SEO is constantly changing as an industry, with new techniques and priorities being unveiled with every update of Google’s algorithm. A lot has changed since January, so we thought, as we reached the mid point of 2014 that we’d provide a little recap of where the industry stands and what does and doesn’t matter in regards to optimising your site.
At the start of the year we wrote extensively about what 2014 might have in store for SEO and online marketing in general. We like to think that we have been mostly correct in our reflections, but with the advantage of hindsight we can get a better sense of what is really going on.
A couple of big things have already happened this year.
- On his personal blogs Matt Cutts declared guest posting as a dead practice and advised those looking to improve their SEO to stop seeking links through this means. There has been a lot of speculation into whether he is correct. Many do suggest there is a correct way of pursuing guest blogging but with so many engaged in the practice, is is leading to a rise in spammy links and content.
- Panda 4.0 and Payday Loans 2.0 updates provided additional means to quash the black hat SEO techniques. The panda update sought to judge content quality penalising those who had been creating duplicate content. The Payday Loans update sought to penalise those who had rose in SERP rankings at an unnatural speed through the attainment of spammy links.
These kind of updates have really honed the focus of online marketers. Though things have undoubtedly changed, the focus on content and creating decent content is still as important as ever, maybe as important as it has ever been. It is still in a website’s interest to create content that is unique to them that is designed to be read specifically by your target audience. Similarly, if you can get links to this kind of content from high quality resources it will also affect your positively.
Is guest blogging done?
Matt Cutts assertively told us to ‘stick a fork’ in guest blogging based on the notion that it has become corrupted by black hat SEO techniques with too many people doing it and too many people doing it wrong. Outreach and content marketing has become the most time consuming practice for SEOers, but has become a necessity over recent years. This has led to a rise of an entire industry surrounding the provision of content and links through literally thousands upon thousands of websites.
As Matt Cutts says it started off as a legitimate practice, but since it is relatively easy to perform, everybody has jumped on the bandwagon. It is likely that the Google web team are going to divert their energies into figuring out how to stop spammy practices. In a later blog, Matt Cutts also stated that the sanctity of the link to Google’s algorithm was going to remain a pivotal focus throughout the foreseeable future, so it is reasonable to assume that if you create decent content for a high authority resource that will still be favourable upon your SEO efforts.
A greater focus on content.
The need to create high quality content designed to engage audiences is still the constant rule of online marketing, as it has been for all marketing practices since time immemorial. We have already seen the trend of big content or hosted content that marketers have been pursuing over the last year or so. The idea is to create long form content that takes up more resources to create but will be more readily consumed by an online audience, the risks are high but the rewards are great. There has even been an argument that this form of content may even kill off the formal website as we know it!
In the shorter term, you are still going to want to find links to support your big content. But with the whole practice of outreach under question, individual page metrics are going to factor into how a search engine will judge individual pieces of content. In our experience even the websites with a good DA (as high as 80) can be backed by a number of black hat SEO techniques which can hurt overall efforts. We really have to know the authorities of whom want to connect with in terms of link building, which is why a more PR approach is preferred in online marketing.
Adapting Web Presence for an Increasingly Mobile Audience.
No one can deny that the rise of smartphones and tablets is greatly changing the ways in which people interact online. It is pivotal that your website is adequately set up for a mobile audience, this means a responsive scalable web design and plenty of interconnected elements with social media platforms. Statistics have shown that conversion rates do rise when a site is responsive, making yourself appropriately accessible across all devices is a good way of connecting and engaging with your audiences.
At the same time, mobile is opening up new opportunities for locally based companies. The majority of internet users when searching for service providers will be looking for local businesses. This means that you really must cement your digital presence upon a regional basis. This can mean getting yourself registered on google maps, it also means concentrating your efforts to rank in regionally based keywords, so you are visible in the SERPs based on local queries.
We already mentioned that it is important to get located on google maps. In addition, it has become increasingly important to fully establish your google presence. If you have a google account, make sure you have a Google+ profile set up and make sure your profile is connected to your blog and other resources where you are writing. This will emphasise you as a bonafide author, your name and profile pic a constant link to you and your content. This in itself can really promote brand awareness, putting a human face to your brand. The audience gets to know you as a person before they are brought into realisation of the services or products you provide.
These are the fundamentals of SEO as of mid June 2014. SEO is constantly changing however, so make sure you stay with us as we make sense of it all.