2013 Predictions

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In a previous article I looked back at 2012 to identify some of the big happenings of the year.  In this article I peer into my crystal ball to try and identify what I see as some of the big things that will happen in 2013.

I think since the 2012 review article was such a hit, I will use the same format.  So first, let’s look at gadgets.

Gadgets

I think 2013 is going to be the year of the tablet – both the regular sized tablet and the “mini” tablet. I predict that this will have been the big item under the tree this Christmas and it will lead to an explosion of tablet based attention.

You will see firms spring up offering “website optimization for tablet users”, as well as an increase in the type and number of tablet apps available.

It will be an interesting year for website owners.  Now they will not only need a mobile based website for handheld phones, but also one for larger tablet screens.  This is where the responsive website design will be huge.  And that is also why earlier this year we changed our site style to be responsive.  Now we don’t need multiple versions of CSS for the same site we have One CSS to Rule Them All.

I think later in the year we will also see an explosion of the 4K TV’s I mentioned in the last article.  3D was so 2011 and there weren’t really any advances in TV technology in 2012 (although we did see prices drop a lot on many flat screen models) so 2013 will be the next big shift.

Social Media

I think 2013 is going to be the year Social Media truly breaks out.  While it will still be the place to meet up with old high school friends I think you will see business adopt social media in a whole new way.

In addition to embracing it as a marketing technology I think you will see how far corporations can stretch the model.  From using social media platforms for internal communications to finding ways to more efficiently monitor social media sites for information relevant to them.

For example, I think you will see companies such as major utilities turn to social media as a way to identify problems and then deal with them more quickly.  We are already seeing this – with Hurricane Sandy reports of power outages were appearing on Twitter before anywhere else.  I think this trend will continue and companies will learn from it.

And that leads to my next prediction – the rise of mobile social media.  We have already seen many people switching to mobile as their platform for social media but I think in 2013 it will become more ingrained into our handheld devices – especially with tablets.  The larger screen makes Social Media that much more inviting and easy to use.

2013 is the year we will see more people connecting both in person and online at the same time via mobile check in services.  And the rest of the world will be able to watch it all unfold on their personal mobile or desktop screen in real time as it happens.

Think about it – you are walking down the street and your phone beeps to tell you that someone you follow on Google+ is walking towards you and is ½ block away.  Your portable device can become a personal stalker for you without you even knowing it.

The one concern I have with this prediction has to do with personal safety and security.  As we all know, whatever you post online stays online forever.  So will others use this information against you in the future?  It’s too soon to tell so I’d suggest you be a little wary about sharing too much information online.

We are already seeing cases where people forget to filter between their brain and their keyboard.

Search

It should come as no surprise that Google continues to dominate but I do see Bing continuing to make ground, albeit at the expense of the other search engines.  Unless Google makes a huge error in judgment I don’t see it relinquishing much in terms of market share.  The dark horse is Yahoo!  It is still in rebuilding mode and while I don’t see it making many moves in 2013, one can never be sure.

That being said, let’s look at some of the trends I predict will grow in 2013 in Google:

1)      Author rank becomes more important- we saw this begin in 2012 – Google using Authorship as a way of defining ownership of content.  It was a tricky way to get people to start using Google+.  By appealing to our vanity (by allowing our photo to appear beside the article) Google not only provided a way to tie your content to you, but also a way to enhance your listing on the Google results page.

2)      Mobile Search Growth – Mobile continues to grow.  As I mentioned above, I predict there will be many tablets under Christmas trees this year.  That means more people than ever will be using mobile devices to search.  This will lead to an increased push into mobile accessible versions of websites.  In fact I see more companies opting for mobile sites over mobile apps.

3)      Continued Growth in Local Changes SERP – Ever since Google Maps listings became more prominent on the search result page Google has been trying to find the right balance between local and organic results.  As such, organic has tended to be pushed down the page.  I think we will continue to see refinements in the Google Local results with more emphasis not only on the layout, but what other additional information is provided with those results.  This does not mean Organic rankings are dead, just taking a back seat for now.

4)      Pandas & Penguins mean growth in link building – while many see these recent algorithms as the death of link building and SEO I see quite the opposite.  I see a refinement of the tactics for sure but I see an increase in reliance on SEO and link building.  The game hasn’t changed, just the rules have.

5)      Increased use of meta data – I see meta data and tagging making a comeback in 2013.  That means something as simple and trivial as the meta keywords tag could take on more importance.  More likely, we will see search engines rely on webmasters and site owners to correctly tag their documents to help with better indexing and matching.  Remember blog Tag Clouds of a few years ago?  Think along those lines.

Mobile

As you may have guessed – Mobile Search is going to be HUGE in 2013.  This will force site owners and SEO to finally try and figure out how to best accomplish their online marketing.

While mobile websites have been around for a while, I think the shift will be to a responsive style website.  This style of website adjusts itself to the screen it is displayed on regardless of size.  In fact this website is displayed using a responsive style.  We don’t have different mobile and desktop sites.  It’s all the same codebase using a special CSS that adjusts the site depending on the screen it is displayed on.

In addition, because of all these new mobile devices, I think you will see QR codes start to make a comeback.  They are efficient, easy to use and flexible.  From website addresses to contact information QR codes can be generated for almost anything online.

But mobile isn’t just about search.  I think you will see whole new uses for mobile devices and tablets.  With the increased screen size so much more will be available to users.

This is why the search and social media companies are investing heavily in mobile technology – from search to purchases to images – mobile devices (both phones and tablets) allow unprecedented access to the world.

Also, I do see small growth in apps for mobile devices, but I think website owners will realize that not every website needs an app – especially now that you can design with a responsive look and feel – you get the appearance of an app but on a fully functional website.

Bridging the Gap

This also leads to another emerging trend for marketers – how to not only reach the mobile only generation, but also how to keep their attention once you’ve gotten it.

There are so many people, particularly those in their late teens and early 20s who ONLY use a mobile device.  Sure their parents have computers, but they rarely touch them.  And with the growth of tablets there will be even less need for these mobilized users to ever think about sitting at a desk in front of a computer again.

So as marketers, we will need to rethink some of our strategies moving forward.   How do we engage this new breed of consumer?  Some of whom don’t have TV’s, don’t read “traditional” media, get their news from Twitter and Facebook, who have a much shorter attention span yet seem to multitask better than the rest of us?

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