SEO in 2014: What’s the Prognosis?

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Posted by Erin Schroeder, Copywriter & Online Specialist

Whenever Google rolls out a new update to the masses (think Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, etc.), it seems the future of search engine optimization is suddenly in question.

“How will this affect my site ranking?” is often the first reaction, but “Is SEO still effective?” has also claimed a spot among the most frequently asked questions.

Here’s the reality: SEO is very much alive today; it’s just always changing.

Why all the updates? When the optimization concept originally took shape over 15 years ago, there was the camp that immediately adopted the experts’ recommended best practices in an effort to achieve higher organic ranks. There was another that saw SEO as a shortcut of sorts, or a way to “trick the system” and catapult their sites to the top of all search results.

Because of this latter approach, many ill-advised tactics (including keyword stuffing, content duplication and hidden text) started surfacing, so Google – and the other major search engines – had to work smarter.

Google aimed to stay one step ahead of the scheming by revising its top-secret algorithms and penalizing sites that used sneaky “black-hat” techniques. That was the driving force behind many of the updates. All along though, Google was clear. It said that when new algorithm updates were launched, top ranks were ultimately earned by sites with high-quality content considered relevant to the visitor.

As marketers, we have to keep this in mind and work smarter, too.

While many Google updates have typically focused on certain aspects to discourage spam-like content from out-ranking legitimate content, the newest ones are reaching even further with the intent of delivering the best search results and user experience possible.

That doesn’t mean we should focus all of our energy solely on the latest piece of the SEO puzzle, like the current shift toward more natural searches or encrypted keyword data. It’s quite the opposite, actually. SEO as a whole remains essential to site findability and rank positions as we move into 2014.

Continued success will come from implementing a multi-faceted, integrated approach that considers the larger picture and builds off of something both engines and humans have been after since the very beginning: really good content.

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