With the new year almost upon us (where did 2013 go by the way?), we thought now would be a good time to give you our SEO predictions for 2014. Although we’d like to think our predictions will be as accurate as possible, the unpredictability of the big G can always ruin everybody’s plans. We’re sure some changes will happen along the way, but we do believe that the elements below should be part of your SEO strategy next year.
First of all, let’s just remind ourselves of something important – despite some alarming articles in the past year, SEO IS NOT DEAD, and if it was we’d probably be out of business. Now that’s out of the way, let’s get on with the good stuff
Onsite optimisation has been, and will probably always be, a constant in search engine optimisation. Producing optimised copy and ensuring all your pages have unique titles, descriptions, keywords, h tags, alt tags…remains a core part of good SEO.
So keep optimising your website, whether it is for a product page or a blog post, as this will add to your search engine relevance. Onsite SEO also encompasses more technical elements like xml sitemaps, robots.txt, sitespeed to name but a few, so work closely with your favourite web developer to ensure that your content as well as your site’s code are clean and search engine friendly.
Link building isn’t dead either!
Link building has evolved a lot in the past few years and Google has become extremely good at identifying “spammy” links, and penalties have been coming thick and fast. Phrases like “link earning” have been coined to more accurately define the activities aimed at generating inbound links to a specific website. Two words spring to mind when thinking about link building in 2014: quality and relevance. Always try to get links from quality websites and remember that the more relevant they are to your business or your industry at large, the better it is. Things like guest posts, blog comments and directory submissions still work, but they need to be done sensibly and without necessarily thinking about SEO. Instead think more about what your audience would like to know about and add to online conversations to earn links. (Read more about link quality.)
Social media (Google tools)
Google has really expanded the range of elements it incorporates in its ranking algorithm in 2013 (see last month’s post), and a strong social presence is highly recommended to get the best positions in the search engine results pages (SERPs). I guess an easy starting point would be the creation of a Google+ company page for your business since it is after all a Google product. A Google Places account is also a must, especially if you operate at a local level, and these are now conveniently linked to Google+ profiles (read our post on local optimisation). The good point about these Google account is that they will also help you expand your paid search campaigns if you use Google Adwords.
Ok by this point you must be thinking that we’re sponsored by Google or something, but we’re not. It is just a fact that most SEO activities revolve around Google as it covers 90% of searches in the UK (and Europe).
Social media & content marketing
Google is also now looking more closely at social signals and authority in the market, so it is very important to allow your audience to socially engage with your content by sharing, linking, following and ultimately recommending. And how do I get them to do this I hear you ask? well the simple answer is by producing relevant and engaging content that is valuable to them. Easier said than done as this requires resources, but it can bring great returns. And once you have good content, share it as widely as possible via your social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, Pinterest….
Other SEO considerations
A few other things, slightly more technical, have popped up in 2013 and will certainly play a growing part in the SEO equation in 2014:
- Authorship – a way for Google to establish a link between content producers on a website and their own Google+ profile in order to provide related results in the SERPs. So for example if you produce regular content for your website (articles, blog posts, guides) it is a good idea to link this content to your official Google+ profile (branded if possible) so that Google can display more of your content for a search on your name.
- Rich snippets – rich snippets are extra bits of information that can be displayed in the SERPs for concert dates, product reviews, prices…in order to enable Google to display this information, you’ll need to add some HTML markup to your site. This has some SEO benefits but is also a great way to provide users with more relevant information and hopefully increase click throughs to your website
We hope that the points above will put you on the right SEO track for 2014, but in any case we’re here to help if you need, so get in touch.
Enjoy the holiday season and see you in 2014!
About the author
Etienne is the Head of SEO here at Mahon Digital and he’s been involved in the digital & search marketing industry for nearly 11 years now, working for small family owned businesses as well as international FTSE 500 companies. He’s passionate about all things digital, but more specifically about digital & search strategy and marketing analysis.