The Most Critical SEO Elements for 2014

These days, many webmasters are finding it difficult to figure out what’s still relevant for SEO and what’s no longer important. Two of the main components of a strong SEO strategy remain the same: 1) to publish high-quality content that gets read and 2) get linked to by as many people as possible. Translation: Quality content and inbound links.


But this year, a third key element joined the ranks of these two components and that’s social media! Social media wasn’t around when SEO first developed into an industry; it only became a factor in the ranking algorithm in recent years. Today social media is a means to increase shareability, distribution and reach of content and this, in turn, provides readers and search engines alike with new data to assess quality.

So the 3 key elements to building a strong SEO campaign in 2014, irrespective of industry include:

1. Content strategy

2. Inbound links

3. Social media

Is Content Really King?

“Content marketing” is beginning to replace the term “SEO”. It’s no longer enough to simply have an SEO strategy. In the wake of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, many of the once-popular SEO tactics that used to work no longer do.

“Content is king” is a mantra that is probably repeated more often than any other in the world of SEO. As such, business owners should continue to focus on creating high-quality content guided by solid keyword research. A solid content marketing strategy not only aims to build your business exposure and visibility for many keywords, it also aims to build brand awareness, authority and credibility as well as social media awareness and conversion rates.

Are Links Still the Primary Ranking Factor?

With Google stepping up its efforts to penalize link networks and those who buy and sell links, how important are backlinks to Google’s search algorithm? Have backlinks lost their importance for ranking purposes?

In his Webmaster help video published on May 5, 2014, Matt Cutts shared:

“I think backlinks still have many, many years left in them”

Cutts said links help Google figure out the reputation of a site or pages. But Google also wants to give more weight to pages written by experts. So this means that authority will become even more crucial for websites and in the coming months and years, website owners are going to see an even greater emphasis in the value of authorship.

Do Social Signals Influence Rankings?

Social media gives businesses an additional platform to interact with customers, build their brand and create a community. Social media marketing has a different meaning for different businesses and across the different industries. It predominantly depends on a business’s target market and what they are interested in.

This explains why as part of your social media strategy, you need to find out where your target audience is hanging out online. These channels are the ones you need to concentrate your efforts on.

Similarly, optimizing your social media accounts has thus far not always been a goal of SEO but should be in 2014. You see, SEO campaigns are designed to attract new customers and increase your business reach and impact. Social media in turn focuses on maintaining customers and strengthening relationships with them through strategic engagement.

About Google Authorship

Setting up Google Authorship should no longer be considered optional. By linking your Google+ profile with all the content you produce, you claim ‘ownership’ of all your content. This increases your Author Rank, which is a theoretical value determined by the quality and quantity of the content you produce.

Google introduced Google Authorship a few years ago with the goal of allowing writers to claim their content, as well as allowing search engine users to find more content written by the same writer. Google Authorship continues to grow in popularity as business owners realize the importance of Google Authorship and are taking Author Rank more seriously.

Is Guest Blogging Still Relevant?

Guest blogging was probably the biggest buzzword in the SEO world throughout 2013. SEOs and online marketers alike preached the value of this tactic for building links and brand authority.

On January 20, 2014, on his blog, Matt Cutts wrote:

“Okay, I’m calling it: if you’re using guest blogging as a way to gain links in 2014, you should probably stop. “

So there’s been a fall and decay when it comes to guest blogging as an SEO tactic! It’s no longer a respectable thing. Sure, there are reasonable and valid reasons to consider guest posts (exposure, branding, community). But spammy and low-quality guest blogging is a thing of the past.

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