92% of people now don’t make it past the first page of their Google search, so having a good SEO strategy for your business is more essential than ever. And with Google constantly making updates (Panda, Penguin) and even completely changing their algorithm (Hummingbird), it can be hard to stay on top of best practice. The fact that the benefits of SEO can also take a while to drive value to your business can be frustrating too.
Unfortunately there is no ‘one size fits all’ SEO strategy, but I’ve compiled five of the most important factors that your SEO should incorporate in 2014.
“3 in 5 searches now take place on a mobile.” (SEO Traffic Lab)
Everyone’s been talking about the importance of a mobile strategy for years now, but being mobile is now essential. Brands and businesses that prioritise mobile SEO are already winning as research conducted with Nielsen shows that almost half of mobile consumers start their purchase journey with paid and organic search results. The Mobile Playbook is a great resource to get you started on your mobile strategy.
2. Site speed
“A one second delay on page response time can result in a 7% reduction in conversions.” (SEO Traffic Lab)
In our 4G world, attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. (Well done if you’ve made it this far through the article!) The fact is, if websites don’t load quickly enough, consumers get lost on the path to purchase or even begin to distrust a brand. GTMetrix is a great tool to audit your site speed and shows you (quickly) how to make it faster. A few easy optimisation tips include: compressing your images, implementing caching and considering a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
3. Brilliant, shareable content
“73% of people prefer to get information about an organisation through a series of articles rather than in a traditional advertisement.” (Hubspot)
Consumers don’t trust shiny adverts anymore; they look to editorial content or recommendations and opinions from their peers. A Nielsen survey revealed that people put more of their faith in a branded website, a brand sponsorship ad, or even a product placement in a TV series than in a banner advert on a website or on mobile. And with every new update Google rolls out, site content becomes increasingly more important for websites to rank well in search. And the content on your site needs to be high quality and valuable for your target audience – not just stuffed with keywords and generic pictures from iStock. Think videos, infographics and useful articles that your audience would actually want to read. Search Engine Land have some helpful tips about adding SEO value through site content. Or you can read my blog post entitled How to Produce Content: 8 Top Tips.
4. Social network interactions (yes I’m going to talk about Google+ here)
“Content that has been extensively tweeted about can cut indexation time by 50%, while reducing the time it takes Googlebot to find your content from 2 hours to 2 seconds.” (Whitefire)
Social media is critical to your SEO. In fact, social channels such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest have fundamentally changed the way we search for information. For example, if I’m researching a hotel for my holiday, checking the pictures people have pinned on Pinterest or reading reviews on TripAdvisor are just as important (perhaps even more so) than scrutinising the website and the hotel’s photo gallery.
Content shared on social media is also now being taken into account by search engines. To Google, likes, shares and retweets are a signifier of new and interesting information, which helps the content get ranked accordingly. In short, when there’s a buzz about your brand and your brand’s content on social media, it can increase your domain authority and the number of inbound links to your website.
The launch of Google+ was also a signifier of Google placing importance on social content. Google allows online authors toassociate their writing with their Google+ profile to help them attribute the content to a credible source/real person. By including the rel=”author” tag on your website, linking the websites you write for in the bio of your Google+ profile, and including a link to your Google+ profile in the articles you write, your handiwork will appear in the SERPs (that’s Search Engine Results Pages).
5. Know your audience
Understanding your audience is an essential success factor in all search marketing. This helps you decide which channels to focus your efforts on and which types of content to produce for them. You should then rigorously test and adapt your messaging and content so that it is truly relevant and engaging for your customers, particularly focusing on where they are in the world and where they are in the buying/research cycle. SEO without a solid understanding of who your brand is targeting is a waste of time, and resources.
Do you have any other tips and suggestions for SEO in 2014? We’d love to hear from you in the comments box below.