Thursday, February 27, 2014
7 SEO Trend Predictions for 2014
Of course it is impossible to make firm prediction about SEO trends in 2014 and we have all witnessed the constant changes Google is applying to its search metrics and methodologies. But after a bit of research through the many websites happy to offer predictions nonetheless, here are the key points I have come across.
1. Quality Content is King
Over the past year, Google has reduced the importance of keywords and phrases in preference to "quality" content. But what IS quality content, you ask. Well, to answer that in Google terms, you would need to have a) access to and b) the computer brain to analyse and understand Google's super secret algorithms. But suffice to say that if you follow Google's guidelines for the creation of content, you will be on the right path:
- Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
- Don't deceive your users.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you'd feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
- Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
- Automatically generated content
- Participating in link schemes
- Sneaky redirects
- Hidden text or links
- Doorway pages
- Scraped content
- Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value
- Loading pages with irrelevant keywords
- Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware
- Abusing rich snippets markup
- Sending automated queries to Google
For extra reading, check out this Hubspot article on "What Exactly Does Google Consider High Quality Marketing Content?".
2. Keywords Alone Are Not Enough
In fact, too much keyword stuffing can seriously impact your search ranking - in the wrong direction! That in itself is nothing new, however the focus on keywords has gone overboard on many sites in recent times. Whereas Google still advises us to think about the words people might use to search for content relevant to your site and to ensure that you include these in your page, there is a delicate balance to consider, particularly in line with the quality content directive above. Always ask yourself if your content reads naturally and try not to repeat the same keyword phrases to many times on the same page. If you can detect where you placed your keywords purposefully, then your readers can too, and nobody likes that.
3. Social Interaction Means Good Ranking
Stats gathered by Moz.com (a leading SEO software and marketing analytics company) recently confirmed that social interaction is a major ranking factor, especially with Google +1s (no surprise here!), with Facebook Shares, Comments and Likes as well as Tweets following closely. In the past, not so much attention was paid to these types of "endorsements" but the trend seems to be changing, so make sure you pay attention to your social media profiles, interact with industry leaders and share out your content via these channels.
Here's an interesting article by Moz on tracking your social metrics: "Social Engagement Metrics That Matter"
(image via Moz.com)
4. Mobile Optimisation Is Joining the Mix
There is a lot of chatter on the web that the mobile status of your website will begin to play a larger role in your search rankings over the coming year. This makes perfect sense! If Google is giving kudos to websites with quality content and design, it should also offer extra credit for the usability of a website - and mobile optimisation is at the top of that list. With mobile traffic set to explode over the coming years, having a website that is comfortably accessible from your smart device without the need for that formerly oh-so-cool pinch & zoom would be a distinct advantage, if not requirement. So if your current website is of the static nature, make sure to plan on implementing either a responsive design or some other form of mobile optimisation for its next incarnation. For any smart phone users out there, think about whether you yourself prefer to browse a website that pops up on your screen in perfectly readable font, requiring only a downward scroll or whether you are equally endeared by static websites that turn tiny on your screen and need you to be enlarged time and again after every page turn, scrolling left, right, up and down to get to the content you want. I doubt the latter is the case. So that means it's the same for your customers too! And Google will reward you for making them happy. Two birds and all that ....
5. The Popularity of Infographics
Have you noticed the ever increasing number of infographics popping up in social media and on websites? Infographics are images that outline complex processes or data in a graphical style that is summarised, easily absorbed and (arguably most importantly) visually attractive. Infographics about current social media usage statistics, business processes, technology trends, demographics and even infographics about infographics!!
So what makes them so desirable from an SEO point-of-view? Well, a good infographic will have done its job when it's gone viral. If it looks great and contains interesting information, people are happy to share it on. And going viral means lots and lots of links back to the website featuring the original infographic which search engines love.
(image via dailyinfographic.com)
(image via prnewsonline.com)
(image via hotbutterstudio.com)
For further reading, check out the "SEO Guide to Creating Viral Linkbait and Infographics" by distilled.net.
6. Local Search Continues to Be on the Rise
The Google Places Stats and Facts page says that “20% of searches on Google are related to location”, HubSpot even claims that it's 30%. And according to comScore, 56% of mobile phone users use their browser for local searches. This makes it more important than ever that you not only make sure your business is featured on all of the core business listing sites like Google Places (now Google + Local) but also that your site is optimised for local search, both on-site and off-site. There is an excellent article on HubSpot about "Everything You Need to Know to Dominate Local Search" but in a nutshell, here are the core points:
- Focus on high quality content
- Write about complimentary local services
- Optimise all of your on-page SEO elements: page titles, URLs, page headers, internal links and content
- Target location-based keyword combinations
- If you are multi-location, give each outlet it's own page on your website
- Write about local news
- Mobile optimise your website due to the high number of local search coming via mobile devices while people are "on the go"
- Make sure your business in registered on Google + Local, Yahoo Local, Bing Business Portal etc.
- Add your business to all relevant local/regional directories
- Be active in social media within the local community (stick to a positive tone and don't overdo it either)
- Post your content to social media for ease of sharing
- Consider guest blogging for other local businesses
- Get reviews from local customers
7. Pinterest Usage is Exploding
If your target market are women in particular, then get yourself on Pinterest pronto! This social platform has been growing consistently since its conception and businesses are waking up to the massive potential for branding and link building it provides. Your Pinterest boards can be used both to showcase your products as well as to represent a "mood board" for your brand via the images you repin to it yourself from other sources. So to finish off this article on SEO trends, here is a final infographic on SEO Tricks for Pinterest!
By Carolin Collins
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