In an evolving digital world, staying up to date with trends and the new tactics becoming available is as important as actually implementing your chosen methods themselves.

A good online marketing strategy will allow for adjustments in response to updates in the industry. In 2013 we saw the launch of Hummingbird, various social media changes and the continued rise of mobile and tablet internet use.

Anthony Bullick predicts some of the digital developments to look out for in 2014.

Refine and polish

There are unlikely to be any major updates to Google’s search algorithm over the next 12 months.

The search engine giant wants to completely eliminate ‘bad SEO’: when websites use manipulative techniques to trick search engines into positioning them higher than their content dictates they deserve to be.

Its main objective has always been to present its users with the best websites to answer their search query. Google turned the online world upside down in 2012 when it released Panda and Penguin updates.

Panda assesses the quality and relevance of your content, while Penguin judges the quality of other sites that link to yours. Minor tweaks have taken place to both throughout 2013 and this will continue in 2014 as Google seeks to perfect its algorithm.

We will also see more manual penalties handed out by Google, such as the one issued to Interflora earlier in the year.

With this in mind, it’s essential to review your entire website content strategy now to ensure your site doesn’t drop down the rankings in 2014.

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

The lines between various marketing disciplines are disappearing. For example, PR agencies that employ qualified journalists are naturally skilled at identifying topics and producing engaging content that makes an impression.

Of course, there is no point producing random copy or other content if you don’t know where your target customers are and therefore where to place it.

Therefore, those forward-looking PR agencies that have already established expertise in SEO strategy will be well-placed to carry out your SEO during 2014.

As this merger of disciplines continues, it follows that PR and online marketing campaigns that are currently run in isolation from each other will become more entwined over the next 12 months.

As more and more businesses develop their understanding that high-quality, relevant content can be re-used across several channels of communication, it is likely they will draw the conclusion that it is most cost-effective to employ a single agency.

We will therefore see consolidation, with a single agency being appointed by firms in place of several that each specialises in, for example, PR, SEO, social media and email marketing.

Every picture tells a story

Web users love to see an image, whether that be an infographic, photograph or by watching a video.

In 2014, we expect to see the use of visuals across PR and online marketing explode further.

The evidence is overwhelming: search for something in Google and look at the search results. Some of them feature a thumbnail picture of the article’s author.

More than 70 per cent of searchers click the number one result in Google when none of the articles feature a picture of an author. This drops to fewer than half of users when a lower-ranked website has an author’s picture: users go for links with pictures

The conclusion? Google Authorship, the result of linking your Google+ profile to your blog, will become even more vital next year.

This is just one example of how a visual image could boost numbers visiting your site.

It follows that other image-based tactics will take on more importance in 2014. Look out in particular for image-based social media sites such as Pinterest, which are set to play a bigger role for brands, and more videos than ever before on websites because this popular medium also carries SEO benefits.