Ranking on The Web in 2014

By: Daniel Imbellino
Jan 10, 2014

Post Panda and Penguin, it’s a brave new world for the art of ranking online. Here I’ve compiled a list of things webmasters, blue ranking signalcontent creators, and SEO’s alike should seriously take into consideration if they want to stay ranking and relevant on the web in 2014. Among the factors that will affect your rank this year, and which I’m going to talk about in this article, are aspects such as subject authority, the strength of a brands presence on the web, social signals, the use of Google+, quality of content, your sites technical functionality, and site presentation just to name a few. Online publishers who implement these strategies properly will likely see dramatic results. So let’s get started!

Authority Correlates with a Higher Rank:

It really does! Many have failed to realize that, Google no longer decides the worth of our content all on their own, they’d rather let the public internet decide the worth of you and or your content instead. Google can and based on my observations, does take the authority of authors, as well as the authority of a subject matter into consideration when ranking content. In fact, Matt Cutt’s stated this past year that Google would be giving a boost to those who are an authority on their subject, referring mostly to domains. Are you or your website an authority on a given subject matter? What makes you an authority?

Being an authority on the web today means being recognized by others as standing out in your field. Those who are truly knowledgeable about their subject matter and implement Authorship properly will stand out on their own. While Authorship may not be a ranking factor on its own, it helps both people and search engines to correlate the relevance between content, domains, and people. If Google has the right links and the right info, they will connect the dots. If anything, you would only want for Google to be able to identify your content across the web. If you haven’t implemented Authorship, I strongly suggest you do so.

The other factor that needs to be taken into consideration here is what are others saying about you or your content? Is your content popular? Is it shareable? If not, then you probably need to revise your game plan, and your content strategy. Popularity is what propels content, people, and brands online, and those that remain in popularity will likely rank higher in 2014.

Social Signals, Presence, Google+ and Ranking:

Don’t be fooled into thinking that Google+ and social signals don’t count in terms of ranking. They definitely do, just not on their own. Content that is popular often ranks highly, and Google can and definitely has the ability to identify popular subjects, people, content, etc, with data gathered from its public social network Google Plus. Combining this data with other metrics from across the web tells the true tale of what’s hot and what’s not! As well as who is reputable and who’s not.

If one person’s content is gathering tons of positive engagement, and they’re gaining a large following, this is a good sign to Google that their content is worthy and ready for show time. Think about it? If people are sharing, +1’ing, and commenting on a particular person or publishers content on a large scale, I’d like to think this says something about the quality and worth of that content, which is what Google is after. People don’t typically engage with content they don’t care for, but rather the content they prefer, so consider social engagement to definitely be a factor this year. Comments on social media can tell search engines a lot, and don’t think for a second they ignore this metric.

A brand or persons overall presence matters online. Do people know who you are and what you represent? Have you implemented multiple social channels from multiple networks into your marketing and content strategies? Brands who implement the authoring of content on multiple social media outlets, and link those outlet’s together will have more avenue’s to drive traffic, and a lot more engagement as a result, leading to more popularity and significance among online users, and subsequently more visibility from search engines.

While the world is still crying over Google’s latest algorithms, some of us built powerful brands on social media, in my case on Google Plus. Being the owner and manager of a number of communities and brand pages on the network, I’ve seen firsthand just how powerful these social properties can truly be. If you’re struggling to gain traction with your brand, you can take control by creating corresponding social properties that will drive you on the social web, all while building a large, dedicated following.

Having direct control over multiple social channels on multiple networks gives you the power to control traffic on a large scale. If I need to get the word out about something on the web, I can practically flip a switch and put the message out directly in front of tens of thousands of people in a second flat! All thanks to those awesome social channels we built. Besides, if you want Google to take you seriously, it only helps to have an army of thousands of dedicated followers who actively support you.

Having a large following and actively engaging social channels means having an extended reach and long term visibility on the web. If you build enough community members and brand page followers on Google Plus, the activity alone will be enough to jump start any brand and keep your head above the surface for long periods of time. For instance, our gaming community remains active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and it’s this constant activity that drives the online games section of this site from its link in the about section of the community.

Every day as users enter our community, they just so happen to click thru to the landing page on our site and share the page back on social networks. It essentially amounts to free advertising and year round sustained exposure for the site. Without that link and that community, this site would be losing that extra exposure that can really make a tremendous difference.

At present, Google allows up to 20 brand pages to be created for a given account on their network, and I suggest making use of them as much as possible if you really want to gain an edge over your competitors. Google Plus pages are a powerful marketing force since unlike communities you have more direct control over all of the content that is streamed through them. When you have a really important post to make it sure does help to have multiple social channels and tens of thousands of followers at your disposal.

Another added benefit of communities is that you can have links in the about section that point directly to a corresponding landing page, effectively driving more traffic, as well as page rank, which could be significant depending on the community at hand. People often link to active communities on the web, and having the most prominent link in the about section of your own community will likely pass good link juice right where you want it. It does for me. It also sends a good signal to Google that you’re reputable, otherwise why are so many people standing behind you?

Those who harness the strength of Google Plus in 2013 will likely prevail on the web, in fact they already have! If people like your stuff, Google likes your stuff, it’s really that simple.

Site Functionality Plays a Major Role:

Even the smallest technical issues with your site can have drastic consequences in terms of ranking with Google’s most current algorithms. They aren’t playing when they state they want to see a well functioning website that’s useful to users. Putting content foremost over ads and above the fold will pay off. Likewise, site navigation, functionality will be a crucial aspect to ranking right now. If you haven’t tapped into a responsive design yet, now’s a good time to get started. We’re working to add mobile support around the clock here, you should be too.

In the new age of Google, any low quality, duplicate, or irrelevant content on your site will count against you. Ranking is now effectively a points system, and the objective is to remove as many negative points from your online publishing strategy as possible. Even simple things like duplicate meta tags can dilute your page rank, don’t let it happen!

Quality Content is King:

Well written and well produced content will outperform the rest this year. If your content isn’t performing on social media, then it’s likely it won’t perform well on the organic web either. This year publishers will need to prove to people that their content is worthy, not just search engines.

Presentation Will Drive Content in 2014:

Whether it’s a page on your website or a social media post, publishers who manage to tap into marketing with color will see a sharp rise in engagement on social media, and likely a higher returning visitor count. Right now content marketing is the talk of the town, and nothing drives content on the web like eye appealing graphics. Humans tend to naturally like things that look nice, so why not build your brand on visual appeal? If it’s a larger internet presence you want, then more colorful designs for posts and enticing graphics will drive social sharing and ultimately your overall presence on the web.

In the end, social engagement and overall presence online are likely to be huge ranking factors in 2014. Coupled with quality content, an exceptional graphics strategy, being an authority on your subject matter, as well as keeping site functionality under control, will all likely have a huge impact on who ranks and who doesn’t this year. Having a large presence on the web means others are taking interest in your work, another reason for search engines to take interest as well.

Popular and rising brands don’t need to build backlinks, they have a massive presence on the web, in which others will build links for them anyways. This is part of the reason why I am placing so much importance on making yourself visible online. The larger your presence, the more likely people are to find your content, and the more likely they will link to it. Social is the wave of the future, and those who implement Google+ into their marketing strategies will likely see better results in organic search as a result.

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