Search Engine Optimisation; Things You Need To Know For 2014

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Over the last 15 years or so, the basic principles of SEO have not changed much. The key to good basic SEO practices is to write good, natural content in order to generate quality back links to your website and to update your website regularly through using a blog etc.

However, 2013 has witnessed changes that have hurt many websites, with many updates to keep up with, making 2013 a very difficult year for many website owners who found themselves on the first page for a certain keyword phrase, being dropped completely off the radar. This is not to say that Google were wrong to make certain updates and therefore, making it more difficult for websites to get back to where they belong; or where they thought they belonged.

This article looks at the five SEO “basics” that were absolutely quashed during 2013 and illustrates what you need to look out for in 2014.

Keywords & User Knowledge

Optimising for keywords is a changing concept. There are many users that now skip or miss out a term such as ‘Buy’ before what it is they’re looking to buy, as users of the Internet are becoming more intelligent in the way they search for certain products or services. Therefore, meaning that many websites that optimised for specific buying queries are today losing out in terms of the volume of search queries, meaning less traffic in general to their site.

Users are now also using more specific tools in order to receive the most relevant product or service. For example, a user may look for a specific t-shirt in the shopping section of Google’s search results, rather than browse through the websites. In which case, users are able to compare items by price, relevance and so on. Google trends illustrate the shift in consumer knowledge of how to use the Internet properly for the most relevant results.

Google Places Page

Specifying where your business is located was a much quicker and easier than it is now. Website owners could simply create a listing through creating a page showing a city, with the location name being stated. Many websites by the way still have those types of pages instead of having created a Google places page that has been optimised for the places search results.

Each Google place must be verified in order for Google to identify the business location, which in Google’s eyes illustrates that the business is kosher and in turn ranking them higher than those without.

302 Redirects Are Important

Google recently went on record in regards to 302 redirects, with John Mueller stating: “the 302 is something where we would still pass the PageRank. Technically with the 302, what can happen is that we keep the redirected URL and just basically use the content of the redirected URL.”

By 2013 many sites without or a lack of 302 redirects were starting to be penalised for this very reason and therefore, must not be taken as lightly as some think. A lack of or wrong 302 redirects can cause bad links (affiliate links) leading to a decline in page rank.

404 Error Pages & Broken Links

Not having a 404 error page for links that are not available anymore for users, is now extremely heavily penalised by Google, as they try to ensure that users have a better experience when browsing websites.

The issue with this is that many links that are incoming to a website are unable to input 404 redirects and therefore, what used to be seen as good SEO practise by getting as many links as possible pointing to a site, is now causing many sites to be heavily penalised. On the other hand, it stops those who are generating links and in effect cheating, to be penalised which is fairer for many start-up sites. Some websites need to start again if this is what’s holding them back in regards to ranking higher.

Social Media

Social media is becoming more and more important in the world of SEO and with that Google are making it increasingly difficult for websites to maintain an effective social media campaign. The basics are still the same, but there are more elements now that websites need to adhere to in order to maximize a social media campaigns potential.

The main social media networks need to be updated regularly with people following, liking, mentioning or sharing; all networks need to be used, not just one or two. There are those that carry more weight in terms of importance, however, neglecting one for another is not the way forward.

Final Point

There are other aspects to look out for such as, web design; websites need to be built properly otherwise the technology aspect may reduce the overall ranking. However, make sure you’re doing the above points correctly before moving onto others.

Featured images:
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  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned
  •  License: Image author owned

Giles, the author of this article has worked in search engine marketing for many years and has seen several changes in terms of SEO practice and what the search engines are looking for.

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