You probably know that SEO – ‘search engine optimization’ to the
uninitiated – is a really, really, really important factor in making sure
people can find you online. Really. In fact, nearly half of all web traffic comes from natural searches.
And as an online retailer, it goes without
saying that your visibility in Google search results is massively important.
So, it’s critical that you know that Google forced a big SEO change
last year and you may very well have to reconsider your SEO strategies
the year that was
Throughout the years, SEO has been a
rapidly changing beast. But 2013 was a year of particularly dramatic change.
While Google changes its search algorithm
around 500-600 times each year – mostly minor changes – occasionally, they’ll
roll out a major algorithmic update which affects search results significantly.
And guess what – in 2013, there were three
did these updates change?
Penguin 2.0 and Penguin 2.1 – released in
May and October respectively – took aim at spam sites, and particularly links
from paid sites or networks, reaffirming Google’s no tolerance view on spam and
underscoring the importance of high quality content.
And Hummingbird – which flapped its wings
into our lives in August – was the biggest search algorithm update since 2001,
affecting 90 percent of search results. Pretty earth-shattering stuff! Again, Hummingbird
was all about delivering a more sophisticated and intuitive experience for searchers
– and it pretty much changed everything.
In short, these updates are all about
Google’s ongoing drive towards social signals and conversational search. The
over-riding idea is that Google should show content and sites based on search
intent instead of simple keywords. Stuff that’s relevant, accurate, current and
In this new era of sophisticated search
results, Google provides results based on a wider range of data sources than
ever before – indexed sites, social networks, ad networks, and more.
In its purest sense, ‘SEO’ – i.e.,
optimizing websites to be found on search engines – is not dead, and can’t
possibly die as long as search engines exist.
Having said that, the ‘old’ SEO of
optimizing websites using cheap, smoke-and-mirror tricks, is definitely dead…or
at least in its death throes, waiting to be finished off.
Search engines remain a vital source of
traffic, so how do we go about making it work for us?
Upon the release of Hummingbird, Google told
SEOs that there was nothing new to worry about –simply have original,
high-quality content. Everything that was
important, still is, but
Hummingbird allows Google to process them in new, hopefully better ways.
So, in short, the answer is content. Or,
rather, high-quality content. The creation of tailored, informative blogs and
articles, e-books and videos, which add value to your user experience.
2014 SEO gameplan
Coming off the back of such a volatile
year, it’s difficult to predict what changes we might see in 2014. But one
thing’s clear; sites with high-quality, useful content, will continue to be
So our tips to you for 2014 are as follows:
- Stay honest – the cheap tricks
won’t work anymore, and reflect horribly on your brand!
- Create great content – stuff
that answers questions, is useful to your audience
- Think ‘topics’ rather than
- Be an authority and educate
your audience – you are a source of great expertise that is valuable to others,
so share it!
- Don’t just use your blog to
make announcements and post corporate news stories. Take advantage of this
chance to talk passionately about your product and your industry.
- Use social media platforms –
specifically Google+. This can make a massive impact on your sites authority
and placement in search results, as well as adding a human element to SEO.
- Create strong pillar pages that
are highly valuable, useful, shareable and easy to link to.
- Finally, avoid bad link
building strategies with irrelevant inbound links. It’s all about quality over