift in the climate of social media over the next year. The next “big player” in social networking will become evident to all this summer or early fall (I am not a gambler. But if I were, I’d put my money on Pinterest). I also see there being an increased focus on the integration of multiple social media platforms (i.e. Facebook and Pinterest) as well as a push in brand journalism.