Out with the old and in with the new. Another successful year under our belts as some marketers may call it. During this past 12 months we’ve seen lots of different shifts in the SEO landscape. From Pandas to Penguins and everything in between. According to MozCast, the last heat index to strike was back on 12/17. Nothing to get bent out of shape for, just yet anyway. Typically, towards the end of each year and into the next SEOs begin to scramble in preparation for the upcoming curve. For those seasoned masters, you’ll agree when I state that such fluctuations are definitely hard to acclimate to. Particularly when it comes to Google’s constant shift in temperature. Like a storm it comes and leaves as it pleases.

In 2013, SEOs came to the realization that social media particularly is something that should not be ignored any longer. If you were perhaps ignoring it, well you’ve been living under the rock while others have been picking up your slack. As a digital marketer and more so an SEO really, I’m constantly plugged into the stratosphere to ensure that there’s a constant upkeep on industry trends and patterns. This past year solidified the importance of social media particularly when it comes to the search world.

So, what’s a digital marketer to do in 2014? How do you stay competitive? What areas should you focus on with your brand?

SEO Keywords

The days of keyword pushing, stuffing, or whatever else you want to call it are definitely over. Particularly since the Google freshness update back in November 2013. One that affects nearly 35% of searches. These days search engines zero in more on context and quality of overall composition. Keywords still play an integral part within on-page content optimization but not as heavily focused upon keyword inclusion. Moving forward, SEOs should focus on the overall context of content composed rather than attempting to manipulate the system.

Mobile Presence

As we’re slowly kicking off 2014, one of the most rapidly evolving segments of marketing to focus on entails in a solid mobile presence. According to the latest round of statistics, nearly 50% of website

Social Media in the SEO World

It’s not going anywhere! If you’ve not picked up your copy of Gary Vaynerchuck’sJab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World yet, I highly recommend it. It will change the way you do business completely. So, what’s an SEO to do with social media? Get on the bandwagon if you’ve not done so yet! I strongly urge you do so. But, “What social media networks are advantageous? Why should I use them?” you ask?! If you don’t have a Google+ account then get one, NOW! Why? When you search on Google particularly for a brand specifically, the first thing you’ll notice in the SERP is all social media entities associated with that brand starting with Google+ at the top. You think that Google fancies its own social network for the kick of it? Nope, its intent is to boost search visibility. Following Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the two most important ones every SEO marketer should consider for their clients. In terms of business potential – Google+, LinkedIn, and Twitter should be the three networks to fully leverage (and in that order).

Content Marketing – Develop a Strategy

These days it takes far more to entice a consumer on the web. It requires establishment of thought leadership from a brand perspective, value recognition, authority, subject matter expertise, relationship building. And these are only a few of the traits for an SEO to consider when it comes to content marketing.

Why is content marketing imperative for SEO?

Great question! Search engines exist to provide value to its users. Like a library that we used to all utilize back in the day to check out a book for research or whatnot. Same, in today’s digital world, search engines provide valuable information to its visitors. The #1 thing search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo are concerned with is the ultimate satisfaction of its users. How do they accomplish this? The billions of indexed pages in its index are considered valuable information. However, not all are of high quality. Hence the various algorithmic changes each search engine undergoes that focuses solely on the improvement of search results. The higher the relevance of a SERP, the higher the user engagement and essentially usability of that particular search engine. It’s no coincidence that Google dominates 70% of the search market.

So, to get to the punch line here without losing anyone. High quality content matters as it helps establish a value proposition for users. More so though, it provides search engine users with a reason to engage with a brand. SEO marketers need to give content marketing a significant thought in 2014. Particularly if seeking to provide a solid service to their clients.

Google Authorship Importance

For some this might still be considered a fairly new tactic used for SEO enhancement while others have implemented Google Authorship long ago. From an SEO perspective, Google Authorship serves of critical importance for every brand. Whether you’re an individual or a brand, it’s something that you should strongly consider for implementation within a site.

What is Google Authorship? Why do I need it?

In a nutshell, Google Authorship is a solution that the search engine giant came up with to help establish connectivity of content in the SERPs to individual Google+ profiles or brand pages. A way to convey trust to search engine users  thru all the clutter still remaining in the SERPs. If you’re unfamiliar with it, check out the Google Authorship installation guide for more details on implementation within your site.

Behavioral Understanding of Target Audience

Understanding the need of a target audience stands at the core of marketing basics. It’s no surprise that Google Analytics has also evolved tremendously over the years providing marketers with even more data to analyze. When it comes to behavioral understanding of visitors, an SEO marketer should be spending a good amount of time analyzing trends and patterns in occurrence of a website. Metrics such as Bounce Rate, Avg. Time on Site, Unique Visitors, Geo, Conversion Rate are some of the most commonly leveraged metrics an SEO should possess a solid understanding of. Additionally, Goal Funnels should be setup on a website to measure effectiveness of user engagement while simultaneously measuring causal behavior of a user. Those SEOs spending time on user behavior assessment will have a leg up on the competition given the intuitive understanding of their target audience.

The SEO landscape has changed drastically. While it’s definitely not going anywhere, anytime soon anyway, digital marketers must adheres to the new pre-requisites set by search engines.