One of the challenge of SEO is that the game is always changing. Search engine change their algorithms and marketers have time to review the data from their previous strategies to make adjustments. 2013 saw some significant changes to search algorithms and to what is considered best practices for SEO. Here are four SEO practices that business owners should implement in 2014.
Avoid Duplicate Content Penalties
According to Google’s Matt Cutts, 25-30 percent of the content on the web is duplicate. This is bad because Google tries to eliminate duplicate entries from their search engine results. Search engines try to determine which piece of content is the most used and original, but the system isn’t perfect. Since one out of four pages online may not show up on search engine results because of branded duplicate content, this is something that marketers should consider when planning an SEO strategy.
Knowing this about duplicate content, marketers should eschew using press releases verbatim. Find ways to add to the content and make it stand apart from the original release. A post that copies a press release is duplicate content; but a post that talks about a press release is original. Similarly, retailers who are required to use a product description given by a manufacturer, can make their page for the product more original by including customer reviews, links to relevant content, additional pictures, and more.
Fix Canonicalization Issues with Links
Many businesses have multiple links that lead to the same content. This may be done for a lot legitimate reasons (links may be ad specific, a/b testing, etc.), but it creates what is known as a canonical issue, because search engines treat each of these links separately. So if there are four links that equally refer traffic to a particular piece of content, even if the page is viewed by 100,000 people, search engines will see it as four links with 25,000 hits each. This means the page would rank lower than it should in search engine results.
This is more common than people realize. The default settings for many web servers create this problem by default. For example, a website can be accessed by using: http://www.example.com/; http://www.example.com/index.html; http:/example.com/; or http://example.com/index.html. These four links would lead to the same content (the homepage), but each would treated as separate by search engines.
Canonicalization issues can be resolved using a 301 redirect. Instead of going directly to the homepage, the redirect tells the browser to go to a particular link for the homepage. It has little or no effect on user experience but means a lot for search engine. According to Moz, “301 redirects pass between 90 percent and 99 percent of their value, whereas 302 redirects pass almost no value at all”.
Trim Excess Code
The amount code used in a site has an impact on SEO and user experience. For SEO purposes, search engines index sites using their code view and they are designed to only spend so much time on each page before moving on to the next. So if a website’s code has a lot of unnecessary fluff, there is a chance the relevant portions won’t be indexed at Excess code can slow down a site enough that people leave it search somewhere else. A high bounce rate negatively impacts SEO, so it’s better to ensure that code it up to snuff. Even if the site looks nice, if it takes too long to load, it may have a more negative than positive impact on SEO and user experience. This is significant problem for people who built their site with WYSIWYG tools that offer easy design and the expense of proper coding.
There are several benefits to having a Google+ profile for SEO. Content authors who are also on Google+ have their profile information show up so people can follow them or join their circles. The content produced by Google+ users will show up higher in the results of people who follow them. Google+ also displays the content from Google+ posts, Hangouts, etc. in their search results. As was noted earlier on this blog, the time has come for business owners and marketers to embrace Google+. Even if the platform doesn’t yet have the same significance as Facebook or Twitter, the platform is growing and there are plenty of benefits for content marketing business owners can enjoy in the meantime.
Small changes to a businesses SEO strategy can have a large effect on their traffic and revenue. Using the best practices will make it far more likely that a business’s target audience will be able to find their content. 2014 will give marketers many new ways to promote their business online. Be sure to keep up with latest news and research to ensure that an organization’s internet marketing strategy is operating as efficiently as possible.