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New Year - New Perspective to your SEO

It’s that time of year again, that all of us find our minds wandering to how we can improve different elements of our lives and reviewing where we’re at in life in general.

If you’ve got a business with a website presence, then use this time to take a similar view of your online marketing – where is it at, what can be done differently and how can you improve it?

One of the most challenging, and potentially rewarding, streams of online marketing is Search Engine Optimisation ( SEO ) – having your site rank 1st in Google for a high traffic, relevant keyword, can be the difference between being an internet millionaire or just another “try hard” with little reward.

The past 2 years have seen massive changes in the SEO landscape, primarily driven by the behemoth, Google, and it’s now infamous Google Updates of Penguin and Panda. Fear not though – use our top 14 tips for 2014 below to make sure you’re on the right track:

1. Content is King, Emperor, Ruler and Sovereign

So Google has been telling us for years that what it wants is great content that returns information to what a searcher is looking for. Well in 2012 and 2013 it took steps to ensure that great content was rewarded. If your site has weak content, or is not engaging or informative – chances are it won’t be ranking as well as it could be.

Write your content from the perspective you are writing it for your readers – not for the search engines. Things such as keyword density are so 2010 it’s unbelievable. Google’s recent Hummingbird update means you can write great content with almost reckless abandon, and Google will understand it and rank it accordingly.

2. Not All Content is the Same

Ok so you’re wordsmith and you can create 1000’s of words a day of content – good on you, the search World is your oyster my friend – but – remember a picture can tell a thousand words, and also generate a 1000 visits!

We all remember funny Youtube videos, and those hilarious pictures of Lol Cats – but interestingly peoples recollection of a well written piece of content on the merits of the Global Economy isn’t quite as engaging. Also, remember that Youtube is now the 2nd most visited search engine in the World – and of course, being Google owned, Google loves a Youtube video.

So try and add different media content to your sites if its appropriate – there is some skill involved in ensuring this different type of content is recognised and ranked for what it is – but believe me, adding video, images, podcasts and other rich media is a good thing!!!

3. Get Social…

Why would a business want to be on Facebook and Twitter right? Surely we just use those places to spy on old school friends and see who’s had another failed marriage ( or is that just me? ).

Well, social media is playing an ever more important role in business’ online marketing mix, and from an SEO perspective, there is a direct correlation between a sites authority and the amount of social signals it receives. Spend some time developing a coherent social media strategy – if done properly, it will deliver in terms of traffic, goals and adding authority to your site.

4. Did I Say Get Social – Let’s Talk Linkedin and Google+

So Facebook and Twitter are the starting points for social media – everyone’s on them, but for businesses – Google+ and Linkedin are the powerhouses!!

Let me explain – Google+ is the fastest growing social network in the World right now, and guess what? Google kind if likes it, and likes people and businesses that use it. It also has all the data that Google+ creates – so if your site and profile have a lot of interaction and +1’s being created, then you can expect to be rewarded accordingly.

Linkedin is like a big networking community – the people with good, worthwhile things to say can expect to see good, worthwhile things happen there. Oh, and you know that great content we were just talking about before….get that up on Linkedin. The skill here is to be heard above the noise – the way to be heard is by having something to show and tell people (remember in School? ) that no one else has.

5. Don’t Forget the Basic

SEO has always being a complicated subject – so many things to do, so much to analyse, so much to evaluate and then change….but don’t lose site of the basics.

You know your business and industry, and you should know what kind of words you want to rank for – so on top of creating that great content ( all roads lead to great content! ) , make sure you have good, keyword rich and naturally written title and description tags. Make sure you have relevant H1 tags in use. Lay your page out well.  I could go on, but you get the gist – it’s fine having a complex and brain busting strategy, but if the basics aren’t there, then you’re never going to realise the true effects of that strategy.

6. Audit

Linked to tip no 5 – undertake an SEO audit of your site. There are loads out there to follow, and it is time well spent either conducting one yourself, or getting an agency to carry one out.

A good, comprehensive audit will give you an action plan of things that may have been missed, or need updating. It will, at the completion of the audit, give you peace of mind your site is upto standard.

Shoes maketh the man – a completed and actioned SEO audit can maketh the site!

7.  Webmaster Tools is your Friend

It never ceases to amaze me how few people make use of Webmaster Tools. WMT as it is affectionately known is a brilliant resource. It’s Googles official communication piece to tell you what it likes and dislikes about your site. It will even send you a message if there is something intrinsically wrong.

Make a diary note to check your WMT at least once a week (we do it daily ). If it seems a little daunting and you’re not sure what all the crazy graphs and information actually means, undertake a little training. With WMT, a little knowledge can give you a lot of power!

8. WMT is your Friend – Make Google Analytics your Lover

Ok, so let’s not get weird on this – when I say make analytics your lover, I just mean if you’re close to WMT, then you need to be CLOSER to GA.

You should be in GA everyday – it tells you everything about the people visiting your site, their behaviour, what works and doesn’t work on your site – there is nothing you cannot find through GA.

The complexity of GA means that sometimes you either can’t find what you’re looking for, or you just don’t know that data exists in there. Again, it is worth undertaking a little training on GA if you feel you need it. That extra knowledge will pay dividends in the efficiency you will gain in using GA and the information you will be able to extract!

GA will also give you all the clues you need if things go wrong (or right!) and provide a lot of evidence behind why things have changed and help you too act accordingly.

Oh, you can also get some really cool looking graphs and funnels!

9. Links Still Work

The Google Penguin update was all about penalising poor, irrelevant links – as a result a lot of people just stopped link building. Full Stop. Nada.

Big mistake – good, relevant links still work incredibly well. Look at it this way – if there is a site with guides to the best Cameras you can buy, and you sell Cameras – why wouldn’t you want a link from that site?

As a rule of thumb, if people are likely to click the link you build, and enjoy the experience of landing on your site as a result, then chances are it’s a good link.

The days of building 1000 links a day from irrelevant sites that are low quality – yes those days are gone. Good quality over mass quantity is kind of what we’re looking for here.

10. On the subject of Links

Think outside the box in 2014 – people’s habits are changing! 8 years ago, building a link would be quite a task for the normal browser, and as a consequence, if we’re honest, naturally built links just didn’t happen.

Now, due to WYSIWYG editor style cms’, people can build links quickly and easily. Where I’m going with this, is if you build something link worthy – chances are it will get linked too.

So if we go back to the camera site – perhaps you can build a tool which compares the top 10 cameras at the moment. Something of use that will get linked, shared and visited! That’s about as good as it gets!

11.  Usability

We all work so close to our sites – sometimes we even built them ourselves – that is can be so easy to miss glaringly obvious mistakes.

It’s worth spending some time on usability. There are so many ways to go round conducting this, but you may get a specialist company to do a study and feedback.

Whilst this is good for your overall visitor experience, it can also help SEO. A site with a consistently high bounce rate will struggle to maintain those top positions – after all, why would Google want a site no 1 in its rankings if people visiting that site can’t engage with it?

12.  Reputation Management

Good or bad – you choose – but the fact is your businesses reputation is up for grabs right now! The increase in the use of sites such as Trip Advisor and Trust Pilot has had a massive impact on how people will perceive and trust brands.

You think Google doesn’t look and listen to sites like that? Think again! A brand with consistently bad reviews and negative search terms can expect to be taking a dive to page 2 in a search engine near you soon.

13.  Don’t Be Tempted By Quick Wins

Success rarely comes quickly, so don’t be seduced by tactics that promise quick wins in Google. Everything you do should be ethical and natural – anything that falls outside these parameters and you’re running the risk of gaining a hefty penalty. Is it really worth it? No I didn’t think so.

Hard, consistent work will win the day – not “gaming” Google.

14.   Enjoy Your Site

Across all the clients we work with, it is no coincidence that the sites that seem to consistently do better are the ones where the clients have a genuine love for their site and business.

The extra 10% of care and attention you put into your site as a result can be amplified through everything else we do as an agency.

Consistently “work” your site to make it as good an experience for your customers as possible.

Enjoy 2014 and I hope all your SEO dreams come true!

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