As we know, Google are constantly updating their methods and making changes to the way in which their search algorithm brings up results in the search engine pages. In order to keep up with these adjustments, approaches to SEO must be adapted so as not to get left behind.
As we reach the halfway point of 2014, this article looks into the developments in the SEO industry and the trends that have shaped the way companies are working.
Social media cannot be ignored as a means to get content out to a large audience, with the aim to create greater traffic back to your website. This year has seen a rise in the amount of traffic driven to websites through social media platforms, with Facebook referring nearly a quarter of all traffic that websites obtain.
If you are struggling to rank well in search engine results, this won’t necessarily translate to what you can achieve using social media. This is being used more and more throughout businesses as a fast technique to gain exposure online and drive people to their websites.
With confirmation from Google that they use Author Rank in helping to determine search rankings, Google Authorship is becoming more important. An increasing number of businesses have jumped on board, understanding the significance that authorship can play in search results.
Google aim to offer users the highest quality of content on which to click through to. To help achieve this they have begun decreasing snippets of authorship, meaning less search results that are seen with authorship information alongside them. This in turn makes for greater competition between authors of content.
In addition, we are starting to see a variation in what is displayed next to results in search pages. Google determine which results and which authorship details to display for each, by the level of trust and reputation an author has gained, and the quality of the site their work is published on.
We would strongly recommend that anyone who doesn’t currently have Authorship in place, to set it up now whilst the increasing theory around suggests that those without Author Rank will achieve a lesser online presence amongst the competition and become less relevant as a result.
Previously, the use of guest blogging as a means to build links and authority to a site was widely accepted and valued. However, at the beginning of 2014, Matt Cutts released a video explaining that the creation of guest blog posts purely to gain links would be considered as bad practise.
Having said this, not all guest blogging is considered bad. For instance, creating great content that’s written for the right reasons, that will help boost your business’ image and provide exposure for your brand, can still be seen as an effective way to gain a good online presence. It’s the spam-ridden, poor quality posts that lack in any value whatsoever to their readers, that are becoming an out-dated technique for gaining backlinks.
With an increasing emphasis being placed on the creation of high quality content that appeals to an audience online, it is becoming common place to implement a ‘content marketing’ strategy alongside an SEO plan.
By using the two in conjunction, companies should aim to produce valuable and relevant content, undertaken with a sound understanding of the right keywords to be targeting and who and what the competition are and doing. It is no longer applicable to focus solely on targeting a set of keywords and looking to gain top spot in rankings for those words. A long-tail approach should be taken, targeting lengthier and more relevant phrases to the user. It’s through this more targeted content that you will receive more appropriate and relevant traffic.
Content marketing can be used to effectively gain wide-reaching exposure online through a strategy that covers lots of target keyword phrases. From the exposure gained by the content, awareness of the brand is created, providing greater authority and trust to a business.
Sites that have proved successful are those which are always looking to improve and provide high quality linkable assets. These may be videos, white papers, tutorials or tools, all of which offer something useful and valuable to a user.
The inclusion of content such as this on a site captures the attention of a reader, who are more likely to then link to this, whether it be via social media, a blogging platform or elsewhere online. These natural links are valued highly by search engines, helping to improve a site’s ranking in results pages.
To stay ahead of competition and better what they are doing online, opportunities to create useful and linkable features like these should be constantly sought out, with consideration and planning on new ways to create engagement that will lead to exposure.
As you’ve probably heard, or maybe even experienced, Google’s Panda and Penguin update was brought out to clamp down on the creation of low quality, keyword-stuffed content and spammy link building techniques. Before this, getting content in high ranking positions was a lot easier, through means of creating links from multiple irrelevant sources and use of keyword-packed content.
Link building strategies are becoming more time consuming to implement, as only high value and relevant sources are searched out for possible link prospects amongst a vast mass of inadequate domains. It is for this reason that many companies are investing more into SEO for the link building and content creation that now requires more care and attention than it has in previous years.
Competition in search engine pages is becoming higher and higher due to most businesses participating in content creation to gain exposure. It is therefore no surprise that there is a greater demand for SEOs to then work on achieving good search rankings for this content.
SEO remains a highly valuable marketing tool in 2014 and although ever-changing, is sure to continue providing online presence and exposure for some time. As long as content is being created online, there will always be a need for SEO in getting it seen.