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SEO 2014 – What Site Owners Really Need To Understand

Andy Williams

by Andy Williams on 31st December 2013

Happy New YearSo here we are – It’s New Year’s Eve.

Another year gone and it has been a hectic one. Google provided us enough updates to surely give us a few years off now? Except, you can be sure there will be more of the same in 2014.

Yep 2014. It seems like only a few months ago I was doing the “SEO Techniques for 2013” video. Yet today I’m not going to write an “SEO for 2014” post. Emma has already provided you all with a great one (The SEO Changes You Need To Consider For 2014) and so I’m going to come at this from a slightly different angle.

This isn’t so much about “what to expect” or “what tactics should you be using”, this is more for site owners and a post about what THEY should understand about SEO in 2014.

2013 was in some respects a relentless year for most SEO’s. Google updates were never ending and dealing with the changes has, to a point, made it harder to do actual SEO work. A huge amount of time has been spent by agencies around the world dealing with the updates, working on sites that have come to them after being hit and mending the damage caused by fly by night individuals.

The knock on affect has meant that the way SEO is carried out has changed.

In truth Google have always asked for the same type of things; build your brand, don’t game the system, don’t buy links, don’t create links that aren’t relevant etc. So those who have over indulged in breaking the guidelines are now paying the price.

The problem is the change in environment has remained pretty much unseen by anyone who isn’t in the industry. Unseen to the point where site owners are still paying back street “experts” to buy links. Now of course this isn’t exactly their fault, if you are not in the industry how would you know right?

But this has to change.

You see, many years ago SEO was easy: Fill a page with keywords and make sure the links you create to that page were keyword rich. Bang done.

Then along came gradual updates that frowned upon certain practices. This didn’t change much, if anything, Google didn’t have the algorithm to back up its best practices. Links were still the main currency that counted and whilst some tried white hat practices in an attempt to look for longer term security instead of quick wins others continued to buy links at an even larger scale. It was an utter free for all.

It’s only recently that Google has seriously started to stamp its true authority. Now we have a totally different landscape.

Penguin and Panda have changed so much. Google now look for brands to build, well their brand. Google want engagement, they want social interaction and shares. They want you to “work” for your links and to create informative content.

No more lazy article marketing, no more directory links, no more buying links, no more forum and blog commenting for easy link creation – you need to work for your links.

And rightly so.

The problem is – no one outside the industry is really aware that things have changed so much. The result – people still think it’s as easy as it used to be. So business owners still buy shady SEO services believing that it is a quick turnaround using old fashioned tactics.

As I mentioned at the start of the post, this is largely aimed at site owners and giving them some pointers for what 2014 will be like for SEO.

If you believe that SEO is a quick win then you need to read on

Let’s start with some hard facts about SEO that all online businesses need to understand:

  • SEO is constantly changing
  • Google are constantly changing
  • What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow
  • There are no overnight results
  • Your competition are also doing SEO
  • You WILL have to do your bit
  • If you have duplicate content you WILL have to deal with it
  • If you have a toxic link profile you WILL have to deal with it
  • If you have a lack of content on your site you WILL have to deal with it

SEO is a long game. If you believe you are going to see ground breaking results in a matter of months you need to re-read the list above. Remember what I said, Google wants sites to work for their links and their rankings. If you think all you need to do is submit to 100 directories a month then you will be seeing your site dropping not improving.

But let’s look back at the list:

SEO is constantly changing: It certainly is and that isn’t going to change. What worked once upon a time may not now.

Google is constantly changing: And that isn’t ever going to change. Google can (and do at the drop of a hat) turn off signals. So what worked once upon a time may not now.

What do site owners need to understand by this? Well, if Google change the rules then this may mean that work may be needed to undo something that was all above board a year ago.

If you want to succeed you will need to do this. Google make the rules not us. So, there is a chance that what worked yesterday may not work today. Ultimately there are no overnight results.

Unlike PPC if you go into SEO thinking that you will be top of the rankings within a couple of months then you need to rethink your strategy.

You need to listen to your agency. I mean really listen. The landscape has changed and you need to take in what they say. This can be frustrating as a site owner but times have changed and work may need to be carried out before any of the good stuff can be done. You may be gagging for your agency to get going but if you have a seriously bad link profile that needs sorting out then this may be what needs the initial attention. So listen to them.

Your competition will also be doing SEO: And may have been doing it longer than you. Something else you need to be realistic about is that if you are only just jumping into SEO you could be years behind. This isn’t your agencies fault. They will do the best they can but if you are starting from the beginning then you again need to be realistic.

You WILL have to do your bit: Hiring an agency does not mean it is all out of your hands.No matter how much control you hand over there will always be something you need to do. If you are asked to carry something out – jump on it. You are being asked to carry out an action for a reason not just because it is something to fill out a report.

If you have duplicate content you WILL have to deal with it: There is no way round it. If it is deemed that you have duplicate content to the point where something has to be done as soon as possible then you have to act on this.

No expert or agency informs a site owner that they have duplicate content for the fun of it. If you don’t deal with it you run the risk.

Yes this is hard work, yes it is a nightmare having to think of new unique content but that is what Google want to see. There are no short cuts. There are no easy ways around this. You can hire a copywriter or content marketing agency and that will take the hard work away but you need to deal with it.

If you have a toxic link profile you WILL have to deal with it: There is no way round this. It’s as simple as that. Google’s updates mean this is possibly the most important factor right now. If your site has a bad link profile it needs to be dealt with – even if you are yet to receive a penalty.

A bad link profile can get in the way of SEO work. Time may be needed to concentrate on this before any of the usual work is carried out.

Google have provided tools and ways to allow site owners to inform them that they no longer want to receive the links now deemed bad but if you think they have made it so easy that you can get rid of them in a week – you are very wrong.

Google like you to work for EVERYTHING.

This can take time – serious time. If you have received a penalty then you could have 6 or 7 reconsideration requests turned down before you see the penalty lifted. You may then have to wait a bit longer before you see any positive movement. This can be a very long job.

Again this will lead to sheer frustration but don’t let your frustration get in the way of understanding this process.

If you have a lack of content on your site you WILL have to deal with it: Yes it is possible to rank without content but it is becoming harder and harder. Your agency will probably advise you to create content for any pages that are lacking and it is in your best interest to create it.

You need to understand all of the above points

You really do.

All of this is now highly important in the current climate. You need to understand all of this before you embark on an SEO campaign, be it on your own or with an agency. If you turn up expecting results straight away you will have already lost.

SEO is only going to become more complex in 2014 so you need to be patient. Work with your agency if you hire one. Listen to them. Really listen to them. Don’t implement the easy stuff and ignore the hard stuff. That isn’t how it works.

Take all of this into account and you could be flying in 2014. There will be even more opportunities for agencies and clients who so SEO right to see stellar results in the New Year and that makes following all of the above a smart decision.

I hope you have all had a cracking year and everyone here at Koozai wishes you all and our wonderful clients a very Happy New Year.

Image Credit

Happy New Year 2014 celebration background with shiny wave from BigStock Images

Andy Williams

Andy Williams

Andy Williams, our DADI award winning Digital Marketing Manager will be giving you useful insights into local search and the overall SEO landscape. Andy has over 9 years experience in the SEO industry including 2 years as the in-house SEO consultant with a leading Web Design company.

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6 Comments

  • Partha 1st January 2014

    ~ “Google make the rules not us.”

    I personally disagree (to some extent) with this particular statement.

    This is true that Google impose rules however they are not solely responsible since I suppose, they have a huge analytics team who are constantly analyzing data and transforming them into information. Then that information (combined with current trends and futuristic predictions) applied in terms of new features on various Google copyrighted products/services.

    Kindly note, no rules (or features or algorithm) are solid enough and cannot be tested before actually launched/implemented on live environment. Google’s analytics team is continuously collecting data, monitoring the situation (how web is reacting to the changes they have made, how spammers are finding loopholes, how critics are posting articles on reputed blogs etc.) and coming back every time with new updates like beta version or Panda 1.0 or Panda 3.2.

    So every rule they have brought so far, we the general people / end users (socio-economic effect) played a major role into it. Although Google sometimes manipulating our tastes deliberately however needless to say that at the end of day they also need to show profit to the stakeholders too.

    A good post indeed.. :-)

    Reply to this comment

  • Nathan Brook 2nd January 2014

    I have no doubt that content marketing is still going to be an important part of SEO in 2014. However, Google may try to highlight this more by recognizing contents shared through it social network like Google +

    Reply to this comment

  • Vincent Jones 3rd January 2014

    According to Google’s guideline high quality content is always is king for the best SEO, there are also some important things we have keep in mind is that relevant land page, title tag, header tag, useful content, site speed and user experience for a better site point of view of SEO.

    Reply to this comment

  • Andy Williams

    Andy Williams 3rd January 2014

    Hi Partha, Nathan and Vincent,

    Many thanks for your comments, all really important points.

    All points as well that site owners need to understand. Part of the battle sometimes for agencies is getting site owners to truly understand exactly what is needed in the current climate.

    Another element is also that while things have changed, Google, as always remains inconsistent with it’s results. A site that is doing all the right things may still be ranking below a site that has minimal content and optimisation. Explaining to a site owner that they need to continue doing all the right things can be a tough conversation to have when they see sites around them do the minimum and sometimes less.

    Reply to this comment

  • Steph Riggs 18th January 2014

    Exactly SEO is constantly changing with the time and what method which you use in last year is not effective in 2014 because now it is very important to focus on the contents of your website. The contents must be unique and interesting enough that people want to share with others. What a website owner should understand for top ranking is described very well in your post. The trend of search engines to provide most relevant results to researchers put bloggers at a stage to think about their SEO campaign and focus on contents.

    Reply to this comment

  • Adam Methew 3rd February 2014

    Andy Williams, first of all great post. Seo define time by time and we need to follow Google guide. Avoid to do spamming. If you do black hat Seo Google will hit you when penguin update.

    Reply to this comment

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