HO HO HO! Christmas is 2 weeks away, which means 2014 will sneak up on you in no time as well. It’s already feeling like the festive season out here – what with decorations going up, Jingle-Bells everywhere, and every trader giving special discounts and extras.
But where does that leave you? What do you have to look forward to other than crazy discounts and New Year’s resolutions?
What does the future of SEO and content marketing look like? Can you start celebrating or do you need to brace yourself for some difficult times?
In short, what does the world of SEO and content marketing hold in store for 2014?
It all started with Google Algorithm updates. I will explain.
Google’s latest algorithm update, Hummingbird, has changed how the search engine indexes web sites. A few years ago, SEO was all about keywords and inbound links, but all that has changed, thanks to Hummingbird. (And Penguin and Panda). And the rise of social media portals such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
Don’t get it twisted, keywords and inbound links still count, but the SEO game has seen the entrance of new ranking factors in recent times. In other words, this is how you can expect SEO and content marketing to changed in 2014.
Mobile SEO is the Future
If your site is not optimized for mobile devices, you could be missing out on about 61% of mobile traffic according to Google.
More people use smartphones everyday and this trend is expected to grow in the coming years, so it’s in your best interests to build a responsive website that loads on mobile devices.
“Smartphone users are a significant and fast-growing segment of internet users, and at Google, we want them to experience the full richness of the web.” Yoshikiyo Kato, software engineer at Google.
Only mobile optimized sites will receive high-priority ranking. Websites that are not optimized for mobile devices will be de-ranked in the near future.
- Learn to use responsive design.
- Build a separate mobile site for your existing website. Additionally, ensure your web designer sets it up properly because Google is not a fan of irregularly placed redirects. What I mean is, instead of just redirecting your visitors to the homepage of your mobile site, take them straight to the information (or resource) they are looking for. Google will reward this kind of structuring but you will be penalized if you redirect a searcher to a homepage. Are you following?
Social Media is The New SEO Currency
Social media is no longer just “social media”. Hold up, here comes the explanation.
In the days of yore, if you desired to build authority around your content, all you had to do was get inbound links from authoritative websites such as CNN.com, government websites or any other authoritative site in your field.
While this is still practice as far as creating authority goes, a new player entered the game. This player brought the promotional currency of the future. This new player is social media.
This is how Google and other search engines perceive the value of social media as an indicator of authority: If your content is useful, you are decorated with medals of authority.
The inverse is also true. If your content isn’t helpful, you are not an authority. It’s as simple as it sounds.
If that does not cut it for you, here is another way to look at it:
Did you know that 92% of consumers trust referrals from friends and family? That’s right, and social media is playing a big part in it. If more people get to your content, they will get to your products. If that isn’t good enough, Google will label you with a good authoritative profile. More medals!
Search engines are looking at the social connections of the searcher so as to give them more relevant information.
Side note: This is precisely why you need to remain active on not only one but a few more social networks, Google+ included.
Would you like to learn more about social media optimization, read what Google said about social search.
Search Engines Are Growing Smarter by the Day (Semantic Search = More accurate SEO results)
There was a time when search engines were pretty basic. They only understood one thing and one thing only; simple keywords. Well, and links. So they grew smarter and they could comprehend long-tail keywords. The good old days.
But, those days are over. And you know why? Read my lips. Google. Hummingbird. Algorithm. Update. It changed Google’s approach to search, because now the search engine understands intent and context. Keep these two words (intent and context) in mind because you will be hearing them quite a lot. In the future.
Google now understands conversational language. So, if for instance you were to search “Which is the tallest building in building in [your-city]“, Google will parse that quickly and give you all the information you might want to know about whichever building is the tallest in your city. From height, to the architect, year commissioned – name it.
To me, it’s pure genius or as Google said:
“The main focus was that the new algorithm allows Google to more quickly parse full questions (as opposed to parsing searches word-by-word), and to identify and rank answers to those questions from the content they’ve indexed.”
And it should help you align your future SEO and content marketing strategies.
Therefore, in addition to researching the keywords your target customers use to find you, research the questions they would ask with the intention of finding your business. Armed with the questions and keywords, create useful web content that answers the questions. Do this and you will earn a nice spot on Google results.
Search Engines and Contextualization
While understanding the intention of the searcher is great, Google is getting even better at understanding the context in which users search information. This is also the reason why you can find local information easily nowadays.
And we have Google Now to thank for it. Here is quick Wikipedia-ic explanation of Google Now:
“Google Now uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations, and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services. Along with answering user-initiated queries, Google Now passively delivers information to the user that it predicts they will want, based on their search habits.”
Recommendation: How to create content that focuses on optimization and personalization.
Embedded below, is a great (& funny) SlideShare presentation that summarizes these points about the future of SEO and content marketing.
In short, to be prepared for the future:
- Think mobile search and optimize your website for mobile devices
- Converse in your content; think beyond keywords (Create smarter web content)
- Your content must be useful
- Your content must be authoritative
- Think of social media optimization as a huge part of your SEO strategy
- Create a Google+ profile and link it to your website
SEO Kit For 2014: SEO Resources for the Future
To give you more power to conquer the future, I prepared the following list or articles and resources for you:
- Eating My (key)Words: Changing How We Think About SEO
- 2014 SEO Playbook: On-Page Factors
- SEO Changed Forever in 2014. How To Adjust and Thrive in 2014
- 10 Ways Google’s Hummingbird Will Shape Future SEO and Content Marketing
That is the future (of SEO and content marketing) that I saw in the glimmering crystal ball. Haha.
Before we get to the end, I will be glad to hear your input. Did I leave something out, or would you like to add to the discussion? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!