How to Dominate the Search in 2014
The 20 Essential Factors of SEO for 2014!
As search engine algorithms evolve into smarter filters, the task of search engine optimization becomes more and more challenging. Especially for those who earn their bread and butter by configuring online content for SEO purposes. To give you a glimpse of how hard SEO really is, the Overlord of Search a.k.a. Google, makes around 500 adjustments to their search engine algorithm each year and of late, Google’s ambitions of making their algorithms smart enough to let in only high quality content means that it’s a evolve or die situation for SEO specialists everywhere.
But wait, this blog is not here to bring you visions of doom, but the solution to how one can optimize their web pages to make it even more search engine friendly in the coming year. So, the following lines are going to be all about the fundamentals of the SEO process and how anyone can get the best results when it comes to their website’s ranking.
The Search Engine Evolution
This past year (2013) was called the year of surprises, mainly because Google released not one, but three major algorithm updates, which were, Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird. And SEO the world over received the kicker in the form of a total revamp of how online content should be optimized. For example, first keyword density meant everything when it came to content writing, as a matter of fact, keyword density was so critical in getting the desired results on the SERPs that it was placed above the actual quality of the content. Then everything changed, which brings us to today, where keyword density means two things “diddly” and “squat.” Thank you Google!
Since we’re talking about SEO content and search engine rankings, why not continue with the ways in which SEOs can juice up their online content to make it more search engine friendly. As mentioned earlier, gone are the days when stuffing content with keywords meant reaching the top of the SERPs. Nowadays quality matters, both to the search engine and the searcher. In other words, the new SEO is all about satisfying the need of good quality content rather than having to depend of generic keywords.
And great content is about coming up with genuine and unique information, which not only satisfies the searcher’s need for informative content, but also doesn’t disappoint when it comes to engaging the reader. Today, SEO is all about producing the content that stands out from the crowd, not as a sore thumb, but as credible and authoritative source of information. So, “where does one begin?” is the right question.
Why not start at the fundamentals, just for the heck of it. First off, as The Moz Blog contributor, Gianluca Fiorelli puts it so eloquently, what she’s saying is that the lives of SEOs won’t change drastically in the year 2014, so there’s really no need to panic about the fact that everything you knew from a year ago is now obsolete. That’s really not the case. The only real change to the way search engines rank content is that they now prefer quality over quantity or keyword stuffing. How does one create great quality content? You ask. Well, let’s dive right into it shall we.
Needless to say, one needs to know their audience no matter what business they’re in. As an SEO specialist, one should try out ways in which they can know who their target audience is more intimately before beginning to create ideas for the content you are going to post online. This means that preferably an SEO must know their target audience demographic inside and out. Some of the questions that will force you to lean in and take a closer look are;
- What do they need?
- What motivates them to buy online?
- What issues bothers them?
- What sort of content people enjoying reading?
A successful and smart SEO expert will always dig deeper until they find the answers to all of these questions and then some. By making your online audience your focal point, one can gain more intimate information of their habits, desires and needs. So, stop thinking of your audience as just an audience, but rather people, just like you and me, who have the same problems and want to find the solutions to those problems by taking advantage of social media outlets.
Keywords: Crawl, Capture and Display
Back in the day, keyword insertion was practiced by SEOs like a science. By strategically placing keywords in the content, SEO specialists were able to sometimes guarantee prime real estate on the SERPs. But that was yesterday, algorithms are a lot smarter today and have the ability to mix and match the order of words and even recognize synonyms, which is why SEO is now considered as an art form.
In other words, well written content can be described as the meat in our meals while keywords are the veggies, still important for a balanced diet, but not a central part of a carnivore’s meal.
Does Word Count Even Matter?
In the coming year, it will be wiser to concentrate more on the quality of the content rather than the word count. That being said, short and sweet marketing pitches just don’t kick it any more, instead searchers prefer the long, educational and informative sales pitches, which gives them information on the product or service they are about to buy online. Having a well written piece will not only capture the attention of your online audience, but will also provide them with the much needed information which they seek to make a more informed decision. So, go for more meaty content in 2014 and don’t sweat the word count.
To give you a picture of how important word count actually is to Google, QuickSprout.com carried out a study which indicated that content ranging from 1500 to 2000 words will fare better than online content containing 500 words or less. And wait there’s more. The amount of Twitter users who share longer blog posts, that is, over 1500 words, have doubled during the past few months alone, which is proof that searchers look towards more informational content.
Quality Content is Still King
The phrase “Content is king” is one that everyone is familiar with, but in 2014, “Quality content is king” when it comes to search engine optimization. To make sure you’re on the right track read the following;
Needless to say, the content that you produce for your business website must be relevant to the products or services you provide. If it’s not, don’t bother. For instance, if technical support is your niche, don’t fill up your webpage with information on quality design tips, this will only confuse the reader and make you look unprofessional or worse, an idiot. The only reason why a searcher landed on your webpage is because they wanted to know more about tech support, not about how to create cool graphics. Confusing your audience with irrelevant information will only annoy your audience who will click off your website never to return again.
Good quality content offers value in the form of good, insightful information. People don’t just want to hear a sales pitch, they want to know how your product or services are better than the rest and how it is going to change their life. The best way to do that is by giving them the information which they need to make a more informed decision, which will at the same time, motivate them in to buying your product or service.
Good quality content means, content which engages and compels the reader to take action. Nothing can capture the attention of the searcher and keep them coming back for more than good quality content that is brilliantly written, compelling and engaging to the reader. In a nutshell, quality content is all about giving the reader something which they can relate to.
Producing well written content basically means that your content has no mistakes. Nothing turns the reader off than visiting a web page which contains grammatical and spelling errors. To avoid this, you should proof read the content before its uploaded on the webpage. Online content which has spelling, grammar and formatting errors will not only make you lose your online audience but will also decrease your ranking on the SERPs.
Social Media Increases Rankings
In 2014 social media will matter. Why? Well, because Google will be including social media presence as they calculate the overall optimization and the rank of a particular web page. This means that creating a few online profiles won’t be enough, one would have to be active in those social media outlets as well. What this means is, the more active and engaging your social media presence will be, the more it will contribute to your rankings on the SERPs.
Let’s go through four fundamentals of SEO social media practices:
You would never organize a party and not talk to any of your guests now would you? Social media works in pretty much the same way. Once you have gained a formidable presence on a social media outlet, you will need to mingle with your new found followers and start up a conversation which relates to your brand. So, in 2014, stay engaged.
Social media outlets are not just for self promotion, as someone who is looking to generate traffic towards their website, you will need to sprinkle your content with special offers, webinars and other special deals to allow lead generation.
Do you use dental floss when you feel like it? No, you use it every day because it’s food for your teeth. Social media works in a similar way, the more frequently you post engaging and compelling content, the more your followers will grow and the more you will be able to create more ‘shares’ and ‘likes.’
Constantly blasting notifications after notifications will only make you look like a spammer, even if it is relevant to the product or service you are trying to push online. Instead, only share information which informs and educates your audience.
SEO Link Building Tactics
Link building tactics although extremely useful, comes with a warning on the label which reads; “Don’t be spammy.” Allow me to explain, building links just for the heck of it will only put you on the Google Offenders list, so before that happens try these tips for SEO best practices.
Build a Resource
There is a good reason why blogging is considered as a good technique for link building. This tip has even been passed out by the brains at Google. The reason being, that blogs can be used to steadily publish the information which is relevant to your business. The trick here is to come up with entertaining yet educational material for your personal blogs, then build links to your posts by sharing them over social media.
The great thing about having great online content is that it encourages linking from outside sources. That means that you can stay newsworthy by offering great content along with free giveaways, new product deals and special promotions. The bottom line is, the juicier the content, the more newsworthy it will be.
Everybody loves an inspiring story. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside. By creating content that inspires people to take action you will create natural link-bait for those who want to share your content with others.
Another solid way of encouraging links is by the use of partnership badges. Everybody likes to showcase who they like to support. Maybe it’s your favorite sports team or maybe it’s a non-profit within your community. Whatever it may be offering a partnership badge you will actually be encouraging them to show off their love for your product.
Using (Free) Available SEO Tools
2014, means that we have some great SEO tools at our disposal and the most awesome part is that they are all free (well most of them!). So, some of the must-try tools for SEO in 2014 are as follows;
Using Google Authorship is a no brainer really. The search engine giant is basically handed you a easy to use and did I mention free tool that when set up properly will allow you to create an automatic author biography page link for every page you post online. The links that it will create will be visible on your Google+ account along with your profile picture smack at the side of your content on the SERPs. Now that’s authorship for ya!
The MozBar is a toolbar designed to make the SEOs world a bit easier than it already is. It makes choosing quality links so much more easier and the readable interface includes everything an SEO can dream of from in-depth SEO information to much more. And the best part is that it is free to download and use, especially when it comes to link building.
Wordstream is a great tool for doing keyword research. Although keywords aren’t making a big impact in SEO nowadays, they are still important to ensure that the searcher from your market niche makes it to your website.
But Wait, There’s more…
Well, so far, great content writing has a lot to do with the tips given thus far. But there are two more tips that cannot be undermined at any cost in 2014. And they are;
For your content to have a prayer when it comes to getting prime real estate on the SERPs, it has to be completely original. And if you are already using the services of plagiarism software, then you are one step ahead of the rest who aren’t.
In the year 2014, one thing is certain, the copywriter, preferably a professional one will be your best friend. An experienced copywriter can create the content which will add quality, depth and character to your website.
While SEO practices haven’t changed much, per se, the subtle changes in the coming year will be the ones to look out for. And as search engine algorithms grow smarter, SEOs need to stay updated with the latest search engine optimization techniques in order to survive.