How To Successfully Approach SEO in 2014
To say that 2013 was an eventful year on the SEO front would be a massive understatement.
With a barrage of updates, Google took their battle against SEO pros to another level. Yet again we found that Google’s ‘rules’ were being turned on their head. What was previously advice given directly from the horse’s mouth suddenly became a poison pill that could get your website penalized.
The SEO pros that were more aggressive with exploiting Google’s loopholes were forced to frantically try to clean up their tactics and undo mountains of past link building efforts. This was even the case for pros who thought they were playing within the rules.
So what should we be doing differently for SEO in 2014 to keep Google and our bottom line happy?
Keyword Rich Anchor Text Is No Longer Your Best Friend
It used to be that your link anchor text alone could drive your page to the top of Google. Now it’s one of the first places Google looks at when trying to weed out potential spammers
Link anchor text is still powerful, but you need to be more careful then ever. Not only do you need to avoid focusing too much on any single keyword phrase, but now Google also watches for any sites that focus too much on exact match ‘money’ keywords – phrases that are getting AdWords bids. I guess a certain company is trying to protect their cash cow.
It is getting more and more important that your anchor text is well diversified and natural looking. You can target specific keyword phrases, but you’ll want to use it as part of longer phrases. Using branded phrases is also a good idea as it gives signals that your brand itself is popular.
Is This the Year That Social Media Becomes a Bigger SEO Factor?
We’ve long heard that social media would soon be used as a major rankings factor. The spammers must be eagerly licking their lips every time they hear that. With all the social media automation tools, that would really open the door wide open to let the spam in. Obviously Google realizes this and they have likely even done some testing to see how it would affect results.
Despite this, it seems that Google is going ahead with making Google+ a bigger part of the algorithm. They must feel that they can properly track who is sharing what and who is possibly abusing the system. I wouldn’t count it though.
Regardless if the algorithm weight for Google+ activity increases, I do suggest you try to get more active on there. Now that Google Authorship is in place, we should see Google+ gain some momentum, at least with the tech savvy and online writer crowds…the mainstream audience is another story.
Don’t Ignore Your Website User Metrics
If Google is going to be able to shift away from the importance of backlinks, user metrics are bound to be a front runner rankings factor. Between Google Chrome, the Google Toolbar, Android cell phones and Google laptops, they have a decent idea of what favorable user metrics should be for any specific niche or keyword. Beyond that there is the activity that is logged if a user returns to Google shortly after to do similar searches or click on other results.
So you simply cannot ignore the importance of user metrics such as bounce rates, time of site, pages per visit, etc. If you care about conversion optimization, these stats are sure to be a top priority already. Who wouldn’t want to milk more out of their existing traffic?
The other side of this is your click through rates within search results. If a result gets a high click through rate it is in Google’s best interest to rank it higher. Vice versa for a result with a low click through rate. This is probably why we are seeing more sites ranking well despite having weaker backlink profiles than their competitors.
I Hear This Mobile Thing Is Pretty Big
It’s no secret that there is a steep upward trend in the usage of mobile devices for browsing the web. I have a feeling that Google may have noticed this too.
With this in mind you better make sure your site works well on cell phones and tablets. It should look good, load quickly and still be very functional. With the way the Google PageSpeed tool gives you separate scores for desktop and mobile browsing, they are clearly taking this kind of thing into consideration. Besides, if you don’t keep mobile users happy, it is bound to reflect in your user metrics.
Now might be the time to finally improve the mobile version of your website. If your site doesn’t even have a responsive design yet, you’ve got some work to do.
Of course there are other SEO areas that are going to change soon if they haven’t already. In the end it is all coming round to creating a solid user experience. Keep your visitors satisfied and Google will take note. Just don’t expect that to happen without some solid backlinks to build up some trust with Google. We’re still far away from backlinks going the way of the dinosaur. And no SEO is not dead yet either.
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