It’s been two months now since 2014 started. Every New Year brings along a lot of changes. People take new resolutions, policies and strategies of companies are modified and forecasts are made for growth aspects of business in the year et cetera. Owing to this, the question on SEO practices arises. What is 2014 expecting from SEO? What webmasters need to do to stay ahead and to impress the search engines? Every concern of webmasters on the related issue will be discussed in this blog.

Well for starters let me make it very clear that in the name of practical execution of White hat SEO, what has been implemented till now, Google is so over and way ahead it. The priorities have changed for Google, terminologies like keyword research, keyword centric research etc are all old school thoughts now. SEO finally has reached a pedestal where it was supposed to be- Digital Marketing in a real sense. As SEO is a branch of online marketing, with improvements in its execution overtime it is finally reaching there.

White hat and Google’s complying SEO in 2014 needs smooth and well integrated strategies into different dimensions of digital marketing. SEO today is way richer and complex from the conventional SEO techniques, which does make its successful execution difficult but it makes it very interesting and eliminates cheap tricks and gimmicks from it. Every webmaster has to take this challenge if they want to impress Google.

It has been a while now that I have been emphasizing on semantic search. The launch of Hummingbird changed everything in the world of SEO. Google knowledge graph supersedes all. It took Google search results to another high and made the search engine platform better than ever, giving user’s an excellent search experience, which needs websites to change a lot in terms of keywords, content and SEO strategies.

Let’s have a look on what you must avoid for SEO in 2014

Ever heard the term pseudoscience? Pseudoscience is actually a belief or a claim that is presented in a very plausible manner but it doesn’t have any plausible theory backing it up. It lacks evidence in its support and openness for evaluation. Basically it lacks logic and scientific methodology. This kind of pseudo scientific logics given by the SEO agencies providing content marketing services is what you need to avoid at first. Google is not stupid! No silly and cheap trick can take it for a ride.

If a company is guaranteeing you number one ranking on search engines super quick, they are taking you for a ride actually. See, if there was any legit hidden weapon or short cut secret formula to achieve number one ranking on Google, everybody would be there. If you want to impress Google, you got to buckle up and bring out your best creative ideas.

Pseudoscientific claims won’t take you to places but yes intelligent implementation of techniques that are legit better than your competitors can help. There are no white hat short cuts! Either they can be white hat SEO techniques or they can be mere cheap tricks guiding your website towards penalty if not today then tomorrow.

You must avoid

  • A large number of links with the similar anchor text pointing a page.
  • Shoving a keyword to a page
  • Going overboard with manipulating Google on a website
  • Giving your user a frustrating experience of your website. Slow loading speed of your website is an example of the same.
  • Chasing after the Google algorithms too much: It’s advised not to just be reactive to the Google algorithm updates, rather be proactive understand where Google is heading and follow the lead.
  • Having links on your website that doesn’t have any correlation with it. Big turnoff for both users as well as Google.
  • Inorganic links: Unnatural links do no good to your website. They just end up being a liability to your website so stop buying links just for the sake of building links, be it inorganically.

It’s not a case that all the above mentioned mistakes are sure shot to be penalized by Google, but yes they do carry a high probability of getting penalized.

This is the time where webmasters need to link their sites to highly trustworthy ones. It is one challenging task to link your website with the top notch brand names and online concerns but trust me once you achieve it, the results are really fruitful. The very first idea of linking your website to such great names is big investments in content that can be marketed or offering the linking parties the perks called the compelling benefits, which gives your website a strategic advantage over your competitors because these compelling benefits are not paid links, they are different.

Buying links is among one of the most despised technique by Google and to be honest it does work sometimes, but you have to bear burden of the risk of making Big Daddy (Google) angry with it because the Google Spam team is very unforgiving towards it.

The Guru Mantra is building new links, generating awesome content and implementing optimization techniques that are Google approved i.e meeting the Google webmaster guidelines but doing all of it ASAP. Do not hasten in your efforts to make a blunder out of it, but yes don’t be a laggard. Time is a very crucial factor for SEO.

So now once we have discussed the things we must avoid with SEO, I will be enlisting what you must do for SEO.

What to do in SEO in 2014

Need of the hour is to do smart SEO and trust me the most lethal weapon in your hand to knock down your competitors is your content. Definitely there are a lot of other aspects related to SEO, but the creativity you can reflect through smart content marketing lie to a great extent in your own hands.

Combining both SEO and content marketing together will bring a remarkable difference in the qualified search traffic than working on both these elements separately. It’s my advice for big companies that it’s time for you to combine the content marketing and SEO to a single entity in your organization.

  • Develop content as such that even Wikipedia is tempted to link to it: Wikipedia is the sure shot way of getting traffic because Google loves it. You search for a term and among the top most results of Google, there is Wikipedia. It is one of the most loved sites of the world. Time for numbers- Do you know how much traffic comedy central generates with the help of Wikipedia? A hundred thousand each month! Shocking, isn’t it? The beauty of Wikipedia is the back-link generation from other websites facilitated by it. The trick to get links from Wikipedia is to check its broken link building page. When the links go dead, Wikipedia notices them at once and it gives its editors an opportunity for its replacement. All you have to do is search on Google, typing www.wikipedia.org and type the keyword “dead link”. This will bring forward a lot of results of broken links containing the keyword entered.

Open the search result and look for the dead link phrase present on the page. Pick the very same URL, insert it in archive.org and create a same page on your own website presuming that it will provide value to your audiences and it totally relates to your business. Once this page is created, access the Wikipedia entry and click the edit button. Sign up for an account first and edit some articles, this will reflect your thoughtfulness and will act as a gesture to add value to Wikipedia.

Ahrefs is another option, if you want to go all sophisticated.Pick up the broken link URL, put it in Ahrefs and it will give you a whole list of the websites linking to the dead link. Contact the website owners and request them to replace the dead link with yours.

A tip for the same- Learn beforehand the perspective of your visitors and the accordingly develop a page that will be relevant to them. Don’t build them just for the sake of building new ones. Providing value to audiences and making sense out of them must be your first priority.

  • Understand the keyword data and frame content around it: Blogging is need of the hour but blogging anything just because you need to blog is shallow. As I have mentioned in the first point about understanding the perspective of your users and accordingly building links, same ruling applies on blogging. It’s the very purpose of blogging, conveying your personal thoughts to your audiences. Another thing to be kept in mind while blogging is to creatively focus on the incorporation of the target keywords in them. Knowing which keywords help you get most of the traffic is made cake walk by the Google Analytics reports

So now when you have a proper list of the targeted keywords all that’s needed is framing gripping and informative content revolving around these keywords and folks need I remind again the ultimate target is your audience so the assumption is always adding value to them. Another Google tool that can help you with this is Google trendsIt helps the webmasters cross check the popularity of these keywords.

Isn’t it but obvious to write content around keywords that are hot among audiences and Google trends will help you make sure using them. An old but important warning- Just because the keywords are trending, doesn’t mean you will stuff them in your content.

  • Do not compromise on content quality for the sake of making it long: The days when you could vomit a lot of filth on Google and get traffic in return are long gone. Google is the website that is visited by largest number of people in the world and you know why? It gives its users quality so good, that users feel Google read their minds. Google through its algorithms is very transparent and clear in terms of what it wants for its audience and accordingly ranks content. Webmasters must keep in mind Google wants from them content that gives rich information to its users. If you want me to put it in numbers on an average the length of content in a web page that Google ranks on top of its search results is close to a thousand words.

It will be interesting for you to know that there is a correlation between high word count and high number of back links on a webpage.Content of high word count having a large number of back links tends to rank well. Images below reflect the correlation.

Another tool that comes out handy is the Google in depth article feature, it helps in developing high quality content that is in deep and helps in enhancing the search engine traffic with the help of its updates. Keep your primary focus on the quality of your content and once you attain it, you can shift your focus on the quantity.

  • Leverage content through frequently asked questions: Bouncing back of visitors is something very annoying for webmasters. There are various tools available that helps webmasters understand the reason of bouncing back of customers. Survey monkey and Qualaroo helps you understand your visitors well. With their help you should ask your visitors questions. The questions can be:
  • What kind of content do you want to see on the web page
  • What prevents you from becoming our customers on payment basis?
  • The issues and concerns you have about the product/services

Such queries help you understand the mindset of your visitors and why they are not converting themselves as your customers. Your support team can help you find out the reasons why your visitors do not stick and bounce back, the reasons might come in the form of objections and you have to act accordingly. Also you can go through your support emails to understand what keeps your visitors away from being your customers.

List down all the issues, objections and concerns your visitors have with your website and approach them again, not individually but through the FAQ’s along with your satisfactory answers to each of them.

This will benefit you in terms of ranking well for long tail phrases relating your product as well. This is not a magic spell, but yes it works remarkably, as in you won’t be showered by visitors, but there will be improvement and their definitely will be rise in conversions.

  • Focus towards industry blogs for giving guests the opportunities to blog: Larger the number of links, the better. It’s very essential to direct the team of content marketing towards the industry centric blogs. The best part about it is that it helps in generation of relevant traffic. I personally believe that guest blogs helps in getting very authentic internal links to your site and avoiding rich anchor texts. Guest blogging doesn’t only helps in enhancing your referral traffic but improving your search traffic too. Here are a few points that can help you increasing the search traffic:
  • Do not guest blog or post for any website, you will get relevant links only when you’ll post for relevant sites.
  • Keep your focus on adding value to the users and do not bluff search engines by linking blind folded to your website.
  • Rich anchor text won’t take you anywhere, so avoid using it.
  • Philanthropy helps: It’s good to focus on your own keyword conversions and minding your own business but being too much self-centric can take away a lot of potential traffic from you. Sometimes helping out a dedicated and loyal customer in the form of guidance through your blog helps you gain traffic from random terms of your industry. This won’t immediately show effect, as in the prospects won’t become your dedicated customer right the moment he comes across your content.

For the sake of illustration if I am guiding one of my profitable customers with a blog how to fight negative SEO attack on your website it might help in gaining extra traffic in the form of smart online marketers and they take time to trust as they are super cautious and knowledgeable people.

After keeping a track on us they might decide to trust us and try our services. What drives them to us? Yes sir, it’s our brilliant and thoughtful content. Smart philanthropy works.

  • Do not compromise on internal-linking: Simply adding interesting content to your website won’t suffice, it’s very important to cross link the content as well. It is one of the on-page SEO issues faced by webmasters and if successfully tackled they help in a big way. When your site structure is such that it has very large number of pages its complete indexation is not possible, which is why cross-linking is important. One of the biggest reasons behind the success of Wikipedia is how well it is linked internally. Just keep in mind while linking your website internally, do not use rich anchor text too much because as I have been saying continually it doesn’t do much good.

Follow Google’s regulations while linking your website internally because a fault in it can cause you a penalty. Your internal linking must not frustrate the search engines and your prospects as well as customers.

Saying what you must do and what you must not do for SEO in 2014 is just for the sake of saying it actually. SEO doesn’t have a set pattern which goes for a year in totality. The trends, techniques, tricks etc. keep changing very frequently.

Because the year is new, it will bring along new challenges and opportunities but what’s new today will become dormant tomorrow and our webmasters need to stay alert and updated all the time. There is no one best way to do a thing, what works in a scenario legitimately is the best way.

SEO 2014 - What to Do and What Not to Do in SEO in 2014 A complete guide by