The field of SEO and internet marketing has witnessed a tremendous change in 2013. Google has come out a long way in eliminating most forms of web spam. The Black hat SEO industry has been blown away. This was good for genuine inbound marketers and white hat SEO's. There is an increased demand of knowledgeable, creative, passionate, results driving SEO's and inbound marketers in 2014. Moreover, an increased pay is awaiting the SEO industry due to the increase in the quality of work. So, what are the special skills that SEO's will need to sustain in 2014. Here are the top 10 resolutions SEO's and inbound marketers need to take in 2014.
1- Promote Brands, Not keywords
Google has become smart enough to understand exactly what the user is searching for? The “Hummingbird” update coupled with the “Knowledge Graph” has provided brains to Google for identifying exact identities which the user is searching for or talking about.
|Hummingbird and semantic search are the key players|
In 2014, playing with “keywords” will simply won’t give us the desired results. Google is looking for identities which it can trust and rely upon. Brands are set to rule the SERP’s. Promoting websites as brands will play a key role in increasing the visibility of a business on Google.
2- Become Mobile Ready
Mobile will slowly take over the desktop search. Predictions are that the mobile market will overtake the PC market soon. Strangely enough, many of the SEO’s are still relying on the desktop data and making changes on their website accordingly. Mobile is the future and the SEO’s need to think on it seriously. Google has already started making big adjustments for catering the needs of its growing mobile audience which rely on “voice search”. Changes like Hummingbird update, App indexing, Smartphone crawl errors etc. are key indicators that Mobile SEO is set to take over the booming internet marketing field.
|Mobile is the new platform for SEO (Image credit: websearchseo.co.uk)|
3- Work on Schemas
Schema is a set of vocabulary that helps the search engines to understand the contents of a web page in a far better manner than without the presence of Schemavocabulary. Adding Schema data using RDFa or rich snippets enables Google to interpret the contents of a web page in a similar manner as a human mind will. It is because of this reason that Google has started to increase the importance of adding Schema Meta data on the web pages in order to better serve the users.
Implementing Schema.org vocabulary lets you mark up the pages in a format well understood and preferred by the search engines. Major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing rely on the Schema data to read and understand the contents of the web page. Schema and rich snippets easily allows representing data in a well defined format for a variety of types like Event, Organization, Person, Place, Product, Reviews etc.
As shown in the example below, about.com uses recipe Schema snippets to display recipe related information on the Google search results. Google can easily display this search result for people looking for salad recipes with cooking time 20 minutes. This is the power of semantic web powered by Schema.
4- Earn Backlinks
Backlink was and will be the single most important factor for ranking in Google. Year 2014 is set to witness more creative link baiting strategies than what it has seen in 2013. The old strategies of creating backlinks will not work more. Instead, all the focus should be shifted to enhance the user experience and to gain as many natural backlinks as possible. Earning backlinks is an art and it’s not so simple. You need highly creative people who think out of the box to do this task for you. It is for this reason that SEO services cost is set to rise in 2014 as more knowledge and highly creative staff is needed to understand the working of the search engines.
The era of creating backlinks is over. Strategies for earning backlinks will stay here for longer periods of time. Some of the highly creative link baiting strategies like infographic, sponsorships, engaging content, PR sources etc will play a greater role in 2014.
5- Create Content that Generates Buzz
Content marketing has long become an inseparable part of any SEO strategy. “Content” is still the King. However, creating content which satisfies the demands of both the users and the search engines will be needed. Content focused around keywords will not do any good. Instead, semantically created content, keeping in mind the TF-IDF score and use of Schema vocabulary are set to perform far better in the search results as compared to normal content. User friendly content which generates a lot of genuine social shares and comments are more likely to be visible in the search results.
6- Become More Socially Active than Before
Social will be on a boom in 2014. Search engines will include social signals even in minute ranking sub factors. Hence, leaving out social media in your SEO strategy will be a big mistake. More enhanced and brand focused social media plans are required to grab the attention of people as well as the search engines.
Google has plans to focus on the identity relationships and social is the perfect platform to identify and compare the factors associated with relationships. High social share metrics like those of Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus will have an increased importance.
7- Stop Predicting, Start Testing
Technically more skilled SEO’s are needed in 2014. Gone are the days when only prediction can impress the clients. With the client’s becoming technically more knowledgeable, SEO’s need to stop predicting and start testing what works the best for a brand. Efficient and advanced use of Google Analytics is needed.
Instead of going with the word of your seniors, why not track data and do exactly what is required? You can do this by following two simple experiments namely A/B Testing and Multivariate testing which allows to identifying the pattern of engagement that are leading to conversions. You can run both these experiments using Google Analytics. More information regarding these 2 types of tests are given below:
A/B Testing - In this type of testing, we create one or more variations of our original targeted page and run an experiment displaying the original page as well as the variants to a certain specified percentage of audience. This helps to identify which page (the original or the variant) is leading to more conversions. After the successful completion of the experiment, a winner is decided and we make changes on the site accordingly.
Multivariate Testing- This type of testing is similar to A/B Testing, the only difference is, multivariate testing allows to track the individual elements on a web page that are leading to conversions. For example, a button, a piece of text, a video, an image, all these can be tracked to identify which element on the page is leading to more engagement and conversions.
Instead of just checking the traffic and doing nothing, SEO's should start running experiments that will help them to receive even more conversions than before.
8- Think Semantically
SEO’s need to start thinking more semantically in 2014. The big G has already started thinking semantically and the SEO community is smart enough to predict where Google is moving in future. Semantic Web SEO should start the habit of thinking semantically in the same manner as Google might be thinking while processing the user queries. Semantics is the branch of linguistics that is concerned with meaning. It can be of any type like lexical, statistical, structural, prototype etc. The semantic web makes use of components like the Resource Description framework and the RDF Schema for revealing the meaning of the data mentioned on the web pages. Schema stands for data about data and schema vocabulary like the microdata, microformats and RDFa are all parts of the larger Schema. The Facebook Open Graph Protocol also comes under semantics helping to link the contents of a website with the social media world.
9- Gain More Insights on Next SERP Rulers
Google SERP is continuously changing. It has changed tremendously than what it was 2 years from now. Further change is expected in 2014. SEO’s must understand how to leverage the existing elements or factors used by Google while displaying SERP. Some of the biggest SERP rulers that SEO’s need to be leverage upon is shared below:
Rich Snippets- As opposed to the normal text snippets that we normally see while searching in Google, richsnippets allows businesses to present the webpage snippet in a more informative way like adding ratings/ reviews’ cooking time, event date etc in the search snippet itself. Interestingly, brands that have started displaying “rich snippets” in the search results have witnessed an increased Clickthrough rate (CTR). SERP future is rich snippets and these can be implemented by making use of any of the 3 types of mark up formats namely Microdata, Microformats and RDFa.
An example of a rich snippet in the search results is displayed below:
Authorship- Google Authorship was amove by Google to move from anonymous web to named web. This was done to reduce spam on the search results. Websites need to add authorship mark up and specify an author of the entire website or individual webpage. This will help Google to identify the person behind the web page and rank that web page as per the “Author Rank” or “Agent Rank” of the author. This is one of the ranking factors that Google has already started using and will continue to test more in 2014.
Consider the example displayed below. Authorship actually helps to increase CTR’s.
Brands missing authorship must implement it as soon as they can. However, it’s worth mentioning that Authorship is one if the ranking factors and not the only factor that Google counts, so do not expect to see increase in ranking just by adding authorship markup. Also, recently, Google has decided to display only a few authorship results thereby indicating that spammy author mark ups will be ignored in 2014 and ahead.
In-Depth Articles- Google introduced thefeature of in-depth articles in 2013 where it started displaying comprehensive articles for broader meaning queries like “love”. An example of an in-depth article search result is shown below for the query “love”:
Web pages that had high quality comprehensive content in them, including high social signals and positive user comments are displayed often in this new section. SEO’s must analyze their strategy in order to display any website under this section.
QDF Factor- Ever thought of getting extra hits to your website by utilizing the QDF factor. QDF stands for “Query Deserves Freshness” and is one of the biggest factors for ranking websites with respect to fresh queries which gains trends in a single day or a week. SEO’s can make use of these short trend high traffic queries to transfer some extra traffic to their site. This factor is still underutilized by the SEO industry and the coming year can witness more experiments and changes so the marketers need to be prepared for that.
Knowledge Graph- The main brain behind the working of Hummingbird is the Knowledge Graph. It is a collection of real world identities and their relationships. Queries which involve identities of any kind are processed by Google with the help of Knowledge Graph. A deeper understanding of Knowledge Graph is essential in order to identify how identity level processing is done by Google and utilize it for the effectiveness of brands.
Local Carousel- The Google localcarousel is the replacement for traditional local listings. Carousel display local listings including customer reviews and ratings in a horizontal bar showing up to 20 results. For local queries, dominating carousels is what is required for an SEO. The factors which Google counts for displaying results under local carousel should be well understood by an SEO in order to get the maximum local exposure for the businesses.
Box Local Results- This is a new kind of local result display by Google where it shows the local details of the business as added on the Google local listings. Not all local businesses get a local box display. It is dependent on many factors like presence of local business on local listing sites, customer reviews, accurate address, accurate phone number, business image etc. Making a local box result come out effective and positive in front of the customers should be the responsibility of the SEO. So folks, gear yourself up and start taking steps.
Image Results- Google made several changes to its image search results display. SEO’s working on image search optimization need to upgrade their existing skill set in order to rank their targeted images on Google.
Video Results- Google has already started to display video in the search snippet. Factors like relevancy of video, video sitemap, video rich snippets, social signals, comments etc all will play an important factor in the rankings of videos.
10- Start Working on Universal Analytics
Although Universal Analytics is still an advanced concept but it will get more common in the coming years. With Universal Analytics, you can start tracking almost anything and because of this ability, businesses will find Universal Analytics a great tool to measure the behavior of their customers on all fronts. SEO’s need to track and identify the customer needs and make changes on the website accordingly. Universal Analytics needs an upgrade which is a two step process but considering the customized benefits it can offer to any business, it’s worth implementing.
Many of the SEO's need to upgrade to the Universal Analytics property in order to use the resources associated it. This new method of tracking data allows you to use the analytics by 3 different ways:
2- Using the Mobile SDKs v2.x and higher for tracking Android and iOS.
3- Using the Measurement Protocol for tracking digital devices.
Universal Analytics is the future, the sooner you try your hands on it, and the better it is for your career.
This is a wakeup call for all the folks associated with the internet and digital marketing industry to take these new resolutions in 2014. This will ensure a greater prospect for their career in the future years.
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