Blogging has always been one of those industries that has frequent changes, but the past few years have really been quite volatile. This is especially evident in the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The Panda and Penguin updates shook up the industry, and the impact of the new Hummingbird change is still being analyzed by industry experts. Looking forward, it seems clear that there will be more changes coming, primarily due to the fact that people are searching differently today than they ever have in the past.
With more and more people doing a majority of their searches from mobile devices, and an increasing number of them using their voice to search rather than typing, it is clear that Google and the other search engines will need to continue to adjust to maintain the quality of their results. While change can be scary, it isn’t always a bad thing. Over the past few years, the search engines have really made it clear that when it comes to SEO, they are looking for just one thing. A quality customer experience. Of course, there are many things that can impact this experience, and it is the job of Internet marketers and SEO experts to know what these things are.
The Future of Onsite SEO
For as long as SEO has been around, it has been broken into two main categories. Onsite and Offsite. It seems extremely unlikely that this will change any time soon, so all SEO experts will still want to make sure they are giving the necessary attention to both. The requirements for onsite SEO don’t change nearly as often, but it is still important to look at the things that are likely to be most impactful going forward:
- Quality Content – As the saying goes, “Content is King.” Sites that have poorly written or spun content will continue to lose ranking over time, and will constantly live in fear of the next Google update. If a site has high quality content that provides value to the visitor, their rankings will only benefit from changes at Google or the other search engines.
- Proper Coding – Having your CSS and HTML coding properly formatted and certified has gotten to the point where it is quite important. This isn’t too hard, and can be done through WordPress plugins or other tools, but it is essential that it is not overlooked.
- Loading Time – Google has come out and said that sites that take a long time to load may get punished in their rankings. Even more importantly, however, is the fact that studies have shown sites which take more than 3-4 seconds to fully load begin to have visitors abandon the page. There are many different strategies which can be used to speed up a site, so make sure to keep this important point in mind.
- Tags – Since the beginning of SEO it has been important to have the right html tags (H1, Meta, ect). The importance has gone down dramatically over the years, but it still shouldn’t be ignored. Stuffing keywords into these tags in an unnatural way is frowned upon, and can actually cause you to lose rankings. Filling out the tags, however, is still something that should be done.
- Mobile Version – While it is not 100% clear whether or not having a mobile version of a site will impact SEO directly at this point, it is still important as part of providing a good user experience. Given the path Google has been on, a mobile version will almost certainly have an impact on SEO in the future, if it doesn’t already.
The Future of Offsite SEO
Offsite SEO has always been where the vast majority of work is done, and that is not likely to change. The specific strategies, on the other hand, can and do change frequently. Gone are the days where using automated link spamming tools will build the rank of a site. Today, and going forward, all offsite SEO will need to be well thought out and properly implemented. The future of offsite SEO will require webmasters or SEO experts to work much smarter, not harder. The following items should be at the top of the list for anyone working on the offsite SEO strategies of their websites for 2014 and beyond.
- Related Links – It has been confirmed that getting links from sites that are in a similar niche is extremely powerful. One link from a similar site can dramatically boost where the page shows up in the SERPs. Figuring out how to get these valuable back links will be one of the biggest challenges to those working on SEO.
- Guest Posting – Strategic guest posting is quickly becoming one of the most powerful ways to not only get high quality back links, but also get direct, targeted traffic. Finding blogs in a related niche, and reaching out to them for guest posting opportunities is an excellent strategy.
- Article Syndication – Once an article has been published and indexed on a page, it can then be syndicated out to other people’s sites in related niches, with a back link to the original page. This is very similar to guest posting, but often requires less work for a website owner.
- Social Media – Another essential component of any modern SEO strategy must be social media. All sites should have a related page on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Most sites should also have an account with Pinterest and other photo sharing sites. Building up a following on social media sites is almost as important as improving where the site comes up in the SERPs. A good social media presence will also help improve the search rankings, so this is extremely important.
- Video – Creating videos is very important for SEO today. Even taking a written article and turning it into a video slide show can provide a good boost to SEO as well as bring in some good traffic from YouTube and other video sharing sites.
Put the Visitor First
One of the best things about the changes Google and the other search engines have put in place over the past few years is that website owners really don’t have to think of ways to ‘trick’ the search engines. Whenever trying to figure out a good SEO strategy, one only needs to think about what will provide the visitor to the site with the best possible experience. It is still a challenge to keep up on all the new and innovative SEO strategies that are constantly popping up, but by keeping the customer’s experience in mind, the decisions on what steps to take will be much easier to make.