2013 was a crazy year of advancement and change in the digital world propelling SEO and online marketing to new frontiers and affecting your overall web presence. Here is a look at few of the major trends and changes that evolved in 2013 with a look forward on how to adapt your online marketing strategy in 2014.
There were a few major Google updates, known by cute animal names such as Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird that have paved the way for new strategies and a new approach to web marketing. Panda and Penguin, simply, are updates to crack down on the bad SEO tactics (link farms, bad user interface) to eliminate any ability to manipulate your way to top rankings through anything short of a strong internet presence, which includes a great website that provides quality content, strong social media and overall web presence. Hummingbird allows the algorithm to better understand entire phrase queries, compared to one or two keywords, and more about search and language intent. I relate it to my son growing up, at first he knew and could understand one or two word in a sentence, but as he grew longer phrases were understood followed by conversations. Google found this needed with the rise in use of mobile devices and voice search, SIRI, etc. where users are not asking full questions and not just searching for a single term or two. Because of this in 2014 and moving forward SEO should focus on:
strengthening your overall web presence,
high quality and natural links,
fresh, relevant content,
well designed, functional websites,
active social media and review pages.
Mobile website optimization has continued to create quite an impact on search, particularly local search. For example 30% of optometrist searches are coming from mobile devices (according to a recent study). Google recognizes this and has begun to penalize websites that are not optimized for mobile search. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you are turning away a significant population of potential customers and risking a penalty from Google that will prevent users from finding your website. If your website isn’t mobile yet this should be one of your top priorities for 2014.
Local Search Visibility
According to the Google Places Stats and Facts page, 20% of searches on Google are location-based. A recent study has shown that 56% of mobile phone users conduct local searches. Online local search has replaced old fashioned methods of users seeking goods and services. Also, many users are consulting review sites such as Yelp or Google Local to get feedback about a business they are interested in.
These facts make optimizing your business listing on Google and Bing essential for local search success in 2014. If not done already claim and optimize your profile, work on standing out from the competition by improving it by adding new images, coupons, reviews, or relevant updates. Along with Google and Bing, this year it’s a good idea to work on submitting your business profile to more of the top business profile sites such as Yelp, Manta, and Yellow Pages to create more local listings which will equal more visibility on search engines.
Social media has continued to be an integral force in online marketing both in terms of creating relationships with consumers and potential SEO strength. Having an active and engaging presence on Facebook and other social media outlets is an important part of your overall online presence in building relationships, creating brand loyalty and more and more overall ranking. Social signals are now being treated in much the same way as back links and are a portion of how rank is now being calculated and will continue to grow in importance.