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January 8, 2014

What 2014 Has in Store for SEO

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Photo Credit: Augur Marketing via flickr

Google certainly kept SEO experts and marketers on their toes throughout all of 2013. Think 2014 will bring more of the same? An educated guess would answer yes and no. Algorithms are always being tweaked and refined, so in that sense, you bet there will be new hoops to jump through. But high-quality, fresh content has never gone out of style. In that sense, 2014 will be more of the same.

For those aspects that are not as consistent as fabulous content, it takes a detailed watch of past trends and current search nuances to see where things might be headed in 2014. Let’s take a gander at predicting what marketers will need to pay attention to this year in the world of SEO.

Content Marketing Continues to Dominate

The heart of your successful 2014 SEO campaigns should most definitely contain extensive content marketing. This trend saw a huge surge in 2013, and the momentum is expected to continue tenfold. Content marketing and SEO are best friends because great content does indeed equal great SEO. Content has a myriad of functions in addition to providing search engines quality results, but for the sake of SEO, nothing could be more critical to your efforts than comprehensive and consistent content marketing campaigns.

It’s All About Semantics

Semantic and entity search are two aspects that Google’s Hummingbird update has highlighted, so it’s reasonable to expect these tactics will be even more important in the coming year.

Semantic search highlights more responsive and in-depth search results. Google is always looking to improve how it responds to user search terms, aiming to better answer the searcher’s quest with every update. When we speak of entity search, we simply mean we are supporting Google’s efforts in creating more accurate results when a user triggers a search query. Entity and semantics search efforts therefore go hand in hand.

How can you partner with Google and ensure your site is semantics compatible? Because semantic search techniques use HTML to emphasize the focus, meaning, and overall content of site pages, you’ll need to review your keyword and meta data strategies to ensure you’re compliant. Most sites originally drafted this content as a means to define the overall theme and structure of the site – this represents a subtle but critical shift, so reviewing your SEO language is integral to continued success.

Long Tail Gains Momentum

Another trend from 2013 that’s likely to see an uptick in popularity is long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more lengthy 3-5 word phrases that target specific, relevant search phrases used to access targeted content on your site.

Long tails are likely to increase their SEO power for a multitude of reasons. For starters, searches are becoming more and more targeted. People are less likely to search for “shoes” these days, and more likely to get far more specific – such as “red high heel stilettos.” It’s also much easier to rank higher for long tail keywords, as they are far less competitive.

Most notably, however, is the shift towards a focus in entity search. Because entity search is a more exact way for search engines to discover the actual intent of the searcher, long tail searches will naturally become more relevant. Google and company are attempting to narrow down search results in a far more efficient and detailed manner. They can’t do this with generic keywords. The more specific and focused you become in your SEO efforts, the more likely you are to see stellar results.

Mobile Relevancy Will Continue to Skyrocket

Google’s Hummingbird update back in September of 2013 contained another essential ingredient; mobile content requirements. These days, if your site or content isn’t accessible on a mobile device, the search engines may deem it non-existent. All content you produce this year needs to be cross-device compatible. 33 percent of paid search clicks came from mobile devices in 2013 – this trend is only expected to increase, so your focus on mobile-friendly content should definitely follow suit.

Get Social, and Get on Google+

If you’re publishing content but not linking to it from your Google+ account, you’re missing out on some critical SEO benefits. With the new emphasis on author rank, Google is by-proxy encouraging marketers to get more active on their Google+ profiles and connect their content. If blogs and articles link to the author’s Google+ account, but a link doesn’t appear on their profile page, the author rank is not triggered. Author rank is another excellent element to good SEO, and can help significantly increase your reputation and credibility.

Social signals overall are bound to be even more important to SEO in 2014; as search engines are able to crawl more of these actual social sends, you can bet the algorithms will adjust accordingly. It’s also obvious that Google is not giving up on social network dominance, and they’ll continue to do all they can to make Google+ a relevant and popular social destination. Ignore these efforts and your SEO results may not improve.

Don’t Forget about Links

Many search experts have been sounding the alarm in 2013, announcing that link building for SEO is dead. Don’t believe the hype – Google continues to say differently. Why is link building still an important SEO focus? Because search engines still need context about the content you’re publishing, and its related utilities.

Link building is not just a mundane task of adding links to content, and courting the return. This also involves press releases, or advanced techniques like finding broken links on popular, high-ranking websites and filling the void with relevant content (called “broken link building”). All signs show that this un-sexy but highly necessary process still matters in a big way.

What other SEO trends do you foresee will be popular in 2014?


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Conscious online marketer, web executive, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney has been creating and fostering online innovations since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, and is a staff writer for SiteProNews, one of the Web’s foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She’s produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, influencer marketing, community management, lead generation, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, and accomplished life coach.  Learn more on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. Visit My Google+ Profile

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