Saturday, March 8, 2014

Google’s 2014 Plans – What You Need to Know

 

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If you run an online business, ignoring Google’s antics can be lethal to your bottom line. Google controls large chunks of markets like search engines, hardware, and application distribution. Staying in-the-know about this mammoth company’s latest priorities helps you to know where to focus each quarter in your own marketing and development efforts.

Likewise, if you’re an entrepreneur looking to launch a new business this year, watching the places Google spends most of its time and efforts are great overall indicators about digital industry trends.
So what does Google have cooking for the new year? After a landmark year where it seemed to move at light speed, 2014 promises to be even more revolutionary, fast-paced, and prolific for this online giant. Check out the yearly predictions and trajectories below, and consider these carefully as you map out your own business projections for 2014.

Search: The Heart of Success
Search results have always been the core of Google’s business, so expect more improvements and SEO finesse for 2014. As Google learns to leverage the myriad of information gathered in its other services (Google+, Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, etc.), search results will become more targeted and intuitive. Furthermore, Google will likely become far more proactive in offering search results, as the search engine gets smarter and smarter about each searcher’s specific likes and needs.
As we covered in a recent 2014 SEO trends report, we will likely see a heavier emphasis on things like long tail keywords, semantics and entity search, and mobile pay-per-click efforts as well.
Google saw its ‘stock price top out at over $1,000 in 2013, and you better believe they want more of the same this year. Since we all know content is king in the world of SEO, for Google, content means more cold hard cash. The single greatest investment you can make for your marketing efforts this year is still high-quality, relevant, unique content. It’s really true that some things never go out of style.

The Year of the Glass
2013 saw an avalanche of hype over Google Glass, but without an official consumer release, speculation is all we have. It’s highly likely that Glass will officially launch this year, which has already triggered massive application funding and development.

If your brand lends itself to cutting edge technology, or you simply love to be on the next big thing, watch the trajectory of Google Glass carefully, or get in on the game and start developing your own apps now. Keep in mind the current reviews for Google Glass are mixed at best, but Google is deeply invested in being successful with this new hardware extraordinaire, so the end result is still completely unknown. If you’re a gambler, bet on it making it a serious splash.

New and Improved Android OS
Google launched an Android OS update (version 4.4) called Kitkat in 2013, but without many bells and whistles, it didn’t make much of an impact. It’s a safe bet that in 2014, Android 5.0 will likely see the light of day mid-year. Fans are hoping for a dramatic improvement to the somewhat gloomy and dark 4.0 theme, and we’ll likely see significant UI improvements across the board.

Any business with a mobile-focused model should stay current with Android’s latest release plans.

The Plight of Google+ Continues
Google+ has certainly not been a slam dunk since its lackluster and slow-to-adopt launch, but never ever count out this social platform as a potential beast. Because Google+ is so integrated and critical to Google’s search functions, this social network has by-proxy staying power. Google continues to work to make Google+ the portal by which we experience all Google applications. This makes a presence on Google+ for your business an outright necessity.

One of the intelligent ways Google learned to leverage the community last year will likely continue tenfold this year. Noticing that some targeted niches saw the heaviest usage of Google+, the company reached out to their biggest user group – amateur and professional photographers – and launched special features accessible only to this community to great fanfare and positivity.

Expect similar updates for other loyal niches this year.

Regardless of whether you benefit from these upgrades, your online business should absolutely ensure a strong Google+ presence; if not for marketing engagement, than at the very least to bolster your SEO.

Trust: Google’s Achilles Heel
There are few areas of tech development that Google doesn’t have its fingers in – from robots to computer hardware, internet service providers to retail outlets, Google shows movement across almost every platform. Yet there is one critical component to Google’s health factor that is really unpredictable this year: consumer trust.

Prior to 2013, Google certainly had its share of detractors, but no significant controversies to point to. Thanks to the post-Snowden era, when the PRISM scandal broke, Google has been facing increasing scrutiny about how they deal with the massive amount of personal data they house. They vehemently deny any spying or wrongdoing with this data, yet at the same time, they have fully admitted “shocking increases” in the number of government requests to access private data.

While we don’t know how, if, or when Google has compromised user privacy, and to what degree, it is obvious that mass consciousness has become increasingly suspicious – and rightfully so. Google’s biggest task this year won’t be launching new operating systems, search algorithms, or high-tech hardware solutions, but keeping or gaining back consumer trust.

What Google trends and developments are most relevant to your business? Sound off in the Comments section.