There have been so many updates in the SEO industry in 2013 that I thought I’d look forward to 2014 and give some focus to what’s going to remain important for SEO over the months to follow.
I’m sure that the final few weeks of this year will continue to deliver yet more change, opinion, assumptions and correlation-led guestimates on SEO, but let’s takes a break from the now and think SEO strategy ideas for 2014.
Like all of the brief summaries that I’m going to use in this post, social SEO covers a wide spectrum of topics, but the headline target areas to keep in mind include social shares and signals from social media.
Although we cannot attribute these areas (shares and signals) to causation, there is a lot of correlation between performance and social signals (Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus are some of a number of key platforms to which it’s worth paying specific attention).
Look at means of:
- Increasing social shares on site
- Increasing social signals off site
Also, pay attention to social engagement and associated (and often perceived) value provided.
What I mean by this is simply what can you do to positively influence the visitor satisfaction from your website. Specifically, I would want this to be data led (big data) and looking at a number of quality signals including; time on site, pages views, bounce rates, and so on.
NB. There’s so much more than this but when you start digging in the data you will decide your own user satisfaction KPIs
As a term, ‘audience relevancy’ can mean myriad things. In this context, however, I am referring to positively impacting on search query volumes through audience association and targeting of organic adverts. A key metric here will be click-through rates and perceived relevancy from search query through to click.
There is a bit of an ‘audience’ theme so far and the weighting towards this reflects my thoughts on the importance of this in 2014.
I don’t want to list lots of things on this topic as I think people overcomplicate SEO enough as it is – just ask yourself this simple question – ‘what do I provide above and beyond that of my competition?’ An even more poignant question would be ‘what do my customers/audience want?’
Keep your mind set on your customer/audience value and what they are telling you they want – don’t just copy everything else that’s already available and ‘tweak’ it. This is not unique audience value.
I really like the image below – look at the footprint your users are leaving through the data for your website and give them something back.
I’m going to keep this short. Think of this as building into your site assets that encourage natural/ organic linking. What I’m not going to do is prescribe what you should build and what will work best for you (if you are asking that question I’m guessing you have skim read the previous sections about your unique audience!).
There are easy starting points like free tools, tips and advice, whitepapers, guides and much more, but the real value is not in the ‘easy starting points’.
Google Hummingbird and semantic search
To summarise A LOT in a really small number of words, consider:
- The collective meaning on subject matters and less about a specific key term
- Genuine speech patterns
- User intent
- Solution-based content
This is closely aligned and intertwined with both the hummingbird and semantic search, but incorporates a logical next step too; considering the underlying relevancy between an initial search query and applying another layer of meaning from the surrounding topic.
To the user this means that they can use a single search query to resolve multiple potential questions specific to that topic.
If you are getting the sense that “real” speech patterns are becoming another theme then you are on the right track for SEO in 2014. Google Now brings spoken search to the forefront, along with passive or predictive search based on previous search behaviour.
So, for SEO, this means think of verbally led search patterns and delivery needs – again a move away from keyword focus patterns (and learnt typed search) towards natural and spoken queries.
Maximising the power of a brand and sending as many supporting signals to Google to identify the level of authenticity and value that the brand has with its audience is what we are looking at here.
Long form content
There are approximately 8 billion results in Google UK for this, so I’m not going to define it for you – just know it’s important and be creative it. Whenever you think about content, think about ‘unique’ and ‘value add’ at the same time.
We all know they are there, but so many sites exclude themselves from getting any benefits from them. Take an honest look at some search verticals below and think ‘can we get more visibility in these areas’:
• Discussions (groups.google)
Not buying fake reviews (this shouldn’t have to be said) but we all get these emails – ‘50 reviews for five dollars’. Just don’t, please don’t.
Real reviews only.
There are so many benefits from legitimate reviews that quoting a handful seems disrespectful – so I didn’t.
Mobile – although not referring to a means to get about in this context.
If you do nothing else with mobile and SEO, still look into responsive design and take a few moments to find out what mobile devices your website visitors use.
From this data, ensure that your site displays effectively on the most important, traffic-driving devices. While you’re there, keep an eye on mobile trend data too.
You may want to look into mobile event tracking with Google Analytics as well – especially if you have invested time and resources into mobile websites you will want to be able to demonstrate ROI.
Final tips for SEO in 2014
Don’t forget about Location/Place/Citations.
Remember on-page signals. There are lots of great SEO techniques and user experience exercises that work, and they will work for a long time to come.
Off-page signals, when done correctly, will be a factor in 2014 and onwards. Outreach, relationship building, relevant linking, mixed content types on external sites, longer form content on authority websites (and the list goes on) have always worked and I can’t see that changing.