In the ever-changing world of Google and its algorithms, it is crucial to keep your SEO practices up to date if your online business or website wants to survive. SEO techniques can often become outdated, and some activities that would have worked last year may not even make a Googlebot look twice now. This year’s Google’s algorithm change, known as “Hummingbird,” will undoubtedly affect what websites appear at the top of Google’s search results, but businesses that focus on good SEO practices in 2014 should still see an improvement in their search engine result page (SERP). Hummingbird’s emphasis lies more on the curation of quality content, responsive design and automated speech recognition (ASR), and websites need to fall in line with this change if they want to remain on Page 1. We understand that it may be difficult to keep track of all the changes, so we’ve put together some SEO tips that you should bear in mind for 2014.
Focus on content, not keywords
Keywords alone are no longer going to carry your SEO strategy, so spend less time stuffing keywords into content and more time writing content that people will find useful and interesting. Hummingbird focuses on providing users with answers to their search questions, which means the page’s content is looked at as a whole rather than how many times individual keywords appear. That being said, keywords still have a role to play, so you should do your research on what words work best and weave them in appropriately (headers, page title, etc).
So how can you produce quality content and why is it so important? One great tip is to think about a question your customers often ask and write your copy as if you were answering it. Businesses can capitalise on this by offering top tips, lists, advice and how-to guides in their blogs and within their content. Not only will this help with your result ranking, it will also encourage users to share your content and potentially increase the number of inbound links to your site.
Mobile search is also a key change in the Hummingbird algorithm and is one to keep your eyes on. Hummingbird was Google’s response to the increase in mobile Internet use and search results will now take ASR and voice search into consideration. Since mobile and voice based searches are primarily driven through conversational or natural language, the new algorithm has taken on a more intelligent understanding of such searches. Instead of typing in keywords, people’s queries take a more question-orientated format (for example, “where is the nearest Italian restaurant?” or “How do I fix a leaky sink?”), so content written to answer questions will get an improved ranking.
With 50% of people accessing the web via their smartphones, you should be making every effort to accommodate mobile visitors, particularly by developing a responsive website. Not only does Google prefer sites that are responsive, but visitors also have an expectation of mobile-friendly sites and those that provide a poor experience for mobile users are less likely to convert them into customers.
Let social media work for you
Although there were no significant changes in Hummingbird regarding social media, our digital agency still finds that many businesses aren’t using social media enough in their SEO strategies. While it’s debatable if social media has a direct effect on your page ranking, it can definitely help drive more traffic to your site, get people to comment on your blog and generate more links to your content, all of which help your SEO. When Google sees that you’re up to date with your content and social media usage, it’s another brownie point that will get you closer to your desired position on the results page.
We’ve already established that quality text-based content is an important part of your content marketing, but who said you can’t get creative and mix it up a little? Images and videos are an important part of online content because they enable you to connect with your users on another level and explain things quickly and easily. Multimedia is also known to encourage engagement with your readers (particularly pictures and video). If you do use videos and images to illustrate your message, make sure to include text to support it, which will also help with your SEO.
It may be worth noting that you should include detailed descriptions, tags and captions for your images. For videos, think about including a summary or description of what the video may be about, a relevant tag, and possibly a transcript as these will help provide relevant content on the page for Google to crawl.
Set up Google Authorship
Our last SEO tip to kick off the new year is to set up Google Authorship for your blog posts because this shows the world that you are the owner of your blog articles. You may have noticed that small profile photos are sometimes associated to links in your Google search results. This is because the individuals that have written the content have set up Google Authorship profiles and Google recognises them as the writers. This can increase your website traffic by 15 to 50% and it’s fairly simple to set up through your Google+ profile.
If you apply these tips to your SEO activities during 2014, the amount of traffic your website receives should produce better SERP and higher click through rates. As SEO continues to evolve, it is increasingly important to proactively adjust to the changes and keep an ear out on the trends so you can follow suit. If you’ve got more advice to give our readers for their 2014 SEO strategies, please add it to the comments below.
Get in touch with our SEO consultants
If you would like more information, need help, or want to improve your website’s SEO strategy, contact one of our expert SEO consultants today on 0116 254 9888 and to find out how we can help!