If Google has shown us anything in the past half-decade, it’s that the periodic updates to its search algorithm are a dynamic – and sometimes feared – development that can send waves through your SEO program. Although constants such as well-written content and robust social signals always seem to come out near the top, many previously popular ranking tactics have fallen by the wayside.
By studying the recent marketing trends and using Analytics to pinpoint channels of engagement, I’ve been able to distill six solid search engine marketing strategies for small businesses:
There was Google Panda and Google Penguin, which targeted link-schemes and dropped content-farms largely out of the search results. The newest update is Hummingbird, and this is the one that will drive SEO in 2014. Although supposedly complicated, the only thing you really need to know about Hummingbird is that it is geared to facilitate human interaction with websites – which means make sure your web pages are optimized to be read and understood by people, instead of search engines.
Keywords are still important, of course, but your site should answer a need instead of directly pitching a product or service.
Because Google is so focused on trust and authority in the year to come, guest blogging for authoritative websites can do wonders for both direct traffic and SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) placement. One way to add this to your repertoire is to link your Google+ profile to the articles you write on the web (for various publications, as well as for your own website). Your picture will show up in search results next to the articles and contribute to the important Author rank metric that is a prominent part of the algorithm update.
Local marketing figures prominently in search engine marketing strategies for small businesses in 2014. After all, just consider how much trust is ascribed to a company that can not only be found in search results for given keywords, but also has a localized presence – this is something that spammers and scammers do NOT have. Even if your service or product is available nationally, globally, consider establishing a local presence using keywords that identify city and state.
Keyword research is more varied than ever before; using exact-match keywords no longer works nearly as well as it used to. After your domain name, be sure to use generic words when hyper linking your content. The key is to have your content spread naturally, and normal people do not link using precise keywords most of the time.
Focus on your own website, because content marketing will be bigger than ever in 2014. Avoid spending the bulk of your time on article marketing as in the past – although this still works with the highest-quality article directories. There’s no doubt about it, though; content marketing is so important that companies promising ghost-written content are springing up everywhere to take advantage. Make sure your content is targeted, relevant, gives something of value, and asks for something in return – by way of the all-important call-to-action. Not every post needs this, of course, but take advantage of it when necessary.
Remember the importance given to social signals earlier? A more in-depth elaboration points to research that indicates successful businesses are on an average of 7 social networks. Develop an engaging profile for your small business and start connecting with social networks to take full advantage of promotion in cyberspace.