What Have Changed in 2013
- Panda Update 24 – Jan. 22, 2013 (1.2% of English queries were affected; confirmed, announced)
- Panda Update 25 – March 15, 2013 (confirmed as coming; not confirmed as having happened)
- Panda Update 26Google Panda Update 26 Officially Confirmed By Matt Cutts!. Read more ... » – July 18, 2013 (confirmed)
- Penguin 2.0 – May 22, 2013 (impacting 2.3% of queries)
- Penguin 2.1 – Oct. 4, 2013 (impacting around 1% of queries)
- Google Hummingbird search algorithm – Sep 26, 2013 (Officially announced on sep 26 but started to roll 1 month prior to the announcement)
- Two Google page RankWhat To Look For While Checking Authority Of A Site. Read more ... » Updates; one if February and one in December.
- Several other minor updates, maximum of them not announced officially.
What Changes Are about to come in 2014
- Mobile is the area where Google will focus in 2014.
- Refreshment of top heavy ads algo.
- Reduction of authorship by 15% and also rich snippets on site. This may come as a surprise but Google would be picky about it and what shows on SERP.
- Toolbar PageRank may or may not be fixed and Google don’t have any such plan to do it now.
- Google web spam team would work harder on Black hat hacking.
The above mentioned keypoints I have found noteworthy related to seo on a recent video of Matt Cutts on PubCon which you can Watch Here.
Strategies for 2014 Search Engine Optimization
Much has changed in 2013 and here we stand still looking for the safest solution for future SEO to remain unaffected in future updates. For detailed guidelines of 2014 SEO, we will go deeper in all possible aspects as we will mention in the post. Let’s get started and gaze at all probable ways to do safe SEO in 2014 bearing in mind all the changes occurred in 2013.
Content is the King and value it as such
Content has always been the king and would continue to be so forever. The importance of content can never be underestimated by anyone. In 2013, quality of the content has been a big discussion across the web with special focus on word count and deep content. There is no hard and fast rule made to judge the quality of an article based on word count. Based on several analysis, it appears that well written articles of higher word count tend to perform better than articles with small citation and lesser word count. However, don’t bother yourself much with the word count as quality of the article is what matters at the end. So to ensure that your article is of quality and well written pay attention to its grammar, spelling or how well it’s structured. After hummingbird search algorithm has been put into effect, many seem to believe that it might be the end of long tail keywords. Keywords will still hold its importance; it’s just that you need to create good content without abusing keyword density and providing citation targeting other long tail keywords.
Another point worth mentioning is the engagement of your content. It’s another metrics which can determine the quality of the content. If your readers are engaging with your content, then it means that it’s meaningful and helpful to your readers. Amazingly, it all starts and ends with the quality of the content. Google love fresh content and you should maintain freshness of your site/blog on hot topics which not only Google would love but also your readers and potential new readers. Publishing fresh and new content is a very good practice in terms of SEO and also to attract readership. However, don’t have the impression that more articles or more indexed pages would favor your site/blog for better rankings. Matt cuts made a video demonstration for this topic which you can check here.
Optimize Your Site With Proper On-Page Seo and Responsive Design
When it comes to on-page seo, I always recommend the practice of basics of on-page seo. Do it properly but never over optimize it. As Matt Cutts mentioned on the PubCon video about focusing more on mobiles and also about responsive design on a video on GoogleWebmasterHelp channel, so it’s very crucial that you always implement responsive design for the sites you have and sites you would build in future. You can find more guidelines about conducting best practices for on-page seo here. Just follow the basic on-page seo, don’t over optimize your site, make your site mobile compatible, know your keywords and implement them properly and you would be fine with your site.
True Power of Social Signals
The trending growth of Social mediaPinterest's Big Leap To Make Pinner's Life Easier With New Tools. Read more ... » and Social signals has been huge in the past few years and its influence is not only limited now to the huge traffic it can provide but also to its extension in the field of SEO. Social signal not only increases visibility, exposure and branding in online community but also it builds a strong trust among the circle it is engaged. Social media not only helps in communicating with large group on people in online community socially, but also helps in gathering and accessing news and content resource based on social content based search results. The roll out of Google Hummingbird gives a clear indication of how influential and significant impact social signals will have in SEO. It’s not only the number of the social shares which will determine the impact, but also the engagement of the people, the circle on which its shared and the trust of the author who is sharing. The sheer power of social media not only lies in its social reach but also in its marketing potential, repeated business and now influence in SEO. Social signals from Social media has now become a basic necessity from social reach to SEO ranking and trust.
Importance of Google Carousel and Structured Data
Tough all structured data hasn’t yet been considered to be a ranking factor of vital importance but its value can’t be ignored with the way Google is displaying results recently. The future value of Structured Data and Rich Snippets has already been rising and you can notice them in rich snippet SERPs and usage in social media sharing too. Let’s have a gaze at what they are and how they are important.
Google Knowledge Graph: - Google has launched Google’s Knowledge Graph on 8th august 2012 which has gone worldwide for all english speakers. That was a big move made by Google to just not provide links to the users but more information and answers to the subjected query. After the launch, Google thought of expanding it and giving it the name ‘Google Knowledge Graph Carousel’. Google has compiled over 3.5 billion of facts over 500 million of entities which includes information about and relationships. These facts and entities will grow with the passage of time. But if you plan on to get included then to your disappointment at this point of time there is no system to get yourself included. It is done by Google and Google alone. For more information check Google Knowledge Graph.
Lots have changed this year and a lot is about to change in 2014. With Hummingbird coming into effect, Google has become more intelligent in parsing data for users knowing their intent and interest. The results of knowledge graph results appear on SERP as Information box on the right, Information underneath search box, Horizontal carousel of results at the top or sometimes as combinations of them. Knowledge graph aids searchers to get information without visiting a link or to judge the value of the site before they click. Knowledge graph carousel has been extended to wider category like travel, hospitality, hotels & restaurants. The local carousel results has improved much with better user experience providing results with images, reviews, and a map. Analysis shows that Google reviews can impact in the placement on carousel.
Other results of Google Knowledge Graph on Google Search Engine
Structured Data:- Structured Data hasn’t yet been proven to be a huge ranking factor though its future value tends to rise and its use in rich snippet format and social media sharing has been increasing rapidly. Schema.org is a joint alliance which provides different set of microdata which is a structured mark up to provide semantic meaning to the content on the site. Check complete list of supported microdata types and syntax for it here. Implementation of structured data markup has been seen on all search engines and specially Google has implemented several type of structured data markup in several verticals to provide more information on SERP. Many experts don’t like structured data markup because they are afraid of losing the visitors. But despite that, structured data markup has many other benefits which is helping many webmasters across different verticals and also helping search engines to provide better user experience with detailed information to the searcher. Some noteworthy benefits are better visual experience, higher Click Through Rates(CTR), reduces bounce rate, more targeted conversions. Some of the highlighted social media structured data markups are FacebookWant To Become Famous On Facebook? Here are 10 Tips. Read more ... » Open Graph tags, Twitter Cards, Authorship, Publisher. There are many others, but the choice of which structured data markup data to use is solely the discretion of a webmaster.
Other Structured Data Which Are A Must Necessity
The choice of implementing the structured data markup is completely on the webmaster, but implementing them would always benefit a webmaster with regards to organic SERP results on Google or on social media. In some verticals, it’s an absolute necessity and if you are not using it then you are lagging behind time and technology. But, as mentioned earlier in this post, Google will strip off some structured data from its search results & would be picky about what they show on their results. Don’t get surprised if some of your structured data isn’t showing on Google search results. Below are the important structured data markups other than the one I have mentioned earlier.
- Facebook Open Graph tags
- Twitter Cards
- Google Authorship
- Google Places
- Business information
- Tables & Bulleted Lists
- Coupons & Offers
Social Media Is On The Rise – Build your Business, Branding And Trust
It’s not about ranking all the time, but social media is expected to have an impact on ranking factor in future. It doesn’t even matter if you are a small business entrepreneur or a large company, social media serves the same opportunity for all and at the end it all matters about how you maximize the profit from the opportunity presented in front of you. If you are thinking about the future then social media holds the most promising value than any other. So it would be wise to consider social media for long haul to build your business, create brand awareness, getting trust of your loyal customer and to make your presence prominent among your circle. Apart from that, social media can easily provide you with viral traffic which no other platform can do so easily. Make proper use of social media like Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, Linkedin, PinterestPinterest's Big Leap To Make Pinner's Life Easier With New Tools. Read more ... », Reddit etc and see your business grow fast.
Prepare Yourself With Google Author Rank
I have mentioned earlier about Google authorship and author rank here, now it’s time to explore it a bit more. Though it’s not a ranking factor yet like Google authorship, but its future-facing value can’t be underestimated because if Google decides to implement it in the organic search ranking algorithm then you must be ready to jump on it. Tough Matt Cutts recently talked about authorship, authority and subject authority at pubcon, but his statements are shaddy as it always has been. Mark Traphagen has beautifully described & illustrated Matt Cutts statements about Google authorship, Author Rank, subject authority and their future prospect on his blog, which you can find here.
Even though there is no such official Google Author rank calculator, but Mark Traphagen has developed his own Google Author rank tool which is still in beta stage and the runs a very big community of Google Authorship & Author Rank on Google+.
Here is my Author Rank using his tool. You might want to check yours, it’s a bit of fun.
Smarter Linkbuilding – Quality Over Quantity
Link building still remains the core of ranking algorithm. I have mentioned it several times that one should always build quality links. In long run quality over quantity is always a winner and it should be dealt with such delicacy to rank on the top of searches. You can check my previous posts on 2013 Search Engine Optimization Trends and Post penguin 2.1 seo where I have mentioned a great deal of information about what kind of link building still works post panda and penguin updates and how to work on them to survive future updates. The strategies remains the same. However, I would just point out and highlight some of them here. You can always check all my previous posts and make your own seo and link building campaign plans. It’s always better to have a good strategy rather than wandering here and there for backlinks. It will save both time and effort .
Matt Cutt’s personal statement on link building is: “No, link building is not illegal”. You are doing nothing wrong, as long as you are doing it with ethical white hat way and doing it by following all the guidelines of search engines ranking algorithm. Google consider 200 factors to analyze and rank a site or may be even more as I don’t think they would reveal all their factors they used to analyze a site and used in their ranking algorithms. Below are some noteworthy points which I would like to highlight, so that you can practice and implement them in your online SEO campaigns.
Relevancy And Quality: - No matter what niche you are working on, the only factor which can push your SERP rankings to a great extent with little effort is relevancy and quality of your backlinks. Quality backlinks which come from sites of relevant niche carries more weight than backlinks coming from sites on irrelevant niches. That’s the reason I have put this on the top of my list as it carries more weight than any other backlinks.
Authority of your site:- Few years ago, Google Pagerank Toolbar was considered to be only way to judge a site’s authority and its trust but it doesn’t stands as such as of now. Nowadays, there are several metrics which can be used to analyze a site’s authority which I have elaborated on my about post authority of a site. Increasing the authority of site will not only help you increase the value of a site but also can aid in you in gaining Google trust and better rankings. If your site is having good authority and trust then it’s likely to perform better in SERP. But, this factor is not alone enough for higher rankings but it’s a crucial factor which you should focus on along with other factors.
Use Anchor Text Smartly: - The use of anchor text has changed completely over past few years and after so many Google updatesGoogle Is Coming Big This Time With PENGUIN 2.0. Read more ... ». You have to use anchor text smartly to stay under the radar of penalty. You can get good insight with image about how to diversify your anchor text here but I would like to modify it a bit and limit the use of exact match anchor text only to quality and relevant backlinks. Excessive use of exact match anchor text will lead to penalty and I guess everybody would try to avoid it. I would suggest to use author name or publisher name as anchor text where it is necessary not just focusing on primary exact match anchor text. Use of varied anchor text (relevant and irrelevant) will always help you and would keep your site safe from penalty.
Create a natural backlink profile: - Some may argue and debate on this topic, but the truth is it varies from person to person and from webmaster to webmaster. This topic has always been controversial and will always be. By the statement “Create a natural backlink profile” I meant that, it’s a good practice to mix up the backlink profile with both do-follow and no-follow links to make it look natural. When, it comes to no-follow links, the debate will go on. Let’s put the debate aside and focus on the statement itself. Mixing up no-follow and do-follow links in your backlink profile will make things look natural to normal people and also to search engines. Doing anything in excessive isn’t good and can lead to monotony in real life and interestingly I have found it applicable in the field of SEO and the result here is penalty not monotony.
Smarter Content Marketing Strategy for natural flow of backlinks:- As mentioned earlier, content is everything and would stick to that. Craft content not just for seo, but for your readers. Produce great content for your readers, content which they will find useful, contents they will engage with and share if they find it worthy of note. That’s where smarter content marketing[Infographics] 25 Top Content Marketing Tools Every Marketer Should Use. Read more ... » strategy plays a huge role and will provide you with nice and handy flow of natural backlinks from the shares and engagement of your loyal readers. Guest BloggingGuest Blogging : The Best Practice To Do It The Right Way. Read more ... » can also be a part of your content marketing strategy[Infographics] 25 Top Content Marketing Tools Every Marketer Should Use. Read more ... » which will not only gain your new engaging readers but also will help you in becoming trusted author in your area of expertise. Don’t just guest blog for the purpose of getting backlinks, but provide valuable information through your content which will generate you of shares and automatic flow of natural backlinks. If you haven’t adopted this strategy yet, then its time you should else watch others to take a lead over you. I found this statement from Mark Traphagen quite encouraging and hope you will find it too.
Better to spend five days producing one epic piece of content than five average pieces that say nothing new or memorable. – Mark Traphagen
Other Backlinks Strategies: - There are many other strategies by which you can gain more backlinks but always ensure that the backlinks you are getting is really worthy. Spend some time analyzing a site before getting a backlinks from it rather than getting a backlink from a random site. Follow the checklist below before getting a backlinks (just the basics):-
- Check the authority and trust of a site.
- Check the site’s backlink profile.
- Check the site’s index profile on search engines.
- Check the quality of the content on the site.
- Check the online presence of the site.
- Make sure that site has higher authority than your site else you won’t get adequate amount of link-juice to your site to increase your authority and ranking.
- Make sure the site isn’t participating in any link baiting and link exchange because if that site gets penalized, it will harm your backlink quality too.
Final Thoughts: – SEO is not a product to be purchased with one-time payment and be done with it completely. It’s more like a practice and experience which must be conducted regularly to be in the competition and necessary steps must be taken to adapt all the changes around the search engines. When done right, search engines will definitely award it with higher rankings. Make it a part of your marketing plan and excel in whatever Google or Bing wants you to do. Embrace your business objectives for clients/buyers/readers and optimize for them in first place, search engines being the second. Fights against web spam and changes in search engine algorithm will go one; it’s like a never ending game of cat and mouse but the key to consistency is to keep yourself updated with latest news and follow the basics.