With the advent of a new year comes a series of reviews and resolutions that range from personal goals to workplace objectives, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not an exception. Since countless updates are rolled out on an ongoing basis, keeping up with best practices is essential for success. At the dawn of 2014, these are the main ranking factors to keep in mind:
Localization – Advances toward localized search results have been evident throughout the past months. As Search Engines become more efficient at identifying a user’s location, there is no need to append cities or states to searches in order to obtain local results. In fact, conducting the same search on the same computer at home and at the office is likely to bring up different results based on location.
What this means for SEO strategy is that including cities and states in metadata is no longer required for local rankings. Instead, what’s needed is a cohesive online presence – including a verified Google+ page.
Personalization – Search Engines have become smarter in how they understand queries and learn our behaviors. Since it is nearly impossible to stay logged out of a profile – as checking Gmail or logging into YouTube or Google+ may automatically log you in – we are constantly providing data about our interests. So, if a marine biologist and a fitness enthusiast search for “scales,” they will get different results that are tailored to their interests based on their previous search behavior.
In terms of SEO strategy, this is excellent news, as it strengthens the authority of websites that provide valuable content for their industry, and it eliminates the probability of irrelevant search results.
Content – Perhaps the hardest update to embrace is the reduced importance of exact match keywords. Instead, content and topic areas are now at center stage. Google’s new algorithm, Hummingbird, enables the search engine to understand context and synonyms. And, even though it is an extraordinary advance, the challenge lies in the need to unlearn how SEO has been done in the past.
While this doesn’t mean that keywords are irrelevant, it means that it is no longer necessary to have a landing page for each variation of a keyword. Having a well-structured page about the topic will suffice.
The Hummingbird search algorithm is still comprised of over 200 factors, but the new technologies recently acquired by Google make these three items move closer than ever to the top of the priority list. The good news is that if you have already been building your SEO strategy with the best interest of searchers in mind, there is no need to be concerned. Quality content will always be rewarded.