The year 2013 certainly marked some historical changes in content marketing. Thanks to all of the notorious algorithm changes, Google has made web content marketers wake up and smell the rankings. It’s no longer about who has the best keyword usage or who knows how to trick the search engines — it’s all about who can offer the most unique information to readers. At Express Writers, we think 2014 will be the year of the Informer.
So basically if you’re not informing, you won’t be ranking.
2013: The Game Changer
Google’s Hummingbird release really hit hard for most websites. If Google Panda and Penguin didn’t make it clear enough, Hummingbird has made it obvious that Google wants readers informed and not filled with useless Internet dribble.
We all know it’s always been about content, but now it’s time to take that content seriously. We know more changes are coming and if you’re not a step ahead, you’re going to take a hit to your precious ranking. That is why we’ve devised a few content forecasts we see coming for 2014 and we’re going to share them with you.
Content Will Be About Quality — Not Quantity
Google values quality above all else and Hummingbird sealed the deal for content marketers. In 2014, we see Google putting their statements into action and taking websites with quality, not quantity. Hummingbird uses a more in-depth search approach that looks for answers to Internet user’s questions. It won’t matter so much about the keywords you use in your content; instead, Google wants to deliver an accurate, relevant answer to its user.
It’s no longer about producing mass amounts of content just to rank. It’s all about the quality of that content. Google isn’t going to look to see if you post daily, they’re going to look to see what you’re posting and if it’s worth the time.
The quality theory also applies to keyword usage. Google doesn’t want to see you use your keywords in a specific percentage. The day of meeting three to five percent will be gone in 2014 — or so we think. Sure, keep your keywords and targeted phrases in mind as you produce your website’s content, but don’t go crazy trying to fit them in. Your content should flow naturally and your keywords too. The SEO will handle itself, so you should just focus on quality first.
Guest blogging was the “it” thing to do in 2013, but we see that taking a drastic decline in 2014. Matt Cutts already stated in his latest video that guest blogging should be “used in moderation.” Google is all about a site’s reputation, and guest blogging shouldn’t be your primary way to boost your reputation. Sure, use guest blogs here and there, but don’t make them the core of your content strategy for 2014.
Lastly, in the quality category is relevance. If you were one of those website owners that used high-ranking keywords and backed it with irrelevant content, it’s time to change your ways. The future of content is all about relevancy. The new search engine algorithms know how to analyze a site for relevancy. So pop out the irrelevant keywords and start focusing on how your content can deliver useful, targeted information to Internet users.
Authority Will Take Priority
In 2013, it was made clear Google wants authority, but we see that statement really taking hold in 2014. Google and Internet users want stuff written by people who really know what they’re talking about. They don’t want someone guessing or filling their heads with factually incorrect garbage.
To help boost credibility of the world’s countless number of Internet authors, Google is putting more emphasis on Google Authorship — as should you. You’ll want to link back high-quality articles to your Google+ page as much as possible, according to Copypress.com. Building a solid reputation for quality will increase traffic to your site and help you establish your virtual cred.
Most of the competition out there is already working on building up their reputation. So instead of waiting for January 1st to roll around, start working on quality articles you can link to your Google+ page.
Personality Will Matter
Let’s face it; if you wanted a lecture you’d go back to school. Right?
We predict more personality and branding in content for 2014 and for good reason: it is what people want to read!
The average Internet reader is easily bored. Can you blame them? After spending hours sifting through Internet trash to find something interesting – that’s what they really want – something interesting.
You need to leverage your own personal style and write some unique content that really showcases what makes your brand different from the rest. Now we aren’t saying use street lingo — unless you’re selling street clothes and that would be killer — but you need to speak to your target audience.
Add the personality and conversational tone that your target customer would expect from your brand. There’s no need to take it too far. After all, you’re an industry expert so you know the people you’re speaking to and how they want to be spoken to. Think of it as if you were talking to that customer in person. How would you approach them? Discuss your products? If you were teaching them something, how would you talk?
No matter what, avoid the snooze fest. It’s okay to add a little personality here and there, even on a very serious topic. Don’t force it, just be yourself, and be natural. The more natural and conversational your content is, the more likely it is to be shared on social media — which brings us to our next prediction for 2014…
Your Social Status Could Come Into Play
Social media is highly influential. Think about it. When you think of today’s top trends, where do you see those trends most? On social media, of course.
Google has already stated that social status and good content go hand in hand. If you write something that is quality and useful, a user will ultimately share it on social media. Think of the stuff you share. It’s obviously good enough and worth the time to forward it to others, right? That’s what your content needs to be.
Start sharing your own content on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Make it engaging, resourceful, and share-worthy.
According to SearchMetrics.com’s 2013 Ranking Factor study, social signals that were high correlated with higher search engine rankings. The more +1’s you have on your Google+ might actually increase your rank better than Facebook in 2014.
Twitter has already proved itself as a valuable asset to every business and website owner out there. If you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s time to sign up for one.
Use the social media networks that your target customers are likely to use. Twitter, for example, attracts a younger crowd who can keep up with the ever-so-quick feeds of posts. Facebook, on the other hand, is attracted by all ages and Google+ is user-friendly for most too. Work your magic on the social networks your target audience is likely to be on so that you can remain visible at all times.
Your Content Will Go Mobile — Whether You’re Ready or Not
Mobile is a new trend that is going to gain momentum in 2014. Mobile users are growing and after Christmas 2013 we expect more mobile users than ever (let’s face it; everyone wants a tablet for Christmas).
We cannot emphasize it enough: mobile is coming. Your content needs to be mobile-ready today so it’s ready for the mobile users of tomorrow.
Mobile SEO will also be important in 2014. As the number of mobile users grows, so will the demand. Mobile users aren’t that much different from those using standard web browsers. They still want information. That means you need to provide content that is valuable and answers on-the-go users questions.
Your average mobile user isn’t going to sift through countless pages to find their answers — they’re going to pick from those first pages of results. Some of the first pictures shown in the Hummingbird presentation were of mobile phones — isn’t that hint enough?
Webpages must also be optimized for mobile users. They should be simplified, easy to navigate and relevant. If your website is too clunky or difficult for a mobile user to find what they’re looking for, they’ll move on to the website owner who took the time to prepare for mobile. So for 2014, go mobile.
Content Gets Longer
The days of writing a cute 250-word post are dead. Long form content is the wave of the future and we see that being the only wave of 2014. Sure, there are times users want a quick, easy read, but some topics really require more in-depth information.
Google is featuring those articles that are in-depth. To be in-depth, you need to go well over 250, 500 and even 1,000 words. The longer your content is, the more effort you’ve put into it; therefore, Google will reward you with a better rank.
Long content can drag down your rank if you don’t do it right. Google doesn’t just want to see 1,000 words of nothing — they want substance. Do some real research, put some thought into it, and create posts that give your readers some knowledge. Think of yourself as a professor and you have just 15 to 20 minutes to teach someone about your topic. Break it down for the reader, avoid the fluff, and teach them something useable.
Some tips for success:
- Always have a purpose.
- Make your content digestible. Don’t give them a wall of 1500 words and expect them to read it. Break it up in easily read sections.
- Write it only as long as it needs to be to serve the purpose you defined in Step #1.
- Make the content searchable using keywords naturally.
- Make the content share-worthy — would you share it?
- Add some images or videos to help break up the content.
What You Should Take Away From All of This
2014 is going to have a few notable changes — perhaps some that are bigger than what we’ve seen in 2013. As you plan your strategy for 2014, it would be rather dumb of you not to at least integrate one of the things we’ve mentioned here — after all, we took the time to tell you what to expect for 2014, so you cannot say you weren’t warned.
So what have we learned?
- Content will be about quality — high quality at that. No more writing just to write, it’s time to actually share some useful information.
- There will be more emphasis on the author’s authority. You’re an industry expert so embrace this! Write about what you know, share your expertise and the authority rank will come naturally.
- The days of boring content are over (thank goodness). It’s time to actually converse with the people and not act like you’re talking to a cyborg.
- Social media will influence your rank rather heavily. So, it’s time to stop being a wallflower and be a social media butterfly.
- Content is going to go mobile, so you had better prepare your site and content for the mobile users of 2014.
- Content needs to be in-depth, which means it needs to be longer — a lot longer.
The changes of 2013 have taught us a lot. Content marketers can’t just throw up slabs of text and call them “content” anymore. It’s about really speaking to the readers and if anything, you should be excited for these changes. That means as you browse the web in the future you’ll actually find good content, worthy content and stuff you can learn from. Think of what the future holds with these new and exciting changes? 2014 is certainly going to be the year of the Informer and if you’re not informing the readers, you’re not going to do so well in 2014.
That’s our prediction at least.