2014 is going to be quite a year for search engine optimization and small businesses trying to get more traffic from Google. Google made a lot of changes in 2013 and 2012. We don’t expect things to slow down in 2014. In fact, one of the biggest changes to Google’s algorithm took place in 2013 called the hummingbird.
This algorithm change laid a foundation for faster and more powerful changes to how Google will rank search engine results in the future. You must pay attention to these changes. Otherwise, you might get caught by surprise. A lot of people get caught by surprise when Google cracks down bad linking practices or obvious link spam. We only see things becoming more difficult in 2014. The old tricks are simply not going to cut it.
Here are some trends that are quite obvious at the start of 2014. Pay attention to these trends and incorporate them into your SEO strategy for 2014.
Lower Value from Press Release Links
One of the easiest ways to get backlinks in years past was to simply create a press release, make many different versions of it and submit that press release to as many different press release websites as you can find. The SEO benefit of such press release was due to the fact that you can put anchor text in some places on the press release. These anchor text are registered by Google. These are counted by Google.
Many spammers would submit hundreds of press releases so each press release can count as a backlink to their site. Google has publicly said that this practice is disapproved by Google. Expect penalties for people trying to get backlinks using free press release sites. You have to use press release the way they are intended to be used. Press release sites are intended to be the distribution point of real news.
If you don’t want to be penalized, you have to do two things. First, issue press releases that actually have news. These are press releases that actually have news. These are press releases that actually announce something that is newsworthy. Second, make sure that your press release links have no follow. In other words, Google will not follow the link back to your website.
Lower Value from Article Directory Links and Guest Posts
In the beginning of 2014, Google has already penalized guest posts exchange platforms. These are websites that help people get SEO advantages through links on guest posts. These websites put together bloggers that will publish such guest posts and link-builders that want to write content with those backlinks. Google has penalized at least one major platform for this type of SEO guest posts and we don’t expect Google to stop anytime soon.
In the same vein, Google’s representatives are on the record saying that links from article directory websites are low value. We read this as indicating that Google might penalize people who build backlinks by submitting hundreds of articles to hundreds of different websites. The days of getting cheap and easy backlinks from articles is over.
The Value of Authority-And Relationship-Driven Content Contributions
Guest posts for purely SEO purposes are pretty much dead. The handwriting is on the wall. Google has been issuing warning after warning and it has penalized one of the biggest platforms for SEO guest posts. We expect that SEO driven guest posts will basically die. The days of simply writing a low quality content and putting a backlink on it and having some blog published it are basically over. What will be very important in 2014 and beyond are relationship and authority driven content contributions.
A lot of critics would say that this is just a fancy way of saying guest posts. Sure, at some level you could look at these as guest posts, but they are much deeper than that. What makes these content contributions different from typical spam guest posts is that these pieces of content are actually written by experts. These pieces of content actually build authority.
Finally, you can only contribute this type of content if you have established a relationship with an authority figure in your niche. We will see this high level content contribution and content distribution networks expanding in the future. They will expand without drawing it from Google because they are driven by authority and quality.
This is the future of SEO: Trustworthy content and relationship driven link building.