SEO is an ever-changing subject and every year, SEO’s from around the globe attempt to predict what Google (and Bing/Yahoo) have in store for us in the year ahead. Many times, these predictions are spot-on and a few months into the year, the predicted changes take place. Other times however, predictions are not-so-accurate and instead, Google opts for an entirely different path.
Although it’s hard to know what Google has in store for us next, we’ve come up with a few predictions that we think are highly likely to come into play this year or have already started to play a big part in how everyone should be considering their campaigns past and present.
#1 – Crackdown on (Low-Quality) Guest Posting
There has been a lot of fuss about guest posting in the last few months (mainly due to this blog post by Matt Cutts) and even before that, there were many rumours regarding the idea that Google would soon crack down on “guest posting”.
If you’re unfamiliar with guest posting, it’s essentially the act of writing for another person’s (or companies) blog in exchange for an author bio highlighting the authors knowledge on the subject. Guest posting has been around for years and the interesting thing about the tactic is that it is completely legitimate, before guest posting turned into “trend” it was probably the best kept secret for gaining qaulity resources and connections. There’s nothing wrong with writing for someone else’s blog at all. The problem is, it’s become increasingly spammy over the last couple of years and will continue to get spammier until the proverbial shit hits the fan later this year algorithms can identify a low quality guest post.
These days, SEO’s around the world are guest posting solely for the ‘link’ instead of writing engaging, like-able, tweet-able content and not surprisingly, this is a problem. What’s more, a lot of these links are spammy and over-optimised.
Be careful if you plan to do a lot of guest posting, doing it is perfectly viable and well worth the effort but if you do it, excel in it ! do it not for the backlink but to try and generate traffic and people to the blog you are writing for, look for sites which are not openly advertising the fact they accept guest posts and if you see nothing but guest posts on a blog……..move on.
Lets be clear, Guest posting will NOT be penalised or punished and it will NOT die, its how you do it and where you do it that will come under scrutiny.
#2 – Less Weight Given To Anchored Links
Google might have significantly lowered the weight given to high volumes of anchored links over the last few years, we predict that in 2014, this will be taken to the next level. In a way this has already happened with the enhanced look into brand URL’s and Anchors.
A lot of websites are still ranking with unusually high amounts of exact-match links and to most people with an ounce of knowledge in the industry, it’s clear that these backlink profiles are over-optimised and are intended to manipulate Google’s search results.
Again this shouldnt be a problem for anyone that is building a backlink profile diverse enough to cope with the changes, branding and absolute anchors still help considerably with your link building indirectly through building authority to the domains, in turn helping boost your long tails and primary keyphrases….and in many cases is a much more effective plan for local searches and a much safer game to play if your doing it in house to avoid being caught up in these “SEO trends” which so many people get pulled into.
#3 – More Weight Given To Mobile-Optimised Sites
With the increase in Smartphone and tablet PC usage (along with a decrease in traditional desktop computing), it’s highly likely that Google (and other search engines) will give more weight to websites with mobile-optimised versions of their sites in 2014 , there is already clear signs of this and the integration of the mobile page speed meter in Google’s page speed insights is a clear indication this is the direction its heading.
More people are buying tablet PC’s than laptops and desktops combined these days, so it only makes sense to ensure that mobile web users are getting the best user experience. How do you make sure they’re getting this? By favouring mobile-optimised sites over non-mobile-optimised ones.
Therefore, if your business doesn’t already have a mobile-optimised website (either standalone or responsive), 2014 could be the year that you make the investment. It’s likely that the most cost effective option is to create a responsive website. This will ensure that your website looks the way it should on almost all devices (including tablets, desktops and Smartphones).
Rule of thumb , if your web designer or developer is still not delivering mobile friendly websites at this late stage or at least providing a mobile platform alternative then your already behind the game and your developer is out of date by a considerably mile, Need someone to make your website responsive or mobile friendly ? Get in touch with us for a quote.
#4 – Infographic Links Will Be Devalued
We’ve already mentioned guest posting and the idea that spammy and low-quality guest posts (and their links) will be devalued by Google (and perhaps other search engines too). Unfortunately, we predict that this will also be the case for infographic links.
Infographics are used by thousands of websites around the world to not only build links but also, to introduce their websites to an entirely new audience. Usually, infographics will be embedded on websites that have a slightly different audience to the creators website and thus, they’re a great content marketing tactic.
However, much like guest posts, a lot of infographics are being created solely for link building purples and unfortunately, these tend to be the most spammy ones. Webmasters and SEO’s have been using “embed links” to get a quick and easy link to their website for years.
In 2014, we’re expecting Google to significant devalue these links. We expect Google to take into account the placement of the link, the anchor text and authority of the site it’s placed on to determine the quality of that link.
To really punch home how we feel about infographics we feel Rand really hits a home run with explaining the general consensus here :
#5 – Increased Reliance On “Social” As A Ranking Factor
Google will further increase the weight of “social” attributes as a ranking factor in 2014.
Social shares/likes are already a factor in Google’s algorithm and according to Moz.com, they already contribute significantly to the rank of a website or page. This is because social signals are typically a good way to decide whether or not a particular page or website has had a lasting impression on a visitor. If a visitor shares that page on their chosen social network, it must mean that they found the content useful and would recommend it to their friends/family (well, they have).
Therefore, it’s likely that Google will increase the reliance on social factors in their algorithm in 2014. In particular, it’s likely that Google + will play a much bigger part in the ranking process.
Have any of your own to add? If so, comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.