Every couple of years, SEO evolves into a mysteriously new discipline. As traditional push marketing continues to die off and industries continue to measure the impact that organic search has on overall growth, inbound marketing strategies (like SEO) continue to grow increasingly more sophisticated and challenging.
In fact, according to a study conducted by the National Retail Federation, in 2014 85% of online retailers found search marketing (including SEO) to be the most effective form of customer acquisition. But certainly not the easiest. This relatively new and powerfully effective form of marketing is only poised to grow and become even more important in the coming years.
In order for SEO practitioners to either build or continue the momentum, here are 5 of the most critical aspects of SEO to focus on in the coming months and years.
Let's Start with the Obvious: Content
For those of you who have been paying attention, this comes as no surprise. While the need to create great content is nothing new, it does still bear repeating as many folks are still producing thin, keyword-riddled content written for Google bots, not their targeted audience.
Google's algorithms increasingly focus on the actual value of content. This simply means that black-hat tactics no longer work. Google demands high-quality, relevant, and useful content. Anything else is simply harming your efforts. Be sure that all of the content you generate and publish is top-notch and written with the audience in mind. Make content as useful and intriguing to your audience as possible through emerging data points, tips and tricks on relevant topics, and visual devices.
There are plenty of resources online that give great information about how to optimize content to boost SEO. Study content generation tools, great authors, and whatever else you think will assist you in creating epically great content because this aspect of SEO is not going to change.
Link Building and Brand Mentions
Everyone should know the difference between good backlinks, bad backlinks, and the associated traits. This is massively important as proper link building remains critical although some things are set to change.
Recently, a patent submission was uncovered that shows that Google is now looking to differentiate between "express links" and "implied links". Express links are what are currently thought of as just links; URLs that lead viewers back to a certain webpage. Implied links, on the other hand, are references or mentions of a brand without linking back to the original site.
The likely reason for this alteration is the rampant abuse of the link building process. By utilizing implied links, it is far less likely for this to occur as it is much more difficult to manipulate. As the year progresses, more businesses will begin to measure and track these "nofollow" links as they become equally as important as the "dofollow" links. So while brand mentions may not require a hyperlink, they will still be a crucial factor for SEO.
Mobile is an essential force these days and cannot be ignored. In May of 2014, mobile surpassed desktop in digital media time spent by device. Since smartphone devices have become so commonplace, a mobile version of your website should be at the core of your SEO blueprint. Google recommends a responsive design for online businesses and has already begun to reward sites that have already completed this initiative. Mobilegeddon. was discussed in a previous post.
Optimized Images and Videos
Images and videos have become a massive part online content and any good SEO strategy. Recently, Cisco Systems predicted that by 2018, 80% â€“ 90% of all global consumer web traffic would be accounted for by videos. With the massive amount of attention that video content receives and the pivotal role that images play in content advertising, optimizing these visuals should be at the top of every marketerâ€™s mind.
When utilizing any videos or images, first make sure that they are relevant to the message you are trying to convey. Remember that these are tools to enhance your content, not to draw away from it.
Next, it is essential that you tag these videos or images with the appropriate information. Things that must be included are:
File Names â€“ These provide additional information to search engines on how the images relate to the rest of the content on the page or site.
Image Tags â€“ These display words about the images when a userâ€™s cursor is held over them, giving search engines further information about the images.
Alt Tags - These provide text when images fail to load for any given reason and explain exactly what the images are.
Optimized images can bring you traffic from Google Images and other sources.
Optimized videos can send you traffic, links, and mentions from websites like YouTube, Vimeo, and more. By optimizing images, you are simply providing visitors and Google with more information, which will help you rank higher.
The Speed You Need
Alongside all of this, speed is one of the most crucial factors for ranking. If your site takes too long to load, you are losing prospects left and right. Not to mention that Google will drop your ranking.
Google's PageSpeed Tools will help you measure page-load time on your site, how fast a browser parses script and prepares it for the user, amongst many other valuable metrics. Monitoring this will assist you in ensuring that your website is always running at peak performance and proper speeds.
SEO can be a troublesome endeavor. By implementing these 5 aspects of SEO to your blueprint, you will be making impressive headway to becoming an SEO superstar.
What SEO tactics that are important this year do you see changing in the future?
About The Author:
Digital producer, online marketer, community manager, and multi-faceted writer Tina Courtney-Brown has been managing cross-functional teams for online businesses since 1996. Tina has assisted many clients in maximizing online production and marketing efforts, as one of the Web's foremost webmaster and tech news blogs. She's produced and marketed innovative content for major players like Disney and JDate, as well as boutique startups galore, with fortes including social media, SEO, massively multiplayer games, community management, social networks, and project management. Tina is also a certified Reiki practitioner, herbalist, nonprofit director and spiritual counselor. Learn more at her personal website, or find her on Facebook and Google+.