Last year saw a seismic shift in the way Google determines website rankings. Unnatural backlinks, poorly written content and over-used keywords were all targeted in Google’s Penguin and Panda updates. For many webmasters, 2013 was a year of blood, sweat and tears as they tried their hardest to dig themselves out of Google’s penalty box. So what can website owners do in 2014 to ensure the coming year is one of success and not frustration?
Well, if you’ve always approached SEO and content marketing in a wholesome, organic way then hopefully making the transition into 2014 will prove to be one of ease. However, for those who ran the gauntlet and dabbled in ‘grey hat’ SEO techniques, these are the trends to embrace if you’re hoping to restore your reputation with Google.
Today, a successful SEO strategy needs to account for five things: content marketing; brand authority; mobile optimization; voice searching and social media sharing. If you want your website to succeed this year, you need to re-think your SEO strategy. So without futher ado, let’s take a closer look at the new SEO trends of 2014.
The importance of content marketing
Towards the end of last year, we wrote a blog post about how to write effective SEO content and this post is a good place to start for those new to the concept of content marketing. One of digital marketing’s buzzwords of 2013, content marketing isn’t just a passing fad, it’s here to stay whether you embrace it or not. The bottom line is this: in 2014, the most successful websites will be the ones that create relevant, engaging content that adds value to their industry. The more appealing your content, the more likely people will be to read it, remember it and share it. Which brings me to the next SEO trend of 2014: brand authority.
Branding speaks louder than backlinks
Considered by some to be the new link building, increasing your brand authority should definitley be on your to do list this year. Creating a trusted brand is becoming increasingly important in terms of SEO success as people engage with, share and buy from websites that they trust. One way you can increase the weight of your brand in 2014 is by claiming Google Authorship for the content that you create on your website. By connecting your content to your author profile, not only do you provide readers with your byline but also with a lasting, visual impression – your face! So make sure the camera gets your good side as people are more likely to read your content if they see your image beside your work.
Mobile devices are no longer the future – they’re the present
According to this infographic from Super Monitoring, 56% of people own a smart phone. As more and more people search online using mobile devices, the more important it becomes that you consider mobile optimization in your SEO strategy. Having a mobile enabled version of your website with a responsive design increases your potential visitor outreach. Having a responsive design means that your content will be easier to read, more digestible and visually more appealing to people accessing your site while mobile. And alongside the increase in mobile devices comes the important question: how will people search for information online in the coming year?
Short tailed penguins are out, long-tailed hummingbirds are in
As I commented on Derryck Strachan’s recent post: Copywriting Trends for 2014, I believe voice searching will start to play a more significant role in Google’s algorithms this year. One thing that Google’s Hummingbird update will focus on is making searching more human. We all know how difficult it can be trying to type on a tiny mobile keyboard or touchscreen, so what internet users are doing more of is searching using voice recognition. Have a look at your smart phone. You see that little microphone icon beside your Google search box? That could be the one thing that saves you minutes of frustration as you try to type out your search with those sausage fingers of yours!
As people start to search on Google using their voice, optimizing your long tail keywords makes sense as people tend not to speak in short keyword phrases but rather in longer, more human language. Bearing this in mind, Google searches will also be more likely to include actual questions rather than keyword searches. And let’s hope that Google introduces accent recognition too as my hybrid Glasgow/Edinburgh accent can be difficult enough for fellow Brits to understand, never mind computer search engines!
*Case in point: ‘The New SEO Trends of 2014′ in a Scottish accent, returns ‘Enough You Stranger 2014′ – not even mildly similar!
Social media is no longer just for ‘selfies’
With Google now analyzing human behavior more effectively, social media will play an important role in SEO in 2014. Tweets, shares, likes and pingbacks are all human evidence of a blog post’s popularity. If you’re still using social media to check what your mates got up to last weekend, then it’s about time you changed your relationship with social networking. Social media will soon go hand in hand with SEO to help determine search engine rankings and if you think Google plus is some sort of algebraic equation then you really need to reconsider your social media strategy. Seeing as Google plus is Google’s own social network, it can’t do any harm to increase your presence on the site.
So there you have it – my predictions for the new social media trends of 2014. Do you have any of your own predictions to add to this list? Do you really think voice searching will take off this year? And should I change my accent for the sake of Google? I’d love to hear your thoughts…