What’s happened in 2013?
Further Penguin and Panda updates
These continued to eliminate websites that have cheated their way to the top of Google through buying links, using spammy anchor text links, thin content and so on.
Google’s new search algorithm focuses on answering users’ longer tail search queries more accurately. The algorithm pays more attention to each word of the query to understand its whole meaning, rather than picking out the main words and returning results for them. Hummingbird’s focus is on conversational search.
Not provided keyword data in Google Analytics
The encryption of organic keyword data in Google Analytics increased largely around the time the Hummingbird algorithm was announced. Coincidence? I think not. Both updates are telling us to stop focusing on keywords all of the time. I believe this is because of certain techniques that were used in the past, such as overuse of anchor text keyword links and keyword stuffing in content.
Moving forward into 2014 – what’s important?
SEO must be integrated into the organisation and your marketing plan as a whole. Key members of staff within the different departments should have some understanding of what SEO is so that they can take advantage of any current or future opportunities that will improve online visibility. If you are working with an SEO agency make sure you communicate with them frequently. Keep them up-to-date with company/industry news, events, products, other marketing activities and so on. This kind of information will only aid their efforts. Work together as a team!
Those pesky links!
Whilst Google has clamped down on spammy, low quality and manipulate links, the relevant, high quality and non-manipulative links are still a massive part of what helps a website rank. There are various ways to acquire and build a natural-looking link profile depending on what you are trying to achieve – whether that’s through local brand building and getting involved with the community, or outreaching to bloggers and larger content projects.
This has always been a big thing but with the introduction of Hummingbird, it’s become even bigger. If you haven’t got a content strategy, it’s time to get one. You must plan your content – organisation is key. Content needs to be useful so think about what your customers may want to know before they purchase your products. For example:
- How does the product work?
- How long does it last?
- Does it cost anything to run? If so how much?
- Is it eco-friendly?
- What complementary products can be used?
- What are the benefits of buying this product from you?
Think about your FAQs and use Google Instant to predict what people may ask. Take a look at this blog post on eConsultancy for more detail – Content marketing, the Google Hummingbird way.
Don’t forget about video. Gain a competitive edge by using video to share testimonials, tutorials and to showcase your products.
This should become a large part of your digital marketing in 2014. It’s no longer just about Facebook and Twitter – there are other platforms that will suit certain industries more than others, such as LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram. A Google+ page is a must. Recent studies have shown that Google+ is becoming increasingly important when it comes to search engine ranking. Get your Google authorship set up, connect it to your blog and get interacting on Google+. Give it as much time to it that you would to any other platform, if not more.
Is your website mobile ready? Is it responsive? Does it adapt to fit the screens of different devices? If not, this is something you need to change sooner rather than later. Why?
- Google – the search engine aims to present its users with relevant, high quality results. Naturally this includes whether the site performs well on mobile devices as well as desktop.
- Users – who wants to pinch and zoom their way around a website? Think about user experience. Information is not easy to read on sites that aren’t mobile friendly. You may receive lower engagement statistics (higher bounce rates, lower pages / visit), which could have a negative effect on your rankings.
Looking at the way 2013 has gone, the above points are essential in order to gain organic search growth and success in 2014. So what are you planning for the year ahead? Do you agree with the discussed points? If you have any comments, please leave them below.
Merry Christmas from the BritWeb team!