2013 is pretty much a distant memory for search engine marketing experts – it’s all about 2014 and what’s coming next. Hummingbird arrived toward the end of summer and brought with it the biggest kick in the trousers most in the industry had experienced since Google was first born. Some fared better than others of course, but crying over the proverbial spilled milk is no good for anyone – what matters is knowing what to do to stay in Google’s good graces over the coming months and years.
So whether you’re an industry veteran or just cutting your teeth in search engine optimization for the first time, here’s a look at some of the habits to take a second look at and perhaps step up for success in 2014:
It really doesn’t matter what kinds of results you bring in with your campaign – you’ll never know what’s going on unless you track everything that happens on a constant basis. Why are they coming? Why are some buying and others leaving? Why are some sources more valuable than others? You can’t just coast along blindly and accept that it all just is as it is – you have to know why it is as it is in order to capitalize on it.
In a similar vein to the above, you must also get into the habit of recording and monitoring each and every result in accordance with the changes made to facilitate it in the first place. If you change a keyword, watch it like a hawk. If you change your site’s layout, start recording traffic and habits fresh from that day.
If you are still relying on the same set of keywords you came up with in 2011, it’s a miracle you’re still here. Success these days means treating your keywords as assets in continual flux, whereby it’s necessary to continue adding more, taking others away and making subtle changes in accordance with what works and what doesn’t. And now more than ever it is so very important to look beyond the obvious.
Take Readers Directly to Action Pages
You have to assume that the majority of web users that head your way are already looking for something, know what they want and are pretty much ready to buy it. As such, you need to make sure that your landing pages are to some extent also action pages – as in pages that allow them to do what they came to do. If they came to buy a vacuum cleaner, you don’t want to make them hunt through a thousand pages of text and to find the link they need to do so. You need to get them where they need to be as quick as possible – they won’t hang around for long otherwise.
Don’t Rely on Machines
A quickie but of crucial importance – you need machines and software programs to help with your tracking and analysis, but don’t fall into the habit of eliminating the human element almost entirely. Use your own judgment, knowledge and ability to reach out to your target audience to refine everything you do.
Factor in the Seasons
There really aren’t many business areas and industries that aren’t to some extent affected by seasonal shifts throughout the year. As such, don’t forget to factor these is as they could have an enormous effect on what works for you and when.
Test, Test, Test
And finally, one habit to break is that of wondering whether a slight tweak here or there could work, but never bothering to try it out. With Google Hummingbird in particular, slight changes like the previously mentioned longer keyword phrases could make a huge difference and don’t cost the Earth to try out. So to the highest possible extent, test each and every theory that comes your way and don’t be afraid to take the odd chance here and there.
Featured image: License: Creative Commons image source
Rocky John Tayaban is a search and social media consultant. For the past 8 years, he has helped hundreds of small and medium companies win more business through online marketing. Follow him on Twitter @SmartOnlinePros to get updates from him on search engine and social media marketing.