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The Difference in SEO in 2014

You know what will be the biggest SEO trend in 2014?

Integrity.

At this point, it’s unavoidable. If you want your site to rank well, you’ll need integrity.

Recent changes to Google’s algorithm like Penguin, Panda and Hummingbird have put a premium on providing useful content to users in honest ways. You can no longer sneak a useless site to the top of the SERPs with keyword stuffing and link schemes. Gone are the days of black-hat SEO, and it’s about time.

Remember how obnoxious it was to see a site rank higher than yours because someone used black-hat techniques? Ever get annoyed when someone disparaged the SEO industry as a whole because of a few bad apples? Thanks to the recent algorithm changes, there are new restrictions to prevent shady tactics.

Some view the restrictions negatively. The many changes have made some of the easy (black-hat) techniques not only ineffectual but damaging to SERP rankings. But there’s a positive way to look at it. With shady tactics now proving harmful to search rankings, there is no reason to spend your time and energy employing them. And having that extra time and energy is good, because ranking higher in SERPs now requires more work and thoughtfulness than ever before.

As search engines get better at delivering what customers want, websites will have to get better at providing the valuable content that gets delivered. This means you can’t get away with keyword stuffing or link schemes to artificially boost your site’s rankings. Now that cheap tricks won’t help rankings, the true cream will rise to the top. And if you want to be at the top, you need to provide valuable content that customers want. It’s that simple.

There are no more tricks, and for that we should be grateful. With such frivolous distractions eliminated by Google’s updates, we can now focus on the hard work of providing quality content to our customers.

Having reflected on and reacted to the major industry updates of the past years, let’s look forward to 2014: when hard work and integrity will yield superior results.

Updating SEO for Google Hummingbird

Another shake-up in the SEO world. Google recently released a new search engine algorithm called Hummingbird. This update has affected 90% of searches and focuses on conversational queries rather than keyword based queries. Hummingbird indexes websites based on how thoroughly they answer the searcher’s intent. Because of technologies like Siri and voice command, conversational search has become much more commonplace. For example, searches like “Mona Lisa location” and “Mexican restaurant Chicago” are being replaced by searches like “Where can I find the Mona Lisa?” and “Where is there a Mexican restaurant close to me?”

There are a few ways websites can update with Hummingbird in mind.

Optimize for Conversational Queries – Hummingbird reads searches and displays results based on the main intent of the query

  1. Throughout pages in the website, use conversational language when it is natural
  2. Use keywords that sum up longer search terms
  3. Create a variety of pages to optimize for different query types
    • informational page with informal language
    • A navigational page with keyword-rich messages
    • FAQ or Question and Answer Page with important terms or phrases used in questions.

Optimize for Synonyms – Hummingbird looks for not only keywords but also their synonyms found on the page

  1. Add additional keywords that often occur in similar contexts as the information on your page
  2. Look at the suggestions on Google Webmaster Tools for additional keyword and synonym ideas
  3. Go on to Google’s search engine bar and take note of the suggested queries
  4. Become an Expert in Your Niche
    • Apply for business list rankings on sites like “The Best of…”, “Top 20….”
    • Do competitor research to see which sites your competitors are listed on and then reach out to those editors
    • Examine your competitor’s backlink profiles to find more citation sources.
  5. Update Your Anchor Text Strategy
    • Go through each of your pages anchor texts
    • Change all of the keyword-driven anchor texts to meaningful and significant phrases

Like pictures? We found this infographic from our friends at Search Engine Journal.

Siri Says What? Voice Search and SEO

Voice search is changing the way that people search on the internet, and thus changing the game for SEO. Before technologies like Siri and voice command, people would search by entering specific keywords or keyword phrases into a search engine. Now, because of voice search, there is a shift from queries focused on precise keywords to a more relaxed and conversational language.

For example, if you are searching for a hair salon via voice command you might say “Where can I find a good hair salon?” But if you were doing a typed search on Google you would probably search something like “Hair Salon Chicago.”

This shift from a keyword search to a more conversational search means that the way that search engines interpret queries will be changing in the near future.

What does this shift mean from an SEO standpoint? SEOs will now have to find ways to have their information delivered when a conversational voice search is used, while still optimizing for regular keyword searches as well. This shift isn’t a negative as so much a different way of searching. Voice queries are very user friendly and normally produce search results more quickly.

Another change that will result from more voice searches will be that users do not need webpages to get the information that they need. Sometimes when we ask Siri or our voice command a question, they respond right back to us without opening a webpage. SEOs will have to find ways to still send traffic to their website when a voice command query is given.

Marketers as well will now have to track their results not just from clicks on a website but how many times a certain keyword or result comes up from a voice command question.

Another change in SEO that will occur as a result in voice commands is the length of query searches.  When someone is speaking out loud what they wish to search they aren’t thinking about precise keywords. Rather they are using their thought process and saying what comes to mind. This is typically results in a lengthy query. Therefore, search engines are going to have to change their algorithms to accommodate for these extra words that usually appear in a more conversational query search.

Source: Search Engine Journal

Content Marketing Tips to Keep Your Traffic Moving

Content is king right now. While there is still something to be said for link building (only the strong survive), expanding the content to your website, and making sure that content is worthwhile, is the way to go. In truth, your SEO efforts should have a blend of various strategies. Everything in moderation. But no doubt that adding great content that your users will care about on regular basis will only benefit your website’s value.

The DO’s in creating excellent content

Start building up your website –

  • Go through all of the content on your website and make sure that it lines up with the goals and purpose of why you created your website
  • Create a blog! This is very important in order to receive more backlinks, more indexed pages and in the end more traffic. Make sure to update your blog frequently.
  • Create a team or assign someone to keep the blog up-to-date. Have this team look over not only your blog but all of the content on your website
  • Use different content models such as comics, newsletters, infographics, webinar, open discussions, podcasts throughout your website
  • Include social media buttons at the end of your articles to make it easier for your readers to repost your content. Use only your 3 main social media platforms as buttons; having any more can be overwhelming to the reader.
  • Check your meta description tags and make sure they are compelling for people that are clicking through the SERPs

The DONT’s in creating content

  • Do not post repeated, meaningless, duplicate and boring content. Readers will not be interested and your articles will not be shared.
  • Make sure that your content relates to the overall purpose of your website

Create content that stands out                

  • Have a clear purpose in mind when writing content – Ask yourself: who is your audience, what are they looking for by reading your content, how can you assist your audience, and what your business is looking to get out of the content that you are writing
  • Create a strategy for the content that you display. Define the general theme or direction that you want your content to go in.
  • Decide how you wish to create, distribute, and maintain your content over time.
  • Create a performance metric to measure the success of your content marketing

Main nuggets of wisdom –

  • The main goals in content marketing is to build trust with your audience and create a lasting following with them
  • Think of your audience
  • Educate and help your readers with your content

 

SEO You Should Know – Videos for Great Content

Content expansion is the best thing you can do for your website right now, from an SEO perspective. Get creative and think of all of the ways you can add valuable content to your site that will appeal to your users. Have you thought about adding videos to your site? You should! Videos that peak your users interest are valuable, and can be more engaging than infographics and text.

When videos are engaging and educational for the user, people are more likely to share them.  The primary focus when creating a video for your site is to make sure that it is quick to load for the user, mobile friendly, and containing simple content.

It is not necessary for your video to go viral in order for it to get attention, or even provide a few links back to your site. You want informative videos that provide useful information for the people searching for your topic. Your content can target a specific demographic, and should engage your audience with the information. The method of relaying the information is up to you. Get creative in order to build an audience for your specific video. By discussing the subject in a unique or entertaining way, you can ensure more traffic for your topic, which can translate into traffic to your website.

When deciding which platform to share your video, most use social video platforms such as YouTube or Vimeo. These sites are perfect for getting your video in front of a large audience, and can easily be embedded on your site.  Videos related to specific search queries will often show up in the search results, and can lead to direct traffic.

The best option then when sharing a video would be either having an embedded link on your site through self-hosting or by hosting through a paid third party provider. Some examples of a video third party provider are Videyard, Vzaar, Vimeopro, Viddler, Wistia, Brightcove, Oculu, and Bitsontherun.

Ideally, your video becomes a topic of conversation, a shared piece of information, or a resource for topics on similar websites. Your video should be instructive, enjoyable, and to the point.

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