We all know that Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is an ever changing challenge. 2014 marks the start of yet another era for SEO. As there is every year, there have been some dramatic changes in 2013 and the next year brings more possibilities for every website.
The way people search is changing too. We’re moving from a keyword based search to a semantic search. The more ‘intelligent’ search engine algorithms become, the more likely they are to provide the correct page to the correct user at the correct time in the correct location.
All of these different aspects of any single search query are coming into play.
The phenomenal amount of data available to an Internet user is slowly becoming more and more connected. Search engines are beginning to make links between what users search for, how often, from where and how they structure their queries.
So here’s 5 things that I believe are going to have an impact in SEO in 2014. You might find other people think otherwise. Only time will tell what’s really working!
1. Mobile Browsing and Mobile Websites.
So many people have smartphones and tablets now. Our infrastructure is improving as well, with things like 4G starting to become readily available. This means our browsing experience on the move is always improving.
You would be a fool to think that websites don’t need to improve too!
We all know how frustrating it can be trying to surf a website designed for a full screen desktop machine on your substantially smaller smartphone screen. Similarly, I’m sure we’ve all complemented a mobile site at some point and said how great it was to use.
Responsive design is all the rage, it’s not complex to set up and it will adapt to (hopefully) provide the ideal experience for the viewer’s device.
Dedicated mobile sites are also fairly easy to create and can provide the best possible experience for smartphone users in particular. (You can even get a free mobile website with any .com or .net domain from Domainmonster.com!).
If the first time a potential customer or reader visits your site from their mobile, your site is unusable and doesn’t meet their requirements … what are the chances of them returning? I can tell you from experience it’s not very high!
Add this to the fact that when searching from a mobile device, search engines can choose to display completely different results, hopefully you’ll see why a mobile ready website is so important for your future success.
Actionable Mobile Marketing Tips for 2014:
- Ensure you have either a Responsive site or Dedicated Mobile Site.
- Implement Click to Call on sites dedicated to smartphone users.
- Speed test your mobile site using Google PageSpeed Insights – (https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/) and act on any suggestions to improve site speed
Advanced Reading – http://mobithinking.com/best-practices/mobile-seo-best-practices
2. Social Signals.
Social Signals, such as Facebook likes, Tweets and Google +1’s are already having an effect on SEO.
An in depth study by Searchmetrics showed that +1’s and Facebook Shares in particular are having a dramatic effect on search engine rankings.
In the future, most SEOs are predicting that this trend is going to continue. Social media is now probably the most common way for people to share content they enjoy online. Search engines realise this and therefore they’re ranking pages which people are sharing on their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds higher than those that nobody seems to want to share. It’s a fairly logical conclusion.
Any social media network you’re part of is extremely worthwhile as above anything it will help get your content out there!
Actionable Tips to Secure More Social Shares in 2014:
- Make sure you’ve created Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts.
- Use rel=author or rel=publisher on your site.
- Follow the advice in our Social Media Optimisation post.
Advanced Reading – http://www.searchmetrics.com/en/services/ranking-factors-2013/
3. Content Quality.
‘Content is King’ was one of the buzz phrases of the SEO world in 2013 and it’s going to stay that way into 2014!
How the quality of the content is judged though is probably going to shift slightly. We’ve already mentioned things like semantic search or voice search. It’s all to do with us moving away from set keywords into a phrase or query group which describes the topic we’re writing about.
The competition is going to keep increasing too! There’s so much content being posted on the web every day that you need to think about how you’re going to beat them and get those top rankings.
As we mentioned before, making your content mobile-accessible is incredibly important. Diversifying the type of content you produce will also be important. Studies have always shown that visually stimulating content is generally more engaging. All the accepted rules of good content still apply. The main difference is the quality and frequency of the content you’re producing. In 2014 you’ll need to produce better content more often to stay competitive!
A good content plan will always help. As will keeping an eye on other content producers in your industry or content curation sites. This is a great way to identify what kinds of content are working well for SEO and more importantly which kinds of content are providing the most use for your readers! There are loads of other
Focus on creating content that you know is going to be useful for people in your industry.
Actionable Content Marketing Tips for 2014:
- Check daily to see what kinds of content have performed well in your industry and keep a list of content ideas for the coming weeks or months.
- Don’t focus on a keyword, focus on a question or conversational phrase and create your content around it.
- Create higher quality content less often. Quality over quantity is the way to create your content in 2014!
4. User Experience Optimisation.
This is another aspect of web design or development which feeds into SEO.
It also ties in nicely with the content and mobile points we made earlier. Your user needs to have a great experience on your website.
If it’s difficult to navigate, there’s no call to action, they can’t find the information they need or it’s just visually unappealing, your website is not going to be successful.
Also, a good experience fosters more social sharing, better content performance and better conversions. It’s something you should have always been working on, but in 2014 it’s only going to become more important. Search engines are now taking factors like site speed and number of pages visited by single users into account.
The more effective your user experience is, the more likely users are to visit more than one page. That can only be a good thing!
Actionable User Experience Optimisation Tips:
- Make sure you have a call to action at the bottom of each page. Normally social sharing or commenting.
- Make your content more usable! Don’t use long walls of text. Break it up with short paragraphs, key points and images.
- Use Google Analytics or other visitor analytics package to see which pages retain the most visitors and which lose the most. Try and identify how you can retain more visitors on every page!
Advanced Reading – http://blog.usabilla.com/best-ux-articles-2013-usabilla-blog/
5. Make Use of the Knowledge Graph.
Google, the big dog in the search engine industry defines the knowledge graph as:
“a massive graph of real-world things and their connections, to bring you more meaningful results.”
It works well in practice too, providing Google users with much more information about their search query.
There’s no doubt this is going to have a big part to play in SEO in the coming months. The more information you can provide regarding the nature of your content and the things you’re referring to within your content, the better Google will be able to relate this to what users are searching for!
So how are you going to do this? (Apart from the normal SEO best practices of course)
Well primarily it will be through the use of Schema microdata.
This helps you define exactly what pages on your website mean, what they’re about, who published them and lots more information.
All of the information that you provide will be fed through into Google’s knowledge graph. The more information you can provide, the more likely you are to appear in the knowledge graph for a connected data item.
This really could go on forever. The size of the knowledge graph is ever increasing. Not only will using the correct microdata help your site perform better in search engines, but it will also help users get better search results! It really is a win/win situation.
You can read all about schema microdata on their website.
So there you have it.
Five things you can do to help rank well in 2014.
SEO always creates a healthy debate … so leave your comments below and let us know what YOU think will be important next year!