Search resolutions for 2014

There’s a lot going on in the world of search, and while there haven’t been a huge amount of algorithm updates this year, each and every change has made its presence known in some way or another.

But it’s the end of 2013 now, and there’s no point dwelling on the past (too much), so I thought I’d look to the future with some search resolutions we should  for 2014.

1. Out with the old, in with the new

2013 has seen Google SERPs suffering an identity crisis. What users are seeing when they search changes more times than Miley Cyrus’ public image – ten links are now 7 and thanks to YouTube videos, Local Listings, the Knowledge Graph, Google Images and Google+, I’m either being kept from, or have difficulty finding, what I actually want when I search.

There is now little space to rank and the Google Webspam Team is clamping down on previously tried and true tactics. We’ve been keeping an eye on all changes and adapting our approach to suit, but know that it is difficult to keep up with what should be being done to get your site seen on Google.

So my first resolution (read: friendly advice) is to ditch the old tactics, the hours cold calling bloggers for links and the endless crawls for Twitter mentions because it’s just not productive and doesn’t get the results. The space at the top is small – only the best of the best will land those top spots. Let 2014 be the year you ditch the old tactics that should have been put out to pasture a long time ago.

2. Get into shape

As mentioned above, the space for a site to appear naturally in the Google SERPs is limited at best. Google is now only choosing the best and most relevant sites for search results.

So for 2014 get your site into the best possible shape it can be in. This calls for some tough decisions to be made. Site reviews are highly recommended, and these need to stretch beyond the usual investigations such as “does our content need a refresh?”

A backlink audit wouldn’t go amiss; link networks are high on the Google Webspam team’s hit list, you can expect more will be ‘shut down’ in the coming weeks, so I’d suggest gettin’ out while the gettin’s good!

Matt Cutts tweet

After ditching the old links, think about giving your site a well-deserved tune up. First point of action is to go mobile. If you’ve gone mobile already, great! But is it a responsive design? You’d be surprised at how much stuff you can change on the backend of your site, and how much of it will actually make a difference for your visitors and visibility.

3. Spend more time talking to the people I care about

A good part of this year for SEO experts was spent arguing over the impacts of social on searches. Whilst the jury is still out on Facebook and Twitter for Google, Google+ has really made its presence known. I’m seeing people in my circles turn up in random searches all the time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2014 I see more people trying to game the burgeoning social engagement platform by connecting with more people and organisations.

So let’s all go social, and move beyond just the big two. Even if Google+ doesn’t have the engagement despite it’s huge user base, there’s still a lot to gain from experimenting with the service.

So these are my three key resolutions and top tips for search in 2014, simple but effective. Happy New Year!