SEO is a moving target that can really affect your business. This means that as a startup founder, you need to be prepared to make your strategy work no matter what Google enforces.
We asked 12 entrepreneurs what trends they have noticed in the past year and how they have prepared their business. Here's what they have noticed:
12 Changes That Will Affect Your SEO Strategy
- Increasing Attention to the User
- Optimizing for Mobile Traffic
- Emphasizing the Importance of Social
- Indentifying Negative SEO
- Focusing on Storytelling
- Introducing More Penalties
- Looking for a Google+ Page
- Aggressively Targeting Blog Networks
- Optimizing for User Experience
- Becoming More Predictable
- Using Location as a Source
- Optimizing for Entity Search
1) Increasing Attention to the User
In the past, SEO was all about manipulating data and keywords to gain search engine rankings. However with the leak of Google's Quality Rating Guide back in August, it has become crystal clear that modern SEO is all about adding quality rather than quantity. We shifted our entire content marketing strategy to be about the user, creating engaging content that compels our audience to take action.
2) Optimizing for Mobile Traffic
Google recently started including a 'mobile-friendly' notion next to website for mobile search results. Making sure you have this next your site increases the CTR for your website and the over amount of traffic. I suggest you test your site with this Google tool.
3) Emphasizing the Importance of Social
Whether it's social sharing from your site or traffic coming from social media, the importance of social engagements is really affecting SEO. It's part of SEO's way of measuring interactions with your pages and content, which are proving to be more and more important. If no one is interacting, it reflects poorly on your page quality and hurts your chances of ranking.
4) Identifying Negative SEO
With penalty algorithms, negative SEO can now impact businesses that are not carefully watching their backlinks and other metrics. There have even been studies of sites hit by negative SEOs that sent bogus traffic and negatively impacted bounce rate and CTR from Google SERPs. Watch your link profile, analytics, and be on the lookout for misuse.
– Marcela DeVivo, Gryffin Media
5) Focusing on Storytelling
Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past. Now, artful storytelling is the only way publishers will get visibility in the SERPs. Our business focuses on helping brands create compelling content with YouTube creators, so updates to the Google algorithm have been immensely helpful in improving our value proposition to clients and the long-term value brands get from their Grapevine campaigns.
6) Introducing More Penalties
Our daily tests from 5,000+ sites prove that you will get penalized for both on-site and off-site issues that you may not be aware of. Look closely at the quality of pages you're indexing in Google, eradicate duplicate content, improve your user experience, and ensure you're monitoring your incoming links, disavowing those that are working against your assets. It matters more now than ever before.
– Alex Miller, PosiRank LLC
7) Looking for a Google+ Page
If you are a local business, having a website isn't enough to rank well in Google's local search listings. If you want to rank well you need to unlock, verify, and optimize a Google+ Business Page (referred to more recently as a Google My Business Page). If you want to maximize your search traffic from Google, treat your Google Business Page as you would your website, and optimize accordingly.
8) Aggressively Targeting Blog Networks
At the beginning of 2014, Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google, announced that the idea of "guest post networks," which had been effective in the past, were on their way out. In the middle of 2014, Google took action against several large networks, including MyBlogGuest, and penalized many high-ranking sites that had participated in linking schemes. Guest bloggers need to rethink their strategy.
9) Optimizing for User Experience
Where do take your SEO strategy when you've got links, titles, and content covered? Recently we've revamped our site to offer a better user experience. Within three months of rolling out the changes, time on site is up 30% and our bounce rate is down 9%, all while our search traffic is up almost 110%. Google is looking for quality indicators. Make sure your user experience isn't sending the wrong ones.
10) Becoming More Predictable
SEO is now easier than it has ever been thanks to big data. The key to successful SEO is having a strategy in place that records your previous efforts, compares those efforts to your current results, and then predicts which activities will provide the most value in the future. SEO was an art before big data. Now it is a science.
11) Using Location as a Source
Since we are a global identity verification company, it's important to understand how changes in Pigeon's algorithm would affect the visibility of our website in local listings.
12) Optimizing for Entity Search
We're always looking for opportunities to increase our footprint in Google's search results. With more search queries 'answered' directly in Google's search results, we only need to spend a few hours of development to be eligible for inclusion. As semantic markup expands to identify more entities, our business will be relevant for more complex and user-specific queries.
These answers were provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.