The first month and a half of 2014 is now behind us. How fast time flies! It feels like just the other day we were ushering in the New Year. We are yet to get into the depths of 2014 and what it entails for the world of SEO.
What is going to happen in SEO this year? What should we expect from Google? Are we going to be seeing more changes to the Google algorithm?
My answer to the above questions can only come from an educated guess. I base my response on previous trends and what happened just before the close of 2013.
So here are some key issues I think will be playing a big role in SEO in 2014.
We all try to engage visitors to our sites. User engagement is one of those things that are expected to increase in importance as a measure of validity, reliability and reputation for your website. Through the “return to search” algorithm in Panda, Google will be monitoring the time it takes a user to click on your listing on the SERP and then go back to Google. The faster this happens, the more likely Google will think your site wasn’t the right result. That translates to a drop in your rankings.
I strongly believe that time is up for guest blogging. For a while, that was the go-to way to deliver great SERP rankings, but now I think Google is going to penalize any blog with do-follow links if the post is marked as a guest post. Moreover, I think sites with many links emanating from these posts will face the same fate.
Guest blogging is only going to remain relevant for experts in specific fields who have an authorship box linking back to their Google+ profiles.
In 2014, expect to see more emphasis on natural links. How many people in SEO today know what natural links are? Your links will have to be a by-product of your activity online. Forget creating a link-building strategy for now. Focus instead on creating traffic, because Google is going to be more strict in identifying unnatural links. The work will be done manually, and the penalties are going to hurt more webmasters than ever before.
I know several marketers who have felt these effects first hand, and Google manually unranked their sites. This takes a lot of work to recover from and even then, there’s no guarantee that Google will remove the ban.
The Disavow Tool
Bad links will only get you penalized, so I expect Disavow will continue to be popular with webmasters. Use this tool to remove the bad links. Keep your site clean to avoid incurring manual penalties.
So that’s what I expect for SEO in 2014. Despite the naysayers and doom-predictors that have popped up over the past few years, SEO is not going to be obsolete any time. It’s still going strong. We’ll be using these techniques and quality content to get our pages better rankings and more revenue for our efforts, and clients too.