5 SEO trends that have emerged in 2014

Gabriel Shaoolian is CEO of Blue Fountain Media, a NYC-based digital agency

It’s critical that every business with an online presence keep up with the latest SEO best practices. Search-engine optimization tactics change over time — some would say every time a Google exec sneezes. So with calendar year 2014 about halfway over, it’s a perfect opportunity to review how SEO has changed this year and to evaluate whether your business is staying current. Some aspects of SEO have changed dramatically, while other guiding principles have remained tried and true.

With that in mind, here is a list of five new SEO trends for 2014 that will help ensure your SEO efforts are top notch:

Go mobile first
Having a website optimized for mobile devices will provide more SEO value than ever. Google gives added value to websites that are mobile-friendly. This means companies that aren’t optimized for mobile put themselves at a great disadvantage — not only in terms of their website’s user experience but also in terms of SEO. By making a business’s online presence more powerful and increasing their website’s SEO value, good “responsive design” can help it stay ahead of its competitors.

Content is still king …
While Google has penalized some companies for purchasing guest blogging services, by and large, good content will always provide decent SEO value for a business. Although many people hear content and automatically think of blog posts or whitepapers, there are other components such as videos and infographics that can be used effectively to share information while earning high levels of engagement and adding SEO value.

… But don’t forget to be a good neighbor
Although obtaining quality inbound links has always been a focus point for SEO professionals, the practice has sometimes hurt the company’s branding efforts. Remember that both link building and effective branding need to complement one another in order to maximize their respective benefits. Buying a bundle of links is no longer an acceptable tactic. Reaching out — using tried and tested forms of PR to raise awareness of your website — is an important part of strengthening a business’ SEO presence, while letting it maintain control of brand image.

Social media is more important than ever
While the popularity of your business’s content on social media will not directly affect overall rankings, having positive social signals does help SEO. This is particularly true on Google Plus, where your content is more likely to be higher in an individual’s search result if they are in your circle on Google Plus or have +1’d your content. In order to fully leverage this, it is important that a website include social sharing modules so that content can be quickly and easily shared by the most users possible.

That’s right, we said Google Plus
Google Plus offers more value than just helping your content rank higher in search-engine results for the people who have you in their circles or +1 your content. While it isn’t something “new,” Google Authorship has really caught on recently and should be a part of any business’ SEO plan. This is particularly true if your business puts out a lot of interesting content on a regular basis. Correct implementation of Google Authorship adds a nice author visual that Google pulls from Google Plus — dramatically increasing click-through rate for content that features the image.