Five SEO Essentials For 2014



Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a field that constantly evolves, mainly because of Google’s frequent ranking algorithm updates. As a website owner, it is critical to keep up with the latest, best techniques to use – and outdated ones to drop – if you are serious about ranking your site. Here are five SEO essentials for 2014, all of which apply to every business, niche and website.

Test everything

No matter who says it, never take anything you hear about SEO at face value. It’s a common mistake for less-experienced site owners to trust rumors and hearsay presented as fact on forums and blogs across the Internet. There is, of course, a great deal of genuine information passed on in this way, but there is also a lot of rubbish and hyperbole that gets regurgitated online.

The key is to verify as much information as you can, preferably at the source, then test everything for yourself. Set up a secondary site on which you can run tests. Make sure that site is set up to log important statistics (such as through Google Analytics) and track metrics for all your SEO activities. This is the only way you can differentiate between truth and urban myth – and, more importantly, figure out what works for your business.

Links are still important

Although Google clamps down on automated and easy link-building every time they update their algorithm, backlinks do still help rankings in 2014. The important thing is quality, rather than quantity.

To avoid being penalized, you must determine the right keywords to use, the right sites to work with for your links and the right number of links to build in order to get ranked. You also need to consider how quickly those links are created, so that there is a natural progression rather than a sudden, all-at-once flood of new links.

This is where testing is vital. Do not carry out experiments on your primary site: build a completely separate test site and run your tests there. This will allow you to get accurate information on what works and what doesn’t.

Avoid link farms

Back in the day, it was easy to rank a site on the search engines by slapping some cheap content onto a bunch of article directories and private site networks. This does not work any more. You must avoid link farms, as they are likely to damage your site’s reputation.

Instead, make sure that you get links from genuine, reputable sites to avoid getting bad link messages in your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. If you’re wondering how to spot good links, the easiest way to check is to consider whether the link will bring human visitors to your site. If that’s unlikely, Google will probably tag it as a spam link and down-rate you for it.

Post original content

The days of spun content are also gone. Spinning articles was always a cheap, effective way of generating unique content (in search engine terms) to distribute across all those article directories and private networks. It is now a great way to prevent your site from ever ranking on the first page of Google!

Although you would see a significant reduction in your content costs, the effect of article spinning is devastating in the long run. Not only will Google’s algorithm spot the content as spun copies and mark them all as duplicates, but it will also tag the content as useless, uninformative and, to be blunt, spam. That’s a lot of negative marks for every spun copy.

It is absolutely critical to stick to original content for your site. You can find freelance writers to create original content at attractive prices if you hunt around. Original content is the best solution to better rankings in the long run.

Create social signals

Most SEO professionals agree that the search engines place a lot of importance on social signals for ranking websites. For this reason, you must ensure that your site has a good social media presence. You should also make it easy for your visitors to share your content across their social profiles. Make sure your sharing buttons are placed conspicuously and work smoothly.

Since the search engine companies keep their ranking algorithms secret, SEO will never be an exact science, but these five essentials will give you a solid foundation on which to build your strategy. They should also be reliable standards for the future, no matter what specific changes Google implements in their ranking system.

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