Google: Friend or Foe in 2014?

2013 was an eventful year in Search, more specifically in Organic Search.  We have been posting about some of the more important Search events of 2013 and have compiled a list of our top SEO blog posts for 2013. If you have not yet already done so, be sure to subscribe to our feed and get all of our latest posts and insight on organic search and digital marketing tips.

A number of people (SEOs) in 2013 have perhaps seen Google as a foe.  Heck, some longstanding, well respected SEOs retired in 2013 as a result.  One of the biggest things that Google proceeded with that had SEOs miffed was the removal of keyword level data from Google Analytics.  In fact, this article from Wired suggests that, “…this tectonic shift by Google sent a lot of marketers back to the drawing board. It was the worst thing that’s ever happened to SEO.”  While that may be true, keyword referral data is still available from other engines via Google Webmaster Tools and via Google’s AdWords reporting.  It is just a smaller sample of data.  The fact of the matter is a solid online marketing strategy should always focus on the content and not necessarily on artificial optimization tactics to temporarily lift your website in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Your Online Marketing Strategy May Determine if Google is Friend or Foe in 2014

Depending on the tactics and strategy that you look to deploy in 2014, Google will either work for your or against you.  Here are a couple of areas that you may want to consider or reconsider in 2014.

Ranking Focused SEO’s / Businesses – Many SEOs, webmasters and site owners continue to be caught up in rankings and try to employ whatever tactics it will take to inflate their rankings.  If you try to purposely manipulate rankings, you are not going to be successful long-term.  So based on this fact and where we are seeing Google going, if you continue to solely focus on rankings, Google will be your foe in 2014.

Traditional Link Builders – Buying links?  Looking to increase the volume of links to your website?  Perhaps you continue to keyword stuff your anchor text when interlinking site pages?  Whatever the case, you experienced Google as a major foe in 2013.  Expect this to continue to in 2014.  Link spammers have become the Lex Luthor to Google’s Superman (or for you Marvel fans, the Dr. Octopus to Google’s Amazing Spiderman).  Google will continue to combat link spam as diligently as ever.  Google = Foe to those who artificially inflate their link inventories to gain presence in rankings.  Quality Links are still and will continue to be important but your methods of acquiring those links are what Google will be paying more attention to. Image Credit:

Proclaimed Content Magicians – Those who spin content, contribute to produce low quality content, duplicate content and use content that is already available on the Web will indeed be a huge foe for Google in 2014.  Google has always advised against creating “doorway” pages or  creating content for the purposes of ranking within the search engines.  Article and content spinning was a tactic that worked temporarily in the past, but with a smarter search engine, Google tends to see through this tactic and will simply not reward this content with prime real estate in the SERPs.  Content spinning works by rewriting an existing article, or parts of articles, and replacing certain words, phrases, sentences, or even entire paragraphs with alternate versions to provide a slightly different variation from the original piece.  Google will devalue websites that feature significant amounts of duplicate content, thereby making Google a foe to self-proclaimed content and article spinners.

True Content Marketers – While not every business is (or can be) a publisher, being a true content marketer by providing useful and relevant content to your audience will always pay dividends and will ensure that Google is your friend.  Regardless of industry, those websites that continue to produce authoritative content that provides answers to people’s questions and queries will be the ones that receive the most love from Google.  As Matt Cutts from Google has stated:

“…make sure that you’ve got high-quality content, the sort of content that people really enjoy, that’s compelling, the sort of thing that they’ll love to read that you might see in a magazine or in a book, and that people would refer back to, or send friends to, those sorts of things…”

Accessible Content Producers –Those who make their content accessible to Google (and other search engines) will have Google as an ally.  If your content is of high quality, can be efficiently crawled by Google and becomes authoritative, Google will index (and rank) your content accordingly.  If this accessible content is highly engaging foryour audience, Google will become an even closer friend.  Tactics that you will want to continue to employ include:

  • Creating high quality content
  • Producing fresh and timely content
  • Leveraging rich (i.e. schema) markup to provide search engines with information about your content
  • Updating and resubmitting your XML sitemaps to assist Google with the indexing of your site
  • Creating mechanisms for users to share your content
  • Properly using author markup to let Google know that you are the original creator of the content

The Conversationalist – With Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013, we see that Google is moving towards conversational search.  With the amount of people that use mobile devices for search, this only makes sense.  The move from “typed searches” to more of a conversational search, Google is getting smarter.  Each word in a given search query will be given attention by Google.  Making your content semantically sound will help Google understand your content better and may result in your website receiving more qualified traffic.  Participate in the conversation and provide the information that your audience is looking for.  Google enjoys a good conversation and as a result, they will be your friend in 2014.  Create a lot of “noise” and Google will become a foe. Depending on your online strategy in 2014, Google could very well become either friend or foe.   You have the power to determine which efforts you want to utilize.  As Google evolves your website needs to evolve as well.  If you are using Google and Search as a key sales or acquisition channel, you should be treating Google as a close friend.  You should be nurturing this relationship so that your website and Google become lifelong friends.  Relationships can become complicated and Google began complicating things in 2013.  The responsibility is on you as to what your part in this relationship will be moving forward.