Search engine optimization is always a bit of an enigma. By design, major search engines don’t reveal details of the algorithm that results in our search results. Furthermore, the details of SEO trends are always evolving —sometimes with a major update announcement from Google, and other times in subtle ways that may take months to even have an impact.
That’s where your SEO experts come in! When marketers have resource to focus on entirely on search engines, they can stay on top of SEO trends, even with their constant evolution and unpublicized formulas. The experts at Hawke Media have put together a few tips to keep in mind this year.
Toxic Backlinks Are Less Consequential
Traditional SEO thinking says to beware of toxic backlinks. This is when a site that looks like a spam, scam, or hub for viruses links to your website. (It is also considered toxic if your site is linking to them, but hopefully that’s not the case.) The toxic site can do this for a few different reasons, including boosting their own SEO. But when search engines spot this, they ding you for being connected to a toxic site… or at least they used to.
The process to remove toxic backlinks involved either asking the site to remove the links or going through a multi-step process to disavow the link and prove you aren’t affiliated. As Google’s AI has gotten smarter, it has learned to recognize toxic backlinks, and also that they probably aren’t your fault.
Don’t get us wrong, if you have the bandwidth and skillset, still disavow toxic backlinks. It can’t hurt to dissociate yourself from vile internet behavior. But there is no longer a need to worry about toxic backlinks that you don’t know about or can’t get rid of. Google has gotten significantly better at recognizing them and not punishing you for them.
Claim Your Stuff on Google Business Profile Manager
One of the most common issues with local SEO that our experts at Hawke see is that business don’t claim their Google Business Profile Manager, formerly Google My Business (GMB). Even those that do claim their basic profile fail to build the profile out which can include things like: adding images, writing a business description, verifying data, etc.
Just because the name has changed doesn’t make Google verification any less important. This is still the first source of info about your business most customers will see. As Business Profile Manager has evolved, there are also social media aspects available (a remnant of Google+ back in the day), which can be helpful when communicating new offers, changing business info due a pandemic, etc. Make your business profile count!
Once you have your Google Business Profile set up, don’t view it as a chore that needs maintained. Incorporate it into your site to let Google manage your live data for you. The most common issue our experts see here is covering up Google’s map with their own. Let Google’s data populate your maps and beyond. As long as you’ve verified your information on their end, don’t interfere.
UTM is More Essential Than You Think
According to Google Analytics, Urchin Tracking Module parameters are five variants of URL parameters used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. They were introduced by Google Analytics’ predecessor Urchin and, consequently, are supported out-of-the-box by Google Analytics.
A lot of businesses use their own tracking codes, Bitlys, or other alternatives for their analytics. There is nothing wrong with that approach in terms of getting the data you need. However, using Google’s own tracking methods, even if you don’t need them, can help let Google know how effective different campaigns are. This may not impact your overall site ranking, but it can boost or hurt individual campaigns that customers may search for.
Increased Focus on User Experience (UX)
Search engines are placing greater emphasis on the overall user experience. This includes website speed, mobile-friendliness, ease of navigation, and content layout. Ensuring an excellent UX will not only favor SEO rankings but also improve user engagement and conversion rates.
Voice Search Optimization
With the rising use of voice assistants like Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant, optimizing for voice search is becoming crucial. This involves focusing on natural language, question-based queries, and local search optimizations, as voice searches are often local and conversational.
AI and Machine Learning
The integration of AI and machine learning in SEO strategies will continue to grow. Tools powered by AI can provide deeper insights into search patterns, content effectiveness, and user behavior, allowing for more targeted and effective SEO strategies.
Video Content Dominance
Video content is expected to dominate search queries. Platforms like YouTube, which is the second largest search engine, play a significant role in SEO. Creating and optimizing video content for search will become an essential part of SEO strategies.
E-A-T Principle (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness)
Google is expected to continue prioritizing content that demonstrates expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness, especially for YMYL (Your Money Your Life) topics. High-quality, well-researched content from credible sources will be essential.
Sustainability and Ethical SEO
As consumers become more environmentally conscious, they also expect brands to demonstrate sustainability. Ethical SEO practices, including transparency and eco-friendly initiatives, will play a role in building brand reputation and trust.
Local SEO and Hyperlocal Targeting
With advancements in geolocation technology, hyperlocal targeting will become more refined. Businesses should focus on local SEO strategies, including local listings and community engagement, to target audiences more effectively.
SERP Layout and Feature Changes
As search engine result page (SERP) layouts continue to evolve, staying updated with these changes will be crucial. This includes optimizing for featured snippets, local packs, and other SERP features.
Increased Use of Schema Markup
Implementing schema markup to help search engines understand the context of your content will be more important than ever. This can lead to better visibility in rich snippets and voice searches.
Adaptability and Continuous Learning
Finally, the key to success in 2024’s SEO landscape will be adaptability and continuous learning. SEO is an ever-evolving field, and staying informed about the latest trends and algorithm updates will be crucial for maintaining and improving search rankings.
Brings the Experts to You
If some of this feels overwhelming, or you’re just curious what other new SEO trends could benefit you or your business, contact Hawke Media today.