How to Approach SEO in 2014

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Meriel Read has written 18 post in this blog.


SEO in 2014

So it’s a new year, you have a new marketing budget, and you’ve decided to make SEO a priority for your business. Or maybe SEO has always been a priority, but you want to make sure you’re still doing things right after the big algorithm changes of 2013. Here are two things to keep in mind when you evaluate your SEO strategy, or talk to an SEO company about starting one:

 

1. It’s not just about the keyword ranking anymore.

This one can be tough to swallow.  You’ve been taught by your SEO company, every article you’ve read, and even Google itself that all things begin and end with the keyword. While keyword focus is still important, long-tail terms have emerged as more important than ever so if you’re obsessing over achieving a number one ranking for one or two terms, you are missing the boat (and won’t fare all that well with the new semantic search algorithm).

Google has also changed (and is continuing to change) how they present their results.  First page results are now integrated to include social media pages and Google + posts.  Local search is now a combination of Google Places listings, the Knowledge Graph Carousel, and review sites.

One thing we’ve seen with our own locally-based clients in many instances is Google’s “combining” of organic listing and Places listings. Clients who long held top “organic” rankings now rank at the top of the Places map which has replaced the majority of the “organic” space on page 1. The lines are being blurred, and the format is constantly changing, which is why you need to focus on your overall presence versus where you rank for one specific term.

 

2. Build relationships, not links.

You’ve likely heard by now that Google has been dishing out penalties on sites that have engaged in unnatural link building efforts. Maybe your own site was even hit by one. So what now?

 

Now, you have to do real work. There are no shortcuts. Think about why the whole concept of “link building” was developed in the first place: it was meant to make your site look more like an authority in your industry, to make you look more valuable. So get this: instead of trying to look valuable, BE VALUABLE! How? Produce content that is worth sharing. Build real relationships with other organizations, sites, blogs, and your consumers and then give them something of value.

Think about your own personal relationships. You get back what you give away. You gain true, loyal friends who are willing to go to bat for you because you give that same love and loyalty right back to them. Same goes with your business relationships, and that extends to your online relationships.

 

3. SEO is part of an overall online marketing strategy, not the whole strategy.

Search engine optimization is important, but you can’t expect to optimize the content of your website and call it a day in terms of online marketing. SEO should be one part of a strategy to increase your overall online presence. Social media, paid search advertising, online PR, retargeting, email marketing…all of these things can work with SEO to help you grow your business. But SEO is not a stand-alone solution. Furthermore, your search rankings are going to see the effects for your other marketing efforts. Google weights social engagement, traffic response, and overall brand buzz in determining how relevant your content is.

 

So as you put together your marketing strategy, or evaluate your SEO efforts, ask yourself if you’re ready to put in the work that it takes to truly be a valuable asset online. If you’re not, you don’t have an SEO strategy.

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