For some people, SEO implies manipulating websites in an attempt to get a low quality site to rank well with the search engines. If that is the definition being used, than most people will agree that it is dying a slow (and far too prolonged) death, and that is something we can all be thankful for. When SEO is defined correctly as, "the optimization of a website's online presence to help the search engines find and rank a high quality site at or near the top of the SERP's" most people will say that it is alive and well.
There are quite a few trends which have started in 2013, and will almost certainly continue through in 2014, which anyone who is interested in SEO will need to be aware of. These trends are extremely important to track, and they all seem to be pointing in the direction of encouraging website owners to think first of their target audience, and the rankings will soon follow. Here are a few of the trends with SEO to be aware of in 2014:
- Content Marketing - Going forward, any site that wants to get to, and remain, at the top of the SERPs will need to have high quality content that the visitors will benefit from.
- Social Media - More and more people are using social media to find websites to visit. The search engines are well aware of this, and are incorporating many social indicators into the way they rank sites. SEO experts will need to properly implement social media marketing, which will not only drive traffic from the social sites, but also help improve the rankings in the SERPs.
- Providing Value - This is a fairly vague trend, but it is essential none the less. When a site provides true value to visitors, they will come back again and again. In addition, they will spend longer on the site and the overall bounce rate will be reduced. Each of these factors will undoubtedly help with the SERPs of any site in 2014 and beyond.
- Mobile - Search engines know of the fact that a rapidly growing percentage of people are searching from mobile devices. If a site does not have a good mobile interface, it will suffer in the SERPs.
- Back link Quality - While back links have always been important for optimization, their use is quickly changing. In the past, simply getting tens of thousands of links would help drive a site up in the rankings. Today, however, low quality/high quantity links can do much more harm than good. Links from related sites, however, are more powerful than ever, and should be a primary tool for all SEOs in 2014.
Areas where SEO is Dying
While overall, SEO is certainly not going to die in 2014, there are some things that SEO experts have done in the past, which will either be ineffective or even counterproductive going forward. These areas of SEO are going to be dead in 2014 and beyond, and it is important for anyone engaging in SEO activities to avoid them at all costs:
- Link Spamming - Using automated tools to build thousands of back links to a site has been frowned upon for years, but has held on as an SEO technique by some for far too long. In 2014, however, this strategy should finally die off completely. Anyone who still uses this strategy going forward will not just be keeping it alive, they will be killing their own site.
- Link Networks - There are many different back link networks out there that claim to be able to build links to sites automatically, without Google or the other search engines finding out. The fact is, however, that over time, Google keeps finding them and devaluing their links. In the long run, these types of link networks cause a lot more harm than good, which is why they will fall out of favor and finally die in 2014.
- Content Spinning - People have long tried to save time and money by taking existing content, and using software to 'spin' it by changing words around, thus making it unique. While there are some great programs for this out there, none of them are flawless. In addition, the search engines are becoming better and better at detecting this type of thing, which ends up hurting the rankings of the site. Content spinning will (hopefully) die out in 2014.
- Press Release Spam - One of the SEO strategies that was quite hot in 2012-2013 is press release submissions. People were submitting press releases with every blog post they made, or whenever they had a good dinner. It was quite effective, but really got out of hand. Google has largely devalued these types of links, and it will only get worse in 2014. While high quality press releases for truly important events are still important, press release spam is definitely on its deathbed for 2014.
Have more thoughts? Let's discuss your ideas and strategies for SEO in the comments below.