2013 was a major year for change in SEO, as Google rolled out updates to their Penguin and Panda algorithms, released the Hummingbird update and shifted away from providing keyword data with encrypted search. Now that we are in nearly a month into 2014, it is becoming more and more crucial to predict Google’s next moves and react quickly and efficiently. Here are some areas that will see increased importance as 2014 rolls on:
Google took major steps toward combatting spam with the updates released in 2013. We can expect more of these updates in 2014 so it is vital to keep an eye on your link profiles by auditing them periodically. The goal of these audits should be to identify unnatural, artificial or spam backlinks and take the appropriate steps to get these links removed. Links from low-quality sites or from outside of your niche should be the first on the chopping block.
Content continues to reign as king in SEO. The key to good content is keeping it relevant, informative and interesting. Here are some advantages of having quality content on your site:
- Content keeps your site fresh and shows that it is current and growing
- Social signals can result from regular sharing and engagement (more on this below)
- Demonstrates authority when connected to your body of work
- Content is helpful to your targeted audience
Social media continues to play an increasing role in good SEO. While Facebook and Twitter remain mainstays within social marketing, networks like Pinterest and Instagram have also gained tremendous popularity. Diversification is key when approaching social media. It’s no longer adequate to be active on just one social network. Studies have shown that a successful marketing campaign encompasses an average of about seven networks. Google’s updates increasingly rely on social signals as these are good human indicators of good content. When evaluating your social media presence, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your content able to be shared easily via social media?
- Are you active on the key social networks for your industry?
- Are you active on the key social networks for your customers?
Technically, this ties in with social media as Google+ is a social network but because Google+ is Google’s social network, a presence there is absolutely critical. Google+ plays a significant role in SEO. Here are some areas one should look at:
- Link your content to your Google+ account via Google Authorship
- Google +1s add up and register as social signals in Google’s algorithm
By recent estimates, over half of all Americans own smartphones and a third own tablets. We can expect these numbers to increase in 2014. As such, your site’s mobile performance is crucial to SEO rankings. When designing a site, mobile should be the first goal and then the desktop version should be scaled up from that. Making sure site is optimized for mobile devices should be a top priority.
It may seem overwhelming when looking at SEO strategies for 2014 but we luckily have 2013 to look back on, which gives us a good indicator of where trends in SEO are heading. Although, we can’t anticipate every move Google will make, we can be sure that practices aimed at creating a quality user website experience in a non-artificial way will be here to stay. As long as your website adheres to white hat SEO tactics, you should be in good shape.