6 SEO Trends for 2014 by Amy Harris
2013 saw Google busily updating their algorithms with the introduction of Panda, Penguin and Hummingbird, designed to target content, link and search quality – like voice search on mobile devices.
At the end of 2013 Google took the step that SEO professionals hoped would never happen, but secretly knew was inevitable; they made all organic searches secure, meaning keyword data is now ‘not provided’.
Without this data, site owners are no longer able to use their own web analytics software to segment users by keywords. These changes, combined with the exploding markets for smartphones and mobile devices, mean that the SEO landscape of 2014 has changed dramatically.
Amy Harris, Community Manager for business website Expert Market offers six SEO trends for the coming year:
1. Exploring a ‘Not Provided’ World
Google may be leading the way in hiding keyword referral data but they are by no means alone; IE10, Firefox and Mobile Safari have all followed suit. So in 2014 data will have to be viewed differently and new options will need to be explored.
With the new advanced segment UI, questions will be answered but in a different way as it’s the user rather than the individual visit that’s measured.
This change will be an important component in a new trend that will force SEO specialists to think differently about the data available. More emphasis will be placed on other sets of data like PPC impressions data, which could be the most accurate for identifying opportunities.
2. Content Marketing Grows Up
In 2014 Google will be looking for far more mature and well-rounded content marketing than previously. Existing content being used strategically will have to be re-evaluated and radically altered to meet Google’s demand for regular, helpful and highly-targeted content.
This will be engaging content, regularly updated and shared to prove that the site is alive and growing and has some authority. In short, the more effective your content is in addressing your audience’s most common problems, the more this will help your site ranking.
3. Social Signalling Will Increase
In the last couple of years, content from networks like Pinterest and Instagram have been fast following in the footsteps of social giants Facebook and Twitter. As the interest in social media continues, appearing on just one or two social networks will not be sufficient in 2014.
In fact, a study by the Content Marketing Institute reports that B2B small business marketers juggle an average of five networks at the same time. Again, it’s about knowing your audience and where they like to hang out beyond the obvious selections for your industry.
Profiles will become more crafted as search engines rely more and more on social signals being a human indication that a site is offering quality content.
4. Mobiles Will Greatly Influence SEO
The take up of smartphones and tablets, especially towards the end of 2013 means that more searches and purchases are being made on the move than ever before and the trend looks to continue into the foreseeable future.
As a result, mobile optimised websites will be a priority investment in 2014, as the outcome will greatly impact SEO rankings.
5. Long or Short? The Next Challenge
Over the years there has been a lot of debate and research done into whether long text-based content performs better than short, during which time the desirable length seems to have shifted from around 550 to 1,000 words plus.
In reality, the extra text could indicate a move towards more in-depth, and therefore valuable, content. It’s an important question because there is every indication that getting the right answer helps considerably towards converting visitors to customers.
However, the whole question has to be rethought in light of the current changes in SEO criteria and the explosion of mobile technology. It’s OK adapting web content for mobile devices, but will anyone want to scroll through 1,000 words on their smartphone?
6. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging has been very popular throughout 2013 and looks set to continue in 2014, as an effective way to build inbound links. The difference in 2014 is that the quality bar has just got a lot higher.
Spam-filled blogs and shot-in-the-dark article marketing will not only be unacceptable as serious SEO tools, but a site offering anything less than quality blogs and articles could now find itself being penalised in search engine updates.