With so many significant changes in the world of SEO over the past year, it can be hard for non-SEO professionals to keep track of whatâ€™s still relevant and what isnâ€™t.
Fortunately, while Google completely replaced their previous algorithm with Hummingbird, their gold standard for webmasters hasnâ€™t changed: they want us to provide the best content and the best user-experience possible.
But what does this mean in 2014? What on-page factors are still relevant, both for readers and search engines?
1.Â Â Â Â Â A Frequently-Updated Blog with Awesome Content
Just a few years ago, blogs werenâ€™t thought of as a way for companies to publish content, build their brand, grow their audience, and build authority in their field. Now, theyâ€™re an absolute necessity.
In my own testing, Iâ€™ve already seen a 51.38% average increase in Google organic search traffic since publishing daily blog content with custom images, offering valuable insights. For more information about how important a blog is for SEO traffic, see â€œWhy an Active Blog is Necessary for a Successful SEO Initiative,â€ and â€œ10 Steps to SEO-Optimizing Your Blog Articles.â€
2.Â Â Â Â Â Google Authorship Integration
Google Authorship is Googleâ€™s way of verifying authors of content, curating that content, and establishing a sense for how much expertise (and authority) should be awarded to any individual author. Author rank is a concept that steps from this; the thought that authors with Google Authorship integrated gain credibility or â€œrankâ€ based on their publishing history. Itâ€™s currently unknown whether author rank currently exists, but itâ€™s a safe bet that Google will eventually implement it as a ranking factor, if it hasnâ€™t already.
Other benefits of Google Authorship integration are enticing as well. Perhaps the next biggest benefit is Authorship Markup, which results in the authorâ€™s Google+ profile image being displayed next to the search result, within the search results page. Studies have shown that this helps draw the eye, attracting more clicks.
Hereâ€™s what that looks like:
3.Â Â Â Â Â Optimized URLs
Weâ€™re still seeing preference given to static, keyword-rich URLs, and I donâ€™t see this changing anytime soon.
Best practices for URLs include:
- Under 100 characters in length
- Words separated by hyphens or dashes
- URLs should include no more than 3 subdirectories
- If youâ€™re looking to rank for location-based keywords, be sure to include those in your URLs
- E-commerce sites should append tracking or product numbers at the end of the url (and should certainly not use numbers as a replacement for keywords)
4.Â Â Â Â Â Title Tags
The title tag has consistently been one of the most critical ranking factors, and remains so for 2014. Your title tag is likely going to the be clickable text that appears in search results, making its optimization important for reasons far beyond SEO; itâ€™s one thing to rank highly in search results, but if your title tag isnâ€™t enticing, it wonâ€™t get clicked.
When choosing your title tag, try to include your keyword naturally and strategically. Itâ€™s usually a best practice to use your company name as part of your homepageâ€™s title tag. For internal pages, include it at the end of your title tag rather than at the beginning; this helps with branding.
Your title tag should ideally be less than 65 characters, and again, if youâ€™re targeting local keywords, be sure to use these here as well.