New Year, New Direction for SEO

With the recent release of a new search algorithm known as Hummingbird, it’s clear that Google is changing the playing field. SEO in 2014 won’t look similar to tactics that you may have used last year, many of which Google now frowns upon.

The Powerful New Google

Google says that the focus of Hummingbird is about making things quick in addition to providing better answers to customers. If you’ve used a search engine more than a time or two, you quickly realize that you have to format your queries in a way that the computer understands. This is why search engine optimization has had such a heavy focus on keywords since its advent. However, Google wants to change that.

The search engine is doing this through semantic, also known as conversational, search, which means that users will be able to ask questions in a human way. Semantic search is especially important as more people are using their smartphones to perform searches, and they’re certainly not doing it by focusing on keywords. The fact that the search engine better understands the way that humans talk is an indication of great improvements to Google’s database and the connections between data that Google indexes from the Internet. It will absolutely make browsing the Web easier, but what about getting exposure for your website?

For starters, it makes little sense to fill your pages with keywords now that search engines understand users to ask questions in a natural way. This is especially true of long-tail keywords. Keyword stuffing will no longer get you to the top of the SERPs, and this may be beneficial to mom-and-pop businesses that know next to nothing about SEO.

Remaining Relevant in Google

Google has made it clear that it wants searchers to stay on the search engine. Just take a look at local searches, which now bring up the Knowledge Graph above organic search results. This isn’t necessarily bad if your business has a physical location because Google will provide searchers with information about your location, hours of operation, star rating and provide pictures as long as they’re available. However, this might be worrisome for eCommerce websites. What can you do to make sure you have the exposure you need in 2014?

The key is to create quality content, which has already been a part of SEO strategy for most of 2013. However, Google’s move to semantic search has a renewed focus on entity search. If your website answer questions about the "Who?" or "What?," you’re more likely to get exposure on Google because the search engine curates that information. The word from Google is that your website should answer questions that searchers have. Using structured markup from Schema.org will also help your website as Google adopts more of the code. Right now, Google can read Schema.org markup about people, places and events, but the search engine will add more support for Schema markup in the future.

Directories such as Yelp have also seen a boost in the days since the release of Hummingbird. Industry-specific directories also have a prominent place in the search results because they provide easy answers about entities (businesses and professionals, especially). Adding your site or getting a listing in those directories will be beneficial in 2014.

Social is Key

Social media remains as important as ever. Not only do search engines take into consideration the amount of times that your content or link has been shared on Facebook and Twitter, but Google has its own social network to promote. When people perform a search query relevant to your content, your link may pop up when someone in their Google+ network has shared it. Of course, when you create quality content, readers will want to share it.

Google also introduced the authorship program in 2013. When you set up a connection between your Google+ profile and content that you create, your profile picture will show up next to your links on the SERPs. This provides visibility, but Google is going to cut down the amount of authors who appear in the first few results. The search engine’s plan is to implement a system that ranks authors. If you contribute quality content to the Internet, your results will appear higher in the ranks. If Google thinks that you’re just adding noise to the Internet, you may see yourself penalized. As authorrank becomes more important, PageRank becomes increasingly less significant.

2014 is the year in which you should think about the user to better your bottom line.

This post was written by Sarah, who is looking to take her Brisbane business to new heights in 2014 with the assistance of digital marketing. If you’re looking for an SEO company in Brisbane, Orange Digita l can assist you in getting the rankings you deserve.

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