Understanding SEO in 2014
2014 will be a year full of dramatic changes for the SEO industry. What do you need to know to keep up?
Let's do a quick recap. SEO in a nutshell:
SEO = search engine optimization.
Search engine optimization = the technique you employ to help your website rank higher in organic search results.
Your rank = how visible you are to people looking for your products or services via search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
If you run a search on how to better your SEO efforts you will find endless pages of tips on how to improve the SEO elements of your site. What types of elements do search engines look for?
- Title Tags
- Image Tags
- Internal Link Structure
- Inbound Links
But this year, search engines are looking for more. We’ve moved beyond strict qualitative analysis and have transitioned into the realm of quantitative, where search engines look at your website structure and design, as well as your site visitor’s behavior. The demand for SEO services remains high, but companies that integrate their marketing strategies are finding the best results. If you aim to successfully improve your company's SEO in 2014, be sure you take time to carefully examine your content, social presence, user experience and mobile site.
In 2014, focus on keywords and content.
Keywords have always been a dominant element of SEO and in the past, may have been the primary technique you used to improve it. When it came to content generation, you probably developed a plan for weaving these keywords into your copy. This year while you should still use keywords, they shouldn’t be your only concern. Search engines are starting to pay more attention to content, in particular, content topics.
When you create content, make sure it falls into a topic that is of value to your audience. If you are writing around a specific idea, you will be able to naturally optimize this content with the targeted keyword. How do you know what content matters to your audience? Conduct buyer persona interviews to hone in on your target demographic. Learn what solutions they are looking for so you can write to them.
In 2014, social search is more important than ever.
Social search is playing a huge role in the shifting SEO landscape. Social signals are said to be the fastest-rising search engine ranking factor. Social media wasn’t originally a part of the equation when SEO first developed into an industry because the role social media channels play in search engine optimization wasn’t of concern at the time. These signals have a direct impact on ranking with the impact coming from:
- Number of people that have liked your brand on Facebook
- Number of Facebook shares
- Number of Twitter followers
- Number of people that have you in their circles on Google+
Now that SEO brings tweets, retweets, Google+ authorship and activity into the mix, it certainly needs to be on your radar. Not only do search engines take a look at your content, they prioritize it to the people that are connected to you. Social search assesses what topics you will find interesting and meaningful in your network and float that content to the top of your networks.
In 2014, your user’s experience matters. A lot.
It isn’t enough for a user to find and visit your website, it’s essential that upon arrival they stay and engage with your content. Today, content strategy is being touted by experts as, “the new SEO”. As Google makes updates to their algorithms, it’s clear that search engines are forcing people to be natural in their content creation. Meaningful content adds values instead of noise, and works to solve a specific problem that benefits the user. From an SEO perspective, Google will be looking for companies that make robust content marketing efforts, as this is a sign that they are a company that Google would want to support. When you are creating your content for your target audiences, remember that SEO takes into account what visitors do with your content once they arrive on your website and interact with it.
In 2014, SEO means mobile.
You didn’t think you could escape the importance of mobile optimization did you? 2014 will be the year of mobile SEO. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, your search engine rankings will suffer. That’s right, with the Hummingbird algorithm, your site’s mobile performance will impact your SEO rankings. Consider this to be another reason that building a responsive website should be on the top of your to-do list in 2014.
This will certainly be a year full of dramatic changes in the SEO industry. The best thing you can do for your SEO techniques? Focus on creating meaningful content that will simultaneously solidify your brand’s image, raise awareness, and provide a real solution to the real problems of your customers.