This year was an exciting one for Search Engine Optimisation, and 2014 is shaping up to be even more exciting! Here are my top tips and techniques to help you get ahead in the SEO game in 2014:
Content: Quality, Quantity and Variety
Never before has producing content been as important. In the not too distant past one could play the scraping game and repurpose other people’s content as their own. Or just rehash the same stuff over and over, tweaking the keywords each time. Google is now getting better and better at detecting duplicate content. If you play this game, you will get caught and you will suffer. It’s not worth the risk.
Commit to a regular publishing schedule, and follow that strictly. I’ve built stacks of websites over this last year, and the difference between 10,000+ uniques a month and 100 uniques a month is regular, quality content.
The major change in the content game in 2014 is the types of content you need to be producing. Video will be hugely important. Right now, producing video for keywords is a good way to hit to first page of the search results without trying too hard. This will get harder as more people work it out, so it is worth cementing your position right now.
Ensure you are producing not only text and photos, but also video, audio, and whatever other forms of content come along. Why? Google is increasingly adding video to the top of their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). While there is less video content, it is easier to get ranked in these higher positions. 2014 will be the year when this truly takes off, so get started now.
YouTube is a great place to distribute your video content, but you can also share it via your own website to get the full benefit. Ensure you place the appropriate rich snippet HTML code in there, to get your content pushed to the top of the results page.
Be Authoritative with Social Signals
It’s important to be active on social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google+. While we don’t know for sure how these sites affect rankings, we know for sure that in 2014 they will be used increasingly.
Right now, your Google+ data can be displayed next to your search results. Having a picture of yourself and listing how many “circles” you are in adds authority to your listing in the results page. However, this sort of data also probably helps improve your rankings too.
Build an Audience
Google SERPs are slowly transitioning from a list of URLs to a curated selection of knowledge. They already have the Knowledge Graph, which will no doubt continue to improve and expand. The recent Google “Hummingbird” algorithm update helped improve the way context was parsed in search queries, which will no doubt help expand the Knowledge Graph’s use. This all means that we, the humble website publisher, can expect less traffic to trickle through to us and more to stay within the google.com domain.
That’s why it’s important you build your own audience. Create mailing lists. Get followers on Twitter, likers on Facebook, and circlers on Google+. Release an app. Ensure you can communicate and reach people without relying on fresh search traffic all the time.
Don’t Be Evil
Google’s long term mantra “Don’t Be Evil” could perhaps apply to us as SEO practitioners more than it does to Google itself these days. Ensure everything you do is above board and devoid of shady practices. Google is getting better and better at detecting low quality results, and penalising those who meet the criteria. Let the lessons of 2013 stick with you into the new year. Don’t be caught out by the next algorithm update or refinement.