Changes in SEO: What You Need to Know in 2014

by 36 01/06/2014

The way we approach search engine optimization was altered forever in 2013. Reflecting back on all the changes in SEO, the question must be asked: “What will happen in 2014?”

Based on analysis from experts, gradual updates from 2013, and what employees at Google have had to say, we can make a decent projection about what websites should do in 2014 to have the most effective strategy.

First, let’s review the changes in 2013. Then we’ll talk about what you need to do to stay competitive in 2014.

The 2013 Updates

So what exactly changed in 2013? Most of what occurred came as a result of Google algorithm updates.

Panda was first introduced in 2011 to reduce the amount of content farming that was going on within websites. In 2013, Google updated Panda on multiple occasions, although this was not anything that webmasters weren’t already used to.

Penguin 2.0 (May 2013) and 2.1 (October 2013) brought more to the algorithm to fight against spam links and dish out more penalties for sites that broke the rules.

However the biggest and most significant update Google has tackled in years wasn’t an update at all — it was a massive algorithm overhaul in August 2013.

hummingbirdHummingbird completely changed the way sites would look at their content, keywords, and SEO strategies. It gave a heavier focus on semantic search and placed greater emphasis on the power of the Google Knowledge Graph.

Preparations for 2014

Mobile Design

Microsoft reported that at some point in 2014 the number of mobile web users will surpass the number of desktop users. This means that it is mandatory that your site has a mobile presence.

In creating a page that is optimized for mobile users you have a few options. One is choosing a mobile web design which will only apply a few selected aspects of your original site. A mobile design typically allows for faster download speeds and is useful for highlighting less but more valuable information.

Mobile and Responsive

The downside of mobile web design is that there can occasionally be an issue with split-page ranks when a mobile web site is not coded correctly.

To bypass those concerns, a responsive design might be a better option. It is simply a shrunken-down version of your site. This allows you to keep most of your original information, although it can weigh down the load time.

Additionally, you can opt to create a mobile application for your site, although this is usually an option best reserved for larger businesses who are looking for very specific consumer interaction. Regardless of what type of site you have, it is mandatory that you ensure it is prepared for mobile users.

Content Focus

Google made it clear in 2013 that, if sites want to improve their site rankings, they need to make sure they’re content driven. SEO firms like Clickcom are increasingly placing more and more emphasis on quality-driven content for their clients because content is the key to informing search engines about user engagement and intent. By understanding more about user intent, Google can make it easier and faster for searchers to find answers to all of their questions.

To provide faster answers, the Google Knowledge Graph has been released as part of the search algorithm. Instead of having to rifle through pages of search results to find out how long the Nile River is, users can see the answer directly on the results page.

Nile River

However if there is a search for something like, “How can I get a better tax return in 2014?” Google obviously cannot provide a clear-cut answer. If a site wants to rank well for this search, it needs to create unique, valuable content that is competitive with other options.

There has been some amount of uproar over the state of keywords within SEO. Google analytics no longer directly provides keywords for webmasters. Instead, you must decide on your own (based off your data) what keywords are going to yield the most fruitful results.

It’s no secret that if you’re interested at all in keywords, long-tail ones are the name of the game. However, if 2013 has proven anything, it has shown that Google could change anything about search at any given time. A focus on keywords will not be nearly as important as a high, intense focus on quality content.

Creating Authority

If you create valuable content for your page, it doesn’t do you much good unless your site can be trusted by Google.

This is where the importance of link building comes in. It has already been established that you want to avoid hosting spammy links on your site. Additionally, you want to keep your own site from being referenced to on spammy sites. But Google has taken authority one step further.

Google has recently pointed out the value of Google Authorship. By linking an author with a Google Plus page, it shows that the author has distinction and will help a page get a better ranking.

As such, it is key for sites (particularly any form of blog) to make sure they host only reliable authors and their work. Additionally, guest writers should link their high-quality work to their Google Plus profile to show that they are also reliable authors.

SEO is a constantly changing game

The rules, guidelines, and even major players in SEO seem to shift and adjust on a regular basis. While it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen next, it is possible to make assumptions and form strategies from there.

To have effective SEO in 2014, make sure your site is optimized for mobile users, provides quality and informative content, and has a high level of authority.

Continue to stay up to date and follow guidelines that Google lays out as you work to improve your site’s traffic and rankings.

Thoughts? Additions? Share your ideas in the comments below.

See other Crazy Egg articles by Drew Kobb

About 

Drew Kobb, in addition to studying civil law, loves blogging about his experiences and learning all about the online industry. He has written extensively about online marketing, ecommerce, and business.

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36 COMMENTS

Amal Rafeeq

Hey Drew,
I was about to start doing some search engine optimizations to my websites and have already set up some milestones. I really needed this post.
Thanks a lot for sharing it. You know what you’re talking about.

Cheers!

January 6, 2014 Reply

Justin

Good advice Drew. Still amazed at how many websites aren’t mobile friendly yet. Will be interesting to see what Google updates come out this year that impact the industry even further.

January 6, 2014 Reply

Tamar

Thank you for all your advice.
I definitely keep myself uptodate on all Google updates and follow Google guidelines.

January 8, 2014 Reply

Kendell Linh

Thank you very much for posting this. I run several blog sites and your post just gave me a heads up. Basically – get straight to the point with no trickery and messin around with your potential audience and Google will play nicely. :) Thanks!!

January 9, 2014 Reply

hopintop

Brand Brand Brand in 2014. Brand yourself, brand your social pictures, brand your website, brand your links… everything. The more you brand the more successful your business venture will be.

January 10, 2014 Reply

SEO Expert Atlanta

Great Article! Thanks! What about video? Doesn’t it continue to boost SEO in 2014?

January 11, 2014 Reply

Stuart Walker

Great article Drew.

Mobile design – check!
Good content – check! (so my readers and other bloggers tell me anyway!)
Authority – not yet but working on it.

January 12, 2014 Reply

Jack Van Jaarsveld

Content is once again more valued then ever

January 17, 2014 Reply

rarotech

Very good description you have given, I would like to say few more things need to add like as effective landing pages, more social sharing, seo friendly url’s. These are also important for 2014 according to me. And finally like before and now and forever Content will remain valuable for any website.

January 20, 2014 Reply

JTech Communications

I really liked your point about content focus, it is becoming harder and harder to game the system and rank for indivicual keywords, as Google tries more and more to find the meaning of the page. One way that we do this is by creating more landing pages that are each intended to rank for one topic. We can then target that page to the individuals who find us using that phrase, which allows us to make sure that our content is actually what they are looking for. That also frees us up to have more general content that is applicable to everyone on our home page, becuase users coming into our site have already seen the specialized information they need.

January 21, 2014 Reply

Jessica Williams

You are exactly correct that the SEO is changing. And thanks for this advice for the new preparations in 2014. I am looking for new suggestions for SEO in 2014. This is really helpful for me.

January 25, 2014 Reply

    Bhavesh

    You are right Drew, SEO is changing every day and recently there are also take place major changes in SEO. We have to follow the current strategy and effective work. Thanks for all these tips and points.

    February 1, 2014 Reply

Mian

Thanks for the info,loved the way you explained the need of responsive designs. One question I have shifted to responsive design but my traffic has dropped a lot by peofession I am a designer and have no clue what went wrong? Any help would be appreciated..

January 25, 2014 Reply

    Drew Kobb

    Thanks for reading, Mian! There are many factors and variables that can affect your traffic. It could be the responsive design, or another issue entirely. Copyblogger published an interesting article on this issue here: http://www.copyblogger.com/mobile-responsive-seo/ if you want to check it out. I would also recommend looking at your other SEO components to see what changes (if any) may be affecting your traffic.

    Hope that gives you some direction. Good luck!

    January 29, 2014 Reply

Spook SEO

Nice sharing Drew, I really like the way you write this and these things are more common in SEO and we all know what we should need to do in 2014 and how we can get the best results for our efforts we are placed in our techniques. Having good content is a must and mobile optimization is the edge to get more traffic.

February 2, 2014 Reply

hasan

It is realy acurret things. Thanks for share this topic. It is very important for me. Because i have a blog site.

February 11, 2014 Reply

Rommel Fernandes

Thank you for telling about the importance of mobile design.

February 12, 2014 Reply

Anh Wu

I used WordPress platform and it gave my websites mobile versions that works with most of screens. The only thing is the database is big so it takes a bit longer to load but that’s ok because this is the cheapest option. Have anyone got any recommendation of other CMS?

February 15, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    Hi Anh. My fave is WordPress.org. You really can’t do better than that.

    February 15, 2014 Reply

    Jeremy Smith

    Anh, I agree with Kathryn 100 percent. WordPress is definitely the way to go. Also, there are some great articles on how to speed up your wordpress site out there that will definitely help you. Good luck.

    February 17, 2014 Reply

Shannon Cole

My Pet Sitting website took a hard hit this past December with the new Google “rules” . I dropped from a page rank of 3 down to a 2. I do ALL the SEO and website work myself. As a small business I can’t afford to hire out. It’s so dang hard to keep up with the rules! Now my business has suffered for 2-3 months without my knowledge. Sure change the rules in the middle of a holiday season! Website owners won’t notice…. Grrrr I blog weekly, I build links, and had one of the best pet sitter websites out there. Most rank at a 0-1, I had a 3! That’s huge in my industry for a individual pet sitting service! Now I have to pay the price and suffer to rebuild my rank.

February 19, 2014 Reply

    Kathryn Aragon

    I’m sorry to hear that, Shannon. I’m going to give you a counter-intuitive bit of advice that has worked well for me: Spend less energy on traditional SEO. Do fill out the meta-data on all your pages, using good keywords that will get you found. But don’t over-optimize. Then get a good respondsive design plugin for your website if you don’t have one yet (I recommend WPTouch Pro) and spend some energy improving your site speed. Above all, keep your focus on providing a good user experience for visitors, including the best quality content possible (which you want to promote on Google+). Good luck!

    February 19, 2014 Reply

    Drew Kobb

    Hi Shannon. So sorry to hear about your site’s rank. I completely agree with Kathryn’s advice though. Often times it is expensive to hire those professional companies to do your SEO for you. So site owners take it upon themselves to do the work. I definitely applaud those that are willing to give it a shot but it can definitely be harder than it seems. Probably the number one mistake is what Kathryn referred to, over-optimizing. Unfortunately Google does choose some inopportune moments to really crack the whip and penalize sites. But it looks like they are in the middle of yet another update right now: read here.
    I’ve found that the best way to really stay on top of all the potential changes is to really be up to date with what people are saying on the Twitter sphere where you can get in on the conversation and hear a lot of voices. I hope this helps somewhat! Best of luck to you!

    February 20, 2014 Reply

ravijeet kale

Thanks for the informative post !! Its useful… as per the new update Content marketing is the emperor in 2014 seo

February 19, 2014 Reply

Iftekhar Ahmed

WordPress did help, but the problem goes with your optimisation way.

February 19, 2014 Reply

SEO Swansea

I’ve recently been having great results with onsite content optimisation, sometimes even getting within the top10 SERPS without a single inbound link, so I really do agree with the focus on content as I’m finding it’s now even more critical in getting good results.

March 3, 2014 Reply

Galore Tech

I have seen many ups and down in SEO industry since 2004. I achieved top 5 ranking in just free directory submission, blog and article submission. But now these activities are considered completely spam. On that days spammers were very success but now not. Only ethical SEO works. Perception is still alive. Social media plays an important role in web promotion. You have so nicely compared SEO changes year by year. Thanks

March 6, 2014 Reply

Christy Kunjumon

2014 and coming years is really going to be changeling for SEO. Creativeness will matter a lot when it comes to internet marketing. Recently I interviewed one of well known SEO expert Tad Chef @ http://www.techwyse.com/blog/interviews/interview-with-tad-chef/ and it was very interesting to see his thoughts in seo in future. SEO is getting more interesting and challenging.

March 14, 2014 Reply

Kaluri Shankar

Hi Drew Kobb…
Really awesome article, In the year 2014 all we need is relevant and fresh content to be good in result page SEO may get more and more intrest in the coming years .

March 25, 2014 Reply

Damien

Good article

April 8, 2014 Reply


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