The changing landscape of SEO in 2014

Digital Marketing By Rhys Little, 25th February 2014

Now we’ve hit February and the avalanche of “What’s in-store for SEO in 2014?”, “SEO is [dead/alive/in limbo]” and “2014 – SEO will never be the same again!” blogs have come and gone, it’s time to take stock of what we’ve learned. The sheer wealth of experts each proclaiming the future of SEO will be is not just breathtaking; it’s downright confusing, especially for businesses that may not be well-versed in the subject.

There is, however, a common theme that runs through many of these snippets of wisdom. Many previous changes in search – updates like Hummingbird, social integration and SERP revamps – are not solely aimed at businesses looking to improve their brand authority or visibility. Their true aim is to woo the affections of millions upon millions of searchers.

As a result, SEO professionals need to take a two-pronged approach to their work this year. Ask yourself: “What value am I offering to searchers and what technical steps can I take to communicate that value to search engines?”

Mobile

Mobile SEO is a common theme in many ‘SEO 2014’ blogs and, essentially, avoiding the issue is no longer an option. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets in households across the world means avoiding mobile is an immediate fail in the realm of search optimisation.

With that said, mobile SEO actually has a lot in common with traditional SEO. Basics such as embedding videos/images correctly, ensuring redirects work effectively, avoiding 404s and nullifying the presence of click-to-leave ads works well not just on desktop but on mobile, too. However, you will need to consider different tactic for voice searchers (aural searches tend to be longer, detailed and more specific) as well as optimising the site for viewing on a 5 inch screen. You’ll also need to decide whether your optimisation will come in the form of responsive design, dynamic service or separate mobile sites altogether.

Link building and content

Despite link building’s roots in traditional SEO, the technique still has a key role to play in 2014. However it is the quality rather than the quantity of links that matter according to the all-seeing eye that is Google.

Remember when we said SEO is now all about the searcher? 2014 proclaims link building’s days of dropping URLs with optimised anchor text on forums via automated software are dead; long live the days of high-quality guest blogging! By providing the searcher with relevant, engaging content, it is not only the good-quality, authoritative target site that prospers in search engines; it’s the ‘guest’ writer which acquires a good link in a relevant industry.

Essentially: if SEO professionals acquire a good link on a high-quality, authoritative domain, Google will be a happy boy.

It is generally agreed that search isn’t going to change drastically in 2014. However, there will be a stricter focus on providing relevant content and a decent user experience. Consequently search professionals need to think longer and harder about the demands of search users in 2014.