With the recent Panda 4.0 Google algorithm update, SEO is beginning to change in 2014. Changing best practices, keywords and relevancy are just some of the issues businesses now face. It is important to keep up with the latest trends in the space so that your business doesn't find itself on the wrong side of a Google manual penalty that keeps you from showing up in Google's organic results. Here are some trends to take note of when building your business SEO profile in 2014:
1) Content is king
The ability to create unique, high-quality content is integral for any business' success online. People on the internet are constantly bombarded with hundreds of messages and organic results to choose from when they search for something, so if your content stands out by offering the reader an optimized title and the ability to understand your product or service in a unique way, you'll do much better at capturing their attention than your competitors. Two great options to provide this high quality content is the use of blog posts or whitepapers - however, thinking in broader terms with visual options like videos and infographics can be extremely effective when done correctly as well.
2) The increasing importance of mobile
The number of people that are using their smartphones and tablets to access the internet is increasing at an extremely fast pace. In today's world of online business, companies that are not optimized for mobile use are putting themselves at a grave disadvantage. A good responsive design can help your business' website keep its look, feel, and integrity across a variety of mobile devices so that anyone viewing your website will get the best experience possible. Search engines like Google are aware of this, and will rank websites with responsive or mobile optimized versions higher than those that don't in organic results.
3) Conversational search
With the Hummingbird change to the Google search algorithm better handling conversational and long-tail search queries, businesses that are not appropriately optimized will soon find themselves having a harder time ranking well and generating non-branded organic traffic. Optimizing your website for longer tail keywords and phrases will provide more value than ever before and will help to make your website's keyword rankings more diverse.
4) Links in press releases are great for brand recognition, but not SEO
Toward the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, Google officially announced that having links that passed equity ("dofollow") in a press release could be the basis of a manual penalty to a website. This means that businesses that still use or have press releases that link to their business could find their rankings negatively affected. Make sure that if your business has used press releases in the past that you go back and mark those links as "nofollow." They will still provide some SEO value this way without endangering your entire website's organic rankings.
5) Relevancy of content to website theme
More than ever, the content on your website should be relevant to keywords that relate to your website. This basically means that if you haven't already, make sure that each of your pages makes sense in the grand scheme of your website. So if your business is selling say, cakes, make sure that the content on your website is relevant to cakes and that the keywords you use make sense in that context. This is something that your business ideally should have been doing in an SEO strategy before, but with the new Panda 4.0 update, having content that doesn't make sense with the rest of your website can now actually hurt you.
SEO is ever changing and 2014 isn't an exception. Making sure that your website stays within search engine guidelines by taking these trends into account is extremely important to your organic results. If your business acts quickly, you can take advantage of competitors who have not been following SEO best practices and have been penalized in the wake of Panda 4.0 to help get the most out of these strategies and increase your business' organic rankings.