We’ve mentioned this once or 500 times, but Google is never static. It’s always evolving, sometimes in small ways, sometimes in big ones. And that’s a big deal, because every change Google affects every single website in the world.
That can be a scary thing, but the best way for business owners to handle Google’s constant evolution is to accept it and use it to their advantage. Think of it like a riptide: If you try to swim against it, you’ll just tire yourself out and drown. (Metaphorically, of course.) No one fights Google and wins. You have to go with the flow.
In 2014, Google will be flowing more than ever. And that’s saying something, because 2013 already was a very eventful year in Google updates. The company tweaked its Penguin and Panda algorithm updates, each of which had major search ranking implications, and it delivered a big punch with the release of the Hummingbird algorithm.
We’ve hit on the major effects of those changes in previous newsletters, but the bottom line comes back, as it always does with Google, to relevance and content quality: If your site has lots of high-quality content and is highly relevant to what people are looking for, you’re going to rank well in local search results for your industry. If it doesn’t… you’re in trouble. And the longer you ignore that, the worse it’s going to get.
If you have a legitimate website and do proper, relevant search engine optimization (SEO), Google’s changes shouldn’t have serious negative effects on your site. These amendments exist to penalize spam sites and webmasters who use black-hat (deceitful) methods.
Google has been even more ambitious with its tweaks of late, reducing the ability of sites to use what some call “gray-hat” tactics — not as obviously nefarious as what’s defined as black hat, but definitely intended to game the system a bit.
Which is why it’s more important than ever to, quite simply, do the right thing. Don’t think of it as being penalized for trying to get a leg up; think of it as being rewarded for employing SEO and all your marketing methods appropriately.
As we get ready to enter 2014, here’s a few things to know to stay ahead of the curve:
The rules from 2013 still apply, just more so: The big targets of Google’s 2013 updates were sites that cheat their way to the top of the rankings and, for all intents and purposes, provide no real value to visitors. We expect this to continue, with small adjustments to algorithms to target both link quality and content quality.
It remains critical to ensure any inbound links to your site were built organically, and it’s just as critical to invest in high-quality content on your site.
Focus on content marketing: We know running your brick-and-mortar business takes up most of your focus, as it should. However, as more and more people find out about your business from the Internet — a development that’s growing faster than ever — you can’t afford to ignore your internet marketing.
Google is focusing heavily on companies that have robust content marketing efforts; they’re the businesses Google wants to support. So you need to ensure you’re regularly producing helpful content specifically targeted to your audience. Integrate that content with social media by sharing it. And increase your site’s authority with content that brands you as a local expert in the field.
Increase your social media presence, including Google+: Google wants you to jump on the social media train. We understand if tweets and Facebook updates strike you as just so much noise, but the reality is that Google is considering your business’s participation in social networks when deciding how you should rank.
And while Google+ still isn’t as heavily adopted as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks, it’s still really important for one reason: it belongs to Google. And Google, unsurprisingly, wants people using Google stuff. Google+ is playing an increasingly significant role in a solid SEO ranking, so get on that train. Your Ring Ring Marketing representative can help show you how.
Mobile matters: This will sound familiar to regular newsletter readers, but the Internet keeps getting more mobile every day. Google knows this, which is why it wants your site and your marketing efforts to be optimized to mobile visitors.
We’re reaching the point where half of all Americans own smartphones and about one-third own tablets. That’s only going to grow, especially through the 2013 holiday season.
Your business website’s mobile performance already factors in your SEO rankings, and that’s only going to increase in 2014. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile right now, that must be your top priority in 2014.