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Back in the early days of internet marketing, spam ruled the internet. The algorithms that major search engines used were not very sophisticated, so there were a few simple tricks that search engine marketers used to game the results and push their sites to the top. The internet was rife with poor quality (keyword loaded) content that provided little value to the reader, and many sites used automated software to plaster their backlinks and comments all over the web.
While a few sites might still use these black hat methods, the search engines have caught up. Years of experience, data, and investment have resulted in a completely different way that search engines analyze content, and there are near-monthly shakeups of the search engine rankings that make it hard to predict which methods will be effective.
This natural evolution of internet marketing should be welcomed, not feared. Internet marketers need to be able to anticipate the future, and they should never get so attached to their methods that they are reluctant to change when conditions shift. What does the future of internet marketing hold? We have a few guesses.
The Resurgence of Expert Content
While sites like Wikipedia pioneered the “user generated content” niche, there has been a move in recent years towards more expert-curating of sites. People are tired of unreliable advice and pages that make bold claims with no citations. Expert content is going to become king of the internet, with well-known figures commanding high viewership for their sites even if the content is not particularly unique. If you are able to become an expert in your field, you will reap the rewards for years down the line.
Mobile Devices and their Importance
Two years from now, more than 70% of all computing devices will be mobile. Already, more than half of American primarily interface with the internet through a mobile device. Responsive design has come and gone, the new trend is towards individualized apps that provide native experiences for each business or site. Native apps are fast, they are more efficient than sites, and they have the extra benefit of controlling the entire user experience without letting browser problems ruin your user’s time with your brand.
Social Media and Search Rankings
When Google launched Google+, it was immediately clear that social media would play a role in search engine rankings in the future. While Google is notoriously tight lipped about the individual factors that play a role in search rankings, social media engagement seems like a great way to determine the relevance of a particular page. The more people that “like” or “share” a page, the more a search engine might consider it to be a source of useful and relevant content. Get a jumpstart on this trend by putting share buttons on your pages and encouraging social media engagement from your passionate fanbase.
Permanent Penalties for Temporary Problems
No article would be complete without a slightly negative view of some of Google’s recent changes. The penalty system that Google has begun to incorporate is designed to penalize spam sites and sites that don’t provide good content by knocking them out of the search rankings or taking them down several spots in the search results. However, there is definitely potential for abuse. Consider highly competitive industries – there is almost nothing stopping one business from intentionally using spam techniques to “give” another site backlinks, ensuring that their competitors are blacklisted from Google forever. Even if you have a long history of good content, this penalty process can be almost impossible to overturn and can take months of manual link deletion and emailing with webmasters. Hopefully Google will develop a better method to filter out these false-penalties, or a better way of supporting webmasters through link deletion.