Search Engine Optimization or "SEO" as it's commonly known in the business, seems to change with the wind.
At one time, all you needed for proper SEO was a few strong keywords and title tags and the search engines would find you and position you somewhere near the top of the results page. Then, keywords were down played and you needed backlinks (incoming links to a website).
Now, search engines are paying attention to videos and graphics.
Do these SEO changes ever stop? Are they changing at the whim of Google and some other powerful search engine players? The answers are "no" and "yes". SEO is a fluid industry. Search engine companies never stop adapting to trends in internet searches and they sometimes seem to be at a whim. We don't know as none of them are talking.
So, what is a small business to do to create a strong, monthly SEO strategy? Follow the trends for each year and then adapt to changes.
For 2014, there are 5 Search Engine Trends that will help you and your company stay atop the results page:
Content Marketing is the new SEO: This one is no secret. You must write high-quality copy, including keywords and keyword phrases, to impress the search engines. Well-written marketing copy that describes the product or service. But there is much more to that: brand awareness, social media management, credibility and conversion rates all are crucial components in your content marketing. All will complement your website and add to the ability of visitors to find you and interact or even purchase.
Creating a solid social media strategy for your brand: Search engines are relying more and more on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr and Linkedin as credibility sources for brands. Your small business social media pages will send visitors to your website even if your website is not in the first two pages of the results. Keywords, video, photos and links posted on your social media pages increase your optimization and build your brand.
Guest blogging increases in importance: In spite of what you may have heard, blogging is not dead. If you write business blogs that have strong content, you will increase your SEO potential. Just make sure your blogs aren't 600-word advertisements. Search engines will reward your company, though, if it is written well, includes graphics, images or video and is fresh material. Add a blog page to your website and educate and entertain your visitors.
SEO is getting expensive: As many large and small companies are finding, SEO specialization is getting to be a high-dollar item. Companies need someone who knows inbound linking, keyword strategy, captions for images and videos and many other aspects of the SEO world. These specialists don't come cheap. More than ever, companies realize that their staff don't have the time or desire to learn it so they are hiring SEO types but are willing to pay the price if the return on investment is more sales.
Google Authorship is still quite important: Even though Google is eliminating the profile photos in search results, Google Authorship/Author Rank does help in SEO. Authors of blogs and other articles of high-quality content are seeing their work climb in the search engine results. If the author has a good reputation and consistently writes good content, they will be respected and found in the search engine results.
The bottom line: write quality content and be active in social media. You still have six months to go and it's not too late to improve your SEO with these steps and increase sales.