January 13, 2014
2013 has been a tumultuous year for content marketers and SEO whizzes. The expansion of Penguin and Panda coupled with the launch of Hummingbird has shaken up much of the conventional wisdom regarding SEO marketing and shattered many of the shortcuts and tricks used in years past. With 2014 right around the corner, take a moment to assess the previous year’s efforts and reflect on what changes may still be in the works:
Mobile Technology vs. Massive Content
Google’s constant SEO updates do more than toy with SEO marketers. Ultimately, Google wants to provide the best return link for a user’s question. This goal means that more detailed data reaches the upper echelons of search engine returns. A study done by QuickSprout founder Neil Patel found that copy that ran around 2,000 words consistently landed on the first page of search results and, anecdotally, longer copy generated better leads and more response.
In many ways, the emerging importance of mobile content runs contrary to quality, in-depth content production. Mobile users need short, snappy content that can easily be navigated on a small screen. While full blown recreation of content into smaller bites for mobile users seems time consuming and like unnecessary work, bridging the gap between emerging technology and full screen marketing is a challenge marketers will face in the coming year. SEO marketers in 2014 will need to balance the importance of in-depth content with the short attention span and small screen size of mobile users.
While Google has chosen not to disclose the exact system for ranking webpages, the importance of Google+ and Google Authorship became ever more obvious in 2013. The unique URL provided to content published on Google+ creates more backlinks to work with, and the respectability of Google Authorship increases the amount of clicks produced from a search.
Climb of Visual Media
The way Internet users are gathering and sharing information has shifted slightly in the past few years. No longer is straight content enough; instead, sites like Pinterest and Instagram deal in visual content. While this, at first, seems outside the realm of content production, marketers need to continue developing links between content and pictorials.
Topic over Keyword
Hummingbird’s release also coincided with Google’s switch to a 100 percent secure search. SEO marketers who hadn’t responded to the increasing return of “keywords (not provided)” seemed blind-sided as a longer start date was expected. Still, the launch of Hummingbird fully switched all successful SEO marketers into thinking about organic keywords and informative topics rather than trying to punch a keyword into an article 20 times.
In this new year, this switch will only become more prevalent and important. No longer will information-scarce but keyword-rich content be highly regarded. Instead, marketers will need to provide quality content that fully explores the topic without a focus on a specific word.
Guest Blogging Still Rules
Guest blogging has grown from a sometimes hobby of niche blogs to a verified SEO marketing strategy. Despite the time and effort it takes to form relationships and seek out willing participants, guest blogging will continue to grow in 2014. The importance of links for rankings and the positive results seen from expanding an audience makes guest blogging the most straightforward route to search engine success.
While the catch up game has been extensive in 2013, SEO marketers in 2014 can at least rest assured that all search engine updates are moving in a specific, easily defined direction. While past years have required marketers to relearn the game, 2014 should be a year of gentle transitions to get content more in line with the ultimate goal of providing quality information to specific user questions.
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.