Search engine optimization has come a long way since its inception in the mid-1990s. Over the years, increased focus has been directed to this aspect of website and content creation, as it’s proven to be the best means for websites to achieve and maintain organic rankings in the search engines. Though tactics have shifted from year to year, and search engines frequently change their ranking algorithms, one truth holds strong: websites with keyword-rich, quality content – both relevant to their industry while representing terms with notable search volumes – continue to see the best results in the search engines.
In reference to search engines, Google continues to be the largest and therefore highest priority for rankings and for staying up-to-date with algorithm changes. For the most part, these algorithm changes have been for the benefit of user experience. SEO has a “black hat” history where websites often used spammy tactics to stuff their pages with keywords and links as a means for ranking well in the search engines. Slowly but surely, Google has weeded out these less credible websites to allow genuine and more user-friendly sites to rise to the top. That brings us to the main game-changer in recent years that will continue to be a primary focus through 2013 and into 2014 – quality content.
When it comes down to it, quality content is what a user wants and needs. Google’s main goal is to allow users to easily access the information they are looking for. As a result, “keyword stuffing” has been pushed aside in lieu of genuinely great content. This content will need the proper keywords incorporated in order to rank, but this is now being done in a more natural way as opposed to the frequently disjointed flow of many articles and content written primarily for SEO purposes. Users are also more likely to share, link to and recommend content that feels natural and suits their needs rather than content that appears spammy or written by a robot. The key here is coming across as a real person whose goal is to provide legitimate and useful information to users.
With quality content, the better it is, the more likely a person is to share it. The rise of social media in recent years – primarily Facebook and Twitter – has shown that people are sharing articles and websites they find useful all the time. Social media marketing has become a top priority for many businesses. By exposing users to your Facebook page and connecting with fans and adding frequent posts, this helps raise your credibility and sense of goodwill toward your business. It’s also a great way to build a following, keep them updated, and have the chance for fans to share your links and recommend your business page. Social media marketing may be a main game-changer moving into 2014, as it’s proving to be one of the best and most efficient methods to acquire and retain fans of your business.
Links are still an important part of any SEO strategy, though the approach has shifted this year and will continue to shift in 2014. In the past, sites scrambled to acquire links from as many other sites as possible, even hiring “link farms” to acquire many links in a short amount of time. Google has limited the effectiveness of such “black hat” techniques, focusing now on links from authoritative sites. Again, the trend here is quality over quantity, and with links it’s no different. If your website can acquire links from authority sites in your industry, this tells Google and the other search engines that your site has credibility and relevance. As such, we’ll notice the new link building trend goes hand-in-hand with the content trend. Quality content will inevitably lead to natural links from other credible websites.
At the end of the day, SEO in 2013-2014 is headed in a more natural direction. The more quality and value you add for users, the more likely you are to succeed in the search engines. With the rise of social media, links will be attracted organically and people will be able to more easily engage with your business. Also as a result of social media, videos and infographics are becoming increasingly popular bait for link sharing. The main trend here is user-friendly content that people want to read and share. If you can keep up with that, then you’re on the right path for a successful SEO experience.