Last week, we looked at several of the major updates Google made in 2013 (and there were many others). That post looked at what happened last year. This article is going to examine the SEO trends that we expect to see within the next 12 months. Are you ready? Let’s go!
SEO Trends in 2014
I think this goes without saying. The Panda and Penguin updates changed everything in 2012, and Google has developed them even further in 2013. While some SEO companies might have still seen limited success with tactics such as link building in 2013, I believe that 2014 will be a whole different ballgame.
The problem is not that you have to be a lot better at what they are currently doing; it’s that they have to start doing a lot of completely differently things in order to succeed.
The favoured tactics of most SEO companies in Malaysia and Singapore have traditionally been:
- Execute on-page optimization
- Build some directory links
- Enter client URL into a link network
The complexity then is being able to build a link network that Google cannot detect. However, that becomes difficult to scale as you gain more clients from different industries.
If a SEO company does decides to go down the Grey or Black path, then it probably will have to create its own private link network i.e. one link network for one client.
A few caveats with this approach:
- Even if Google can’t detect you today, a future update might catch you cold
- If that takes too long, a competitor (either the SEO company’s or the client’s), will report you to Google
- Your company and staff will essentially be spending their careers creating spam. Sure, there’s money to be made but I don’t believe that you can’t make money while doing something useful at the same time
Obviously, we don’t recommend this approach.
Bottom line – it’s going to get more difficult and expensive, even if you’re doing Grey or Black Hat SEO.
Solid On-Page Optimization is Table Stakes
On-page optimization has, and will always be, a fundamental part of SEO. In the past, you could sometimes get a new website to rank well just by recommending some basic on-page recommendations (this was especially true for less competitive queries in Malaysia).
Now, the web is maturing and it’s hard to get quick wins just by doing on-page optimization. That being said, if your on-page optimization is not done professionally, then it will be that much tougher to rank your website once you start building links.
Bottom line – get this right first before moving on. Also, don’t be afraid to continue tweaking your website to see how well it goes.
Start Branding Online
What Google cares about is not so much brands, but the trust, authority and reputation of a website. This means that even if you are an established offline brand with ten factories in Sarawak, Google might not know who you are if you have yet to embark on an online marketing strategy.
The reason Google and other search engines are placing more emphasis on brands is that they want to return results from sources that are considered reputable, authoritative and reliable.
In order to do that, you will need to prove to Google that you an expert in your particular field. This can be done in many ways such as guest posting on relevant authoritative blogs, creating relevant and useful content, holding webinars, getting customer reviews on Google+ etc.
In order to competently build brands online, SEOs must be able to work closely with the rest of the client’s marketing team, both online and offline.
Bottom line – expect your SEO company to be more involved in your overall marketing activities in order to effectively drive you traffic.
Content-Driven SEO Strategies are Key
I don’t see how SEO can be done effectively in 2014 without creating quality content. With Panda, in-depth articles, the reduction in Google Authorship rich snippets and the Hummingbird update, Google is showing us just how serious they really are about rewarding quality content.
It’s difficult to get buy-in for content marketing in Malaysia, especially among the family-owned businesses. From our experience, we find that they don’t really like the non-salesy nature of such content. We can understand that, because all this while the only content they have been creating are brochures or direct marketing collateral.
The lead time to actually get results for content marketing is another concern. Unlike the marketing tactics that they are used to (such as event marketing, direct mailing etc), content marketing will take months to show a positive return. It is thus essential that SEOs try to haul in as many quick wins as possible.
However, SMEs should also realize that if they wait for one of the competitors to prove the concept (that content marketing works), it will take quite a while for them to catch up.
It is thus better to be leading the fray, than the one playing catch up.
This is what content marketing is NOT – spinning one badly written article into 1,000 and distributing them among your link network or article directories.
So if any SEO company says ‘Hey, don’t worry about this whole creating content thing. We’ll can do it without any input from you,’ you had better start asking more questions.
It’s unreasonable to expect an expert in every field in has a client in. They will require the domain expertise that your company has in order to create great content.
Bottom line – be prepared to invest in content marketing initiatives if revenue driven from search engine traffic is important for you.
SEO & Social
SEO and social media are twins separated at birth. This DOES NOT mean that social media will be replacing SEO.
It’s not an either-or decision. It’s just that social media will play a larger part in SEO strategies.
While you might have read some studies that seem to suggest that social media signals from networks such as Facebook and Google+ have a high correlation to rankings, it is important to remember that correlation does not mean causation.
For one thing, Google can only crawl public Facebook pages and does not have firehose access to Twitter’s feed. So no, social media will not replace SEO.
It is extremely hard to execute on SEO strategies without social media. But SEO strategies encompasses more than just social media.
Bottom line – if you’re not currently executing on a social media strategy for your SEO, it’s about time you take another look at it. If you’re in an industry that doesn’t lend itself very well to social network marketing, then merely creating and optimizing your profiles might gain you benefits.
Agree or Disagree with These SEO Trends?
Do you agree or disagree with what we think will be the major trends in SEO over the next year? Let us know in the comments below.