These days, many webmasters are finding it difficult to figure out whatâ€™s still important for SEO and whatâ€™s no longer relevant. In an effort to clarify important trends in the SEO industry, I published â€œThe Top 7 SEO Trends Dominating 2014.â€
Now, Iâ€™d like to explore the best practices associated with these trends. In this article, Iâ€™ll cover:
- Keyword research
- On-page SEO
- Mobile SEO
- Google Authorship
- Link building Content StrategyÂ
Although much has changed over the past year when it comes to SEO, the principles of keyword research have remained relatively stable. So, which keyword tools and resources are still current and relevant in 2014?
Following are some of the best keyword research tools available in 2014. Keep in mind that while not all of them are free, all offer a limited-time free trial so you can at least test them out before buying.
- Google Keyword Planner â€“ For basic keyword research, nothing beats the Keyword Planner. Use this tool to find keyword suggestions, search volume and level of competition.
- Ubersuggest â€“ Plug in your topic or keyword, and this tool will give you access to reams of related keywords and phrases you can target.
- Wordtracker Keyword Tool â€“ Generates keyword suggestions, measures competition, and even helps you with writing optimized content.
- Moz Keyword Difficulty and SERP Analysis Tool â€“ Perhaps the ultimate tool for analyzing how competitive your keywords are. Requires an annual subscription, but for serious internet marketers, itâ€™s worth every penny.
- SEMRush â€“ This tool has the advantage of allowing you to see exactly what keywords your competitors are targeting, both in terms of organic and PPC traffic.
Personally, I prefer to start with Googleâ€™s Keyword Planner and perform manual research, then refine and augment it using other tools. A helpful resource is â€œThe Definitive Guide to Using Googleâ€™s Keyword Planner for Keyword Research.â€
Here are a few more helpful resources for conducting keyword research:
- The Rise of the Long-tail Keyword for SEO
- How to Identify Long-Tail Keywords for Your SEO Campaign
- Why Your Keyword Strategy is Incomplete Without User Intent
On-page SEO elements, fortunately, havenâ€™t changed much over the past year or two. Your goal should still be to produce high-quality, unique content that meets the needs and expectations of your audience.
To ensure that both your readers and Google know what your content is about, be sure to include your keywords in your:
- Title tag
- Heading tags
- Alt image tags (where relevant)
- Content â€“ Generally at least 3-4 times within your content.
Other important on-page SEO factors include:
- Focusing on long form, more â€˜meatyâ€™ content in the 1000-2000+ word range.
- Targeting topics rather than keywords â€“ Crafting your page around a particular topic or theme rather than on 1 or 2 keywords.
- Updating your blog frequently, without sacrificing the quality of your content (see â€œWhy an Active Blog is Necessary for a Successful SEO Initiative.â€)
For more info on how to implement on-page SEO best practices, see my article, â€œThe 9 On-Page SEO Elements You Need In 2014.â€
If you havenâ€™t already optimized your website for mobile, this should be your #1 priority this year when it comes to SEO. As Google seeks to keep up with the rise in voice search due to high mobile usage, your website and your content must be optimized with this in mind.
Some elements to consider include:
- Ensuring you have a responsive or dedicated mobile site.
- Ensuring all elements of your site are mobile-friendly.
- Tailoring your content to readers who are â€˜on the goâ€™: meaning an emphasis on readily available, actionable information.
- Factoring in the rise in voice search queries: for instance, hands-free users are more likely to query â€œWhere is the nearest gas stationâ€ rather than â€œgas station San Franciscoâ€.
- Making use of a â€˜click to callâ€™ feature.
- Keeping in mind the differences in user intent between mobile and desktop users.
- Making sure your mobile content loads quickly. Google would like to see mobile pages loading in around 1 second.
Setting up Google Authorship isnâ€™t difficult, and should no longer be considered optional. By linking your Google+ profile with all the content you produce, you claim â€˜ownershipâ€™ of all your content, thereby increasing your Author Rank, which is a theoretical value determined by the quality and quantity of the content you produce, as well as which publishers publish your content.
In a Google Webmaster video published on May 5th, Matt Cutts addressed the question â€œWill backlinks lose their importance in ranking?â€ The short answer is â€œnot for at least several years,â€ but Cutts did hint that Google Authorship will play a larger role in the ranking algorithm in years to come. â€œIf we could be able to tell, Danny Sullivan wrote this article, or Vanessa Fox wrote this article, that would help us understand, this is something where itâ€™s an expert in this particular field.â€ The way Google can tell that is via Google Authorship.
Authorship is also useful for increasing click-through rates when your content shows up in search engine results pages, because your name and headshot appear next to your content, as shown in the screenshot below. This builds your personal brand, and extends the reach of your content.
For more on how to implement Google Authorship, see my post The Complete Guide to Google Authorship.
Link Building Content Strategy