Search engine optimization is a phrase that most small business owners and franchisors have heard of, but it’s a phrase that very few actually understand. The general principle of the term is well known: search engine optimization represents a series of tasks or goals that will lead to higher search engine rankings for relevant keywords. Basically, that means an internet marketing business that employs good SEO will appear at the top of the Google page when a consumer searches for “internet marketing.”
Ranking higher on search engine pages is the most valuable marketing goal for any business. Increased search engine credentials produce higher website traffic, which in turn increases brand exposure, brand recognition, business authority, and customer loyalty. The problem with SEO, though, is that it is constantly changing and adapting. New technology, like mobile web devices, leads to new demands on businesses. Search engine algorithms have loopholes that allow for “black hat” SEO practices, or underhanded ways of ranking well without providing value to the consumer. Search engine bigwigs, like Google, are constantly adapting to close these loopholes and ensure that the highest ranking web pages are the pages that provide the most consumer value, the most authoritative information, and the highest likelihood of fulfilling customer needs.
So, what are the biggest changes that are going to affect franchise search engine optimization service strategies in 2014? Here’s what to expect:
1. Further Emphasis on Content Quality
Content has been the crown leader of the internet world for several years now, but marketers and business owners can expect search engines to value content even more in the coming years. The content of a website is made up of the articles, blog posts, landing pages, videos, photos, infographics, and other informative or communicative materials presented to the customer. Businesses in 2014 cannot hope to rise to the top of the search engine heap unless they focus on producing superior content.
2. Recognition of Regularly Updated Websites
Similarly, SEO strategies in 2014 will likely focus on creating a constant flow of valuable content, as websites like Google recognize that a continually updated website is a website with life and vigor. Stale websites that have featured the same keyword-rich content for months are going to start slipping on search engine results pages. Consumers have a voracious appetite for new content, and successful businesses will provide the sustenance that the market is craving.
3. Priority Given to Authoritative Sites
Site authority will also start factoring in more heavily with search engine marketing, or SEM, strategies. In the past, many brands tried to build authority by “purchasing” back links from link dump sites. Essentially, these websites agreed to post hyperlinks to any site on the web for a small fee. Google, and other search engines, have since abolished this practice, but business owners can expect to see a greater crackdown on less-than-honest authority-building tactics. The best way to capitalize on this search engine optimization trend is to create content that is reputable, factual, and informational. If a consumer reads web content and is impressed by the business’s authoritative tone and fact-filled articles, boosted search engine rankings will naturally follow. Investing in a search engine optimization service, like the variety of services offered by ClickTecs, can help businesses embrace an organic approach to authority building.
4. Diversification of Social Media Marketing
Be prepared to see an increased emphasis on social media marketing in general, as well as search engine ranking benefits for businesses and brands that maintain several different social media presences. Effectively managing multiple social networks increases customer exposure and helps with varied content creation, but it’s also incredibly time-consuming. Hiring a search engine optimization service will be a beneficial strategy in 2014.
5. Close Scrutiny of Mobile Performance
Mobile devices will soon outnumber desktop computers, and search engines are paying attention to this trend. Optimizing sites with responsible web design that adjusts to different screen widths, as well as content that is created specifically for mobile browsing, will be a big help in the SEO world.
6. Longer Content on the Web, Shorter Content On the Go
The issue of content quality is hotly debated in search engine optimization circles. Some marketers say brevity is the key to captivating consumer attention. Others argue that short content is ineffective at communicating valuable information. In 2014, marketers will likely create longer content nearing 2,000 words for the web and shorter, more pointed content for mobile devices. Articles and blog posts shorter than 500 words are likely to fade out completely.
7. Restricted Keyword Search Changes the Game
Google threw a huge wrench in the system when it started restricting keyword search data to the general public. Analyzing keyword search patterns and discovering untapped SEO potential for specific keyword phrases has become much more difficult. Many think Google implemented this strategy to discourage businesses from focusing on keywords and encourage them to focus on organic, big picture content strategies. Some believe Google will create a paid service later this year that provides access to keyword trends. In the meantime, creating PPC campaigns via Google will provide access to search information for those who can’t survive without it.
8. Guest Blog Penalties Start to Roll Out
Guest blogging is going to undergo significant changes in 2014. In the past, business owners or franchisors often produced recycled content and submitted it to low quality blog farms for posting. This practice may have given the franchisor another platform on which to direct consumers to a website home page, but it consistently failed to recognize the true purpose of guest blogging. Guest blogging should be an acknowledgement of authority and value. A blogger with a successful blog should invite professionals or experts to sound off on various topical issues in order to increase the quality of his or her blog. Businesses that start submitting guest blog posts with rehashed content to low-quality content farms will be penalized in 2014.
9. Using the Disavow Function to Banish Bad Links
The disavow function, implemented recently by Google, is crucial to a successful 2014 SEO strategy. Businesses can see all the links that are directing consumers to a business website. Any links that are coming from disreputable sites, like link farms, can be disavowed. This prevents the bad links from negatively affecting search rankings.
10. Faster, More Regular Change
Perhaps one of the biggest changes to the search engine optimization scene in 2014 is this simple fact: expect changes to SEO and popular search engine algorithms to start coming more frequently. Google is the biggest search engine name out there, and Google executives have given fair warning that 2014 is going to be a year of continual adjustment, evaluation, tweaking, and perfecting with regards to SEO. The tech industry is accelerating at a lightning pace, and many small business owners and franchise owners are struggling to keep up with the changes.
That’s why it will be more important than ever for franchise owners to invest in a high quality search engine optimization service like ClickTecs. A strategy that works well for building brand authority and boosting page rankings with a search engine mogul like Google may become obsolete in a matter of months. Consider the changes to guest blogging, for example. Thousands of brands and businesses are going to see their rankings penalized heavily unless they adjust their guest blogging strategy to meet new criteria and increased quality demands.
A professional and experienced search engine marketing team can help franchisors and franchisees evaluate the needs of their business ventures, perform extensive market research, and develop an SEO plan that will continue to increase web traffic and customer conversions.
About the Author : Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi
A serial entrepreneur with extensive background in franchising and interests in multiple online business channels, Jamshaid (Jam) Hashmi has played an instrumental role in the franchise development and success of a renowned international franchise company. His most recent entrepreneurial interests include launching ClickTecs, a Digital Marketing company specializing in Search Engine Marketing and Social Media Marketing as well as Website and Mobile Application development. In 2007 he co-founded WSI Search Result, an online marketing company that supplies services to Internet Marketing Consultants. A sought after public speaker, Jam has been the featured keynote at many franchise conferences and international summits. He regularly trains ‘C’ Level Executives and supports both new and seasoned business owners on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Social Media Optimization, Mobile Marketing, Brand Reputation Management and Conversion & Measurement through web analytics. When he’s not scaling the heights of the Internet world, Jam ‘unwinds’ on extreme thrill-seeking adventures from the jungles of the Amazon to the highest summits. His passions include working with NGOs on humanitarian missions to areas around the world affected by disasters and poverty.Back