I recently came upon one of my old articles, "SEO Factors for 2011". I chuckled to myself, not only about how some of the details were actually still relevant but also how many seemed so elementary compared to today's search environment.
Yes, we still need to worry about the possession of "natural-looking" link profiles and how we feed our data to the engines. Those items will always be of consideration.
However, the nostalgic review of my piece had me thinking about what factors we need to consider for successful SEO as online marketers in 2014.
Social, Local & Mobile
We've spent the last handful of years practicing and preaching the importance of being in social, mobile, and local. This mindset was proactive. It allowed us to not solely focus on keywords and search results, but how these elements were going to change the search results our users saw as well as our user's experience.
While we walked down this road, at first it felt as if we were making strides to build silos of these efforts. Soon we saw the convergence of local and social sites molding into Google local results (e.g., Yelp reviews in Google local listings). We've also seen the fast paced growth of mobile and how localization of results has brought a more relevant delivery of results in this arena.
Search in 2013
This year has brought upon a lot for us to understand as marketers. As we close out 2013 algorithmic intelligence is changing faster than ever, at least in my opinion.
The buzz of 2013 and even more so the last few months has been upon the advancements of the Knowledge Graph, Local Carousel, Google Now, Hummingbird, and the great secure search/"(not provided)" change.
The Future of SEO
While the "(not provided)" announcement was a smack in the face to SEO professionals, hopefully it has helped you to realize that our intentions shouldn't be so focused so solely or intently on ranking a keyword in search results.
After watching what Google has been doing over the last year or so, where do keywords tie into the above-mentioned rollout features? They each in some way or another tie into local, mobile, or social.
- Will keywords help you with the Local Carousel? No, proximity and review generation will.
- How will Google Now propel your keyword strategy? It won't, but social efforts will.
- Do you think that Google will give you a Knowledge Graph box for a keyword and link to your site? If so, you're dreaming.
Add in the Hummingbird update, and all of these changes tell us that Google is moving closer to bringing everything together through the tie-ins of localization and semantic improvements for conversational search, which is popular on mobile.
SEO Isn't Dead, It's Converging
SEO at its core will never be dead. All of the on-site needs of yesteryear will remain important in 2014. All of the newer processes of creating informational, enticing, and insightful content for link building and social digestion are still the hot topic now and will be heading into the future.
My point is that we need to watch the converging of our old silos into the new SERP display. SEO has taken on a converging role with other mediums which impact SERP display.
For example, you've created optimized local listings for your local business, but know that the display weighs even more heavily on reviews, have you done your job at local-social integration.
Do you want to display your social activity in SERPs?
2014 Will Still be Big for SEO
Sites must be crawled efficiently, content must be targeted, and yes we still want to rank where desired. The focus as we move down the road is more so on what vehicles we use off-site to help drive traffic to our sites.
How we use the previous discussed pillars alongside their continual convergence by Google will determine how successful your online marketing strategy will become.
- Don't build a local listing. Allow your audience to help you build a local presence.
- Don't build a brand. Build a community, a socialized brand, one that can keep your audience in tune with you in real-time.
- Don't just optimize a site. Optimize an experience for those that are mobile and content hungry.