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What 2014 will bring us in the SEO world

Posted on January 01, 2014

So ladies and gentlemen, we are officially in twenty fourteen. So far we are just dipping our toes into the new year and are yet to wade into the murky depths that is otherwise known as Google algorithm changes.  What's up for this year?  Well I can only take an educated guess, but here are the top 4 things that I think will play a big part in our SEO lives over the next 12 months:

Link-Building

Your links should be a natural by-product of genuine activity.  Focus on building valuable traffic first, or brand exposure/social interaction etc, but don't run a link-building strategy where the whole purpose is to acquire as many links as possible - It won't work.

Over this year, there are two golden truths:

  1. Google are still going to 'manually' identify unnatural links and dole out their dues
  2. Google are going to heavily penalise any site operating any form of manipulation

Just remember: the higher to go, the harder you fall.  If you think about how to fly further under the radar, how to implement anchor text formulas, varied landing pages, or spend time brand link-building, you're going to lose the game.   Remember that real people are using your site, and real people at Google (more on this later) will review your site, Google isn't a big machine where nobody sees what goes in or out.  Google are active on forums looking for new tactics and tricks and have teams of people like you and me looking to see what people are trying to do next to raise their rankings artificially.

Engagement & Brand Building

Searcher engagement is going to become increasingly important as a measure of validity, reputation and reliability of the information on your website.  Google use the 'return to search' algorithm to monitor the time it takes for a user to click on your listing and then click back to Google, either to refine the search or choose a different search result.  The quicker that searchers clicking on your result click back to Google for a different result or a search refinement, this may suggest you aren't 'the right result' and your rankings will drop.

Guest Blogging

Everyone jumped on this bandwagon and it's now been exhausted - Google are going to be all over this in 2014, penalising blogs with dofollow links on posts marked as 'guest post' and sites that have lots of links coming from guest posts.  Unless you are an expert in a particular field with links back to your Google+ profile and you only post on high quality blogs that bring value (an expert knows what will bring them value or is a shot in the dark), I'd suggest staying away from guest posting in 2014.

The Disavow Tool

This tool will continue to be heavily used because it just works. Moral of the story: continue to request poor links to be removed and where that doesn't work, disavow your bad links - It keeps things squeaky clean.

As the year goes on I will continue to post on ways you can capitalise on your SEO efforts, and let's see how the year plays out!  Before that though, I had some interesting thoughts.  Well they were interesting to me at least. Anyway over the holiday period while trying to relax between a mother and sister bickering, tv blaring and alcohol being is too-short supply, I sat and thought about all things Google, and realises, that Google is not law.  Google is not God and being penalised isn't the equivalent of a sin (aka you aren't going to hell).  Google is not a universal law like gravity.  Yes Google is a massive company, and yes they are not going anywhere any time soon (or ever hopefully!)... But there are legions of people who look up at Google as if it is an authority the likes of government or the police, when really, it is a company with a monopoly on the search space. This realisation doesn't really change anything, because there is little (read: nothing) we can do to alter how Google operates, however it was interesting to sit and think how we think "the Internet", or "email" or "Google" are all the same, and they just aren't.  Why bring this up?  Well for me it's just interesting, nothing else.

Essentially there are millions of people who own websites all employing other people to optimise their pages to rank better on a website (google.com) that belongs to a company (Google) that could cease to exist one day.  Google is a website that lists other websites , owned by a company.  The Internet isn't going anywhere, it's an open network that allow communication, and email isn't going anywhere as it's an open standard of protocols that allow communication over a network (like the Internet).  You can't sue the Internet or email, you can't bankrupt them, you can't even really think of them in that context.  On the other hand, you can sue Google and you can bankrupt it (technically).  Working in SEO for so long, I no longer see it as people trying to optimise and stay ahead of the curve with this changing 'organism' that is unknown to the realms of you and me, it is people trying to optimise and stay ahead of the curve with updates by other people that work at Google to make the service they offer their customers better.  Maybe you already had Google in this context in your mind, but if you didn't hopefully it's given you a different perspective.  No reason to have a different perspective other than it's good to think differently once in a while.

About the Author

James Richardson

Sales Director

James Richardson started his online career by running online Sports Fan sites (luckily none are still online today), with the pinnacle of the site being a write up in the Sunday Herald Sun 'Wired' column.

His professional career began at a ASX listed company, Melbourne IT, where he held various senior roles across the Sales and Marketing teams, before deciding to venture out on his own.

Running several successful online websites and businesses himself, he is well placed at understanding your business needs.

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