Top Predictions for SEO in 2014
The Last Year in Review
Twenty thirteen has been a game changer for SEO, search optimization professionals are feverishly trying to adapt. From Hummingbird to Penguin updates, SEO companies are making amends with search engines on past strategies. Previous techniques that proved successful such as building thousands of backlinks and page rank are obsolete or worse lead to penalization. The blogosphere was buzzing with rumors that SEO is dead nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the quick and dirty outlaws of SEO continue to be banished out of the top pages of the SERP. A triumph for those in using organic principals according to 100 Percent Organic SEO’s article “Black Hat SEO vs Organic SEO” and the stability of Organic search engine optimization.
The aftermath of penguin left website owners who scurried after low quality back-links and spammy content to desperately disavow links, rewrite content or to simply, scrap websites and start fresh. Thus giving birth to a new niche in SEO of the “Disavowing link specialists” whose business is to tediously comb through every single link and pray for removal. This is proving to be a mountain of a task and quite costly, just think if you bought or built 250,000 links and had to submit 230,000 of them one by one! The average cost of this service ranges in the tens of thousands far outweighing the original cost of optimization. Yes indeed 2013 was definitely a game changer for the synthetic SEO guru’s while the organic SEO specialists came through squeaky-clean.
Big tips for the New Year
Begin with what is fact, predict human nature, and build your strategy on the known SEO updates from 2013 and adhere to quality in every aspect. There is no way to predict the future of SEO, but we can certainly share some enlightenment and future prophecies.
1) Use this the “Devil’s Advocate” philosophy and think like your target audience. It all comes down to common sense if you think like a visitor, apply natural optimization, and become the devil’s advocate you will succeed with at least 90 percent of your approach. Always obey the rule of thinking as a visitor as well as giving search engines what they need to crawl your site, just pure and simple quality. Link quality and quality content are definitively not going anywhere. Shifting your focus towards providing a great user experience will help guide you in all aspects of site architecture, content, Meta titles and descriptions as well as blogging. Simplicity makes sure your core business personas is dead accurate and minimize the noise.
2) Content is king. Stop thinking about selling your products or service and revisit your current content. Benefits are in the eye of the beholder, focus rather on the features of whatever you do it is a fact people do not read websites they scan them so outlining your features infers the benefits without the used car salesperson’s pitch. What is your visitor’s main problem? What do you do that solves that problem? These are your features. . Time on page is a ranking factor…this is why you commonly see now videos on the home page of websites. They not only entertain, describe features, but also force the visitor to stay on page for whatever the duration of the video is. I implement these in all my clients websites because they enforce all the golden rules, quality, content, scan through, features and call to actions. In addition, it simplifies a page to the core business persona.
3) Call to actions can be cause to flee. A call to action can be a contact form, a share box, or more info button. Pop ups are intrusive unless they are relative, such as notification of a sale, newsletter or discount for an action or possibly a fun quiz with a prize. Again, we emphasize the principal of value. I see the abuse of this element all the time and typically rush to close the pop up get annoyed or leave. If your content is, worthy of sharing then leave that up to the visitor with a clear and concise share box no need to slap it in their face. Make sure your call to actions lead to the relative page, if your “More Info” button leads to a pricing page and does not lead to a features our about page you stand the chance of a quick exit by the visitor
4) Add Long Tail Keywords to your page titles or Meta titles. Long Tail keywords are now king with semantic search. Semantic is an improvement on search accuracy by understanding intention of the search. Essentially, long-tail keywords are less popular keywords because they have lower search volume and less competition. Consider the following two examples: “home remedies for dog fleas” or “how to make Italian pasta.” These are each considered long-tail keywords as compared to trying to rank for the much more competitive search terms “dog fleas” or “pasta recipe”. Semantic essentially uses a function of relations such as Pasta and Italy or Pasta and recipe so using long tail keywords for example “
Pasta recipe from Italy” will now provide you richer results in the SERP.
Top Predictions for SEO in 2014
Content Marketing has grown intuitively
One thing we have all grown tired of is content that is sales oriented entrenched with low quality anchor text leading to an “About” or the clever “Tour” page which gives you absolutely nothing but benefits and features of some type of service or product. Personally, I have grown quite impatient with these articles, as have magazine sites such as Reddit, Stumbled Upon, and Scoop. Every tenth word leads to the author’s website or Wiki page peddling something. If you are going to use anchor text then do it elegantly within quality or as a reference and sparingly. Nobody likes the used car salesperson approach. Creating effective content strategies will only help grow your SEO efforts and create a quality presence on the web. Consistent content that is completely fresh and shared can grow your authority. Google has shown its value of quality content by effectively using authorship or your G+ profile pic next to the search result. If you should start with anything this year it is developing your G+ authority regardless if you feel posting in G+ is as good as a tree falling in the woods and nobody seems to hear it. Meaningful content that is relevant to your users will keep your site focused, as you learn to live in the new era of “Not provided” in analytics and into the future.
Social Media SEO is more than fun and games
Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest now use algorithms much like Google and are becoming a search portal all in themselves. In the beginning the “Likes”, “Retweets,” and “Plus Ones” used to be entertainment, fun and games if you will. Today social media and whatever you focus your efforts on greatly influences your SEO. From Instagram to Facebook, all areas of social media matter. Likewise, in 2014, social media will continue to evolve and mature. SEOs should make sure they are active on social media networks that are relevant to their industry, and most importantly, taking it seriously. If you have not implemented Open graph or checked your “OG” for errors now is a better time than ever. If you want to check how your site translates in Open Graph here is a few links to diagnose if you have any issues.
Mobile SEO is growing and growing
2014 is the year of mobile search. With more than 6.8 billion mobile devices, in hand mobile search will soon surpass desktop searches according to Google. For the same reason, your mobile site performance already affects your SEO rankings. Create a mobile sitemap it will prove some positive effect on overall rankings and should be on your priority list. For more info on what and how to create a mobile sitemap you can visit Google Webmaster here.
We all love smart phones but rarely do SEO specialists pay attention to the user interface and miss some great opportunities for quicker access and bookmarking. I cannot say definitively if adding Apple or Samsung icons have a great deal of effect on rankings but filling in the blanks of any mobile user-based experience is extremely important. I love my IPad and IPhone and I love saving favorite sites to my homepage instead of bookmarking a website. The “add to homepage” feature is a special icon from a given site that appears as an app. What a great way to easily access a website and what a great opportunity to polish off your website or brand with a custom made icon other than a tiny snapshot of your homepage. If you have not optimized a mobile version of your site or a responsive website, then creating one should be your number one priority for the upcoming year.
Future changes in the works
- Soon google PPC ads will have a new look. Ads will now display with a tag as “Ad” as well as full banner ads and rich snippets such as ratings without the box or yellow border mimicking an organic result. Google will be rolling out these new effects in UK 2014 and expanding to all its geo locations. Here is a great article on this topic.
As the year, 2014 gives us greater challenges in the SEO industry we will continue to thrive and as long as quality and content remains king, we will always reign in the top pages of search results with greater stability…
By Dorron Shapow 100 Percent Organic SEO