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Looking back, looking forward: how Google’s 2013 search changes are impacting 2014

While Google’s search changes didn’t grab as many headlines in 2013 as they did in previous years. Its various updates are however having some serious ramifications and while some of those became obvious last year, it’s likely that we’ll only see what their full effect in the later parts of 2014.

With that in mind, we’ve rounded up what we think are some of the most significant changes Google made to search last year and tried to give you an understanding of how they’ll impact on your life this year.

We will also look at what I personally feel people should focus on in 2014 when it comes to Google search.

1. Changes in rankings of smartphone search results

Faulty redirects and smartphone-only errors are two of the biggest factors that will determine rankings on smartphone search for your website from now on.

Ensuring that Googlebot-Mobile can easily crawl your mobile version or responsive design ready website is imperative for ranking success. This is why it is so important to test, test and yes once again test your pages on all devices.

2. Introducing “x-default hreflang” for international landing pages

In a nutshell, this update is for companies or individuals that have more than one version of their website for different countries, and or languages per country. This update has emphasised once again how important it is to have an international SEO plan in place, especially if you have an ecommerce site targeting more than one country.

Using the hreflang tags ensures that your global marketing strategy is read correctly 100% by Google, and ensures that the user experience all over the world is satisfied.

3. 5 common mistakes with rel=canonical

Since Google made its Penguin update, implementing the rel-canonical tag correctly has become imperative for any website that is serious about organic rankings on Google, Yahoo or Bing.

Whether the same content can be picked up by content displayed under categories as well, or even on another domain, this tag ensures that only one page gets nominated as the primary page, meaning you do not get penalised for duplicate content.

Speaking of penalised, Google does not really penalise you, but it does determine which source or page should be more reluctant as the originator of the content and should be the page ranking in its search engine results page (SERP).

4. A reminder about selling links that pass PageRank

For many years now, Google has warned website owners not to sell any links that pass PageRank, or links that do not have the rel=”nofollow” attribute. This is completely against its quality guidelines.

If some one does approach you and ask if they can pay for a link on your website, ensure you add the rel=”nofollow” tag to such a link.

At the end of the day it is just not worth it in the long run, standing the possibility of getting a manual action against your website.

5. In-depth articles in search results

Often we turn to Google for answers? Thus we need a detailed reply, not just a quick reply anymore? We need a more detailed answer, covering all possible angles in the query we asked.

Knowing this we need to focus once again on the user and his/her needs.

There is enough signals that Google can pick up to see if the user experience is what it suppose to be, just look at this.

My personal prediction is that you should focus on Google Authorship this year and ensure that the content you or your client is producing is 100% that of an authoritative expert in the niche at hand.

What better to use as a resource than real people and their votes? Almost like an election.

Author | Dewaldt Huysamen

Dewaldt Huysamen
Dewaldt Huysamen is a Google Regional Trainer chosen by Google with over 6 years experience in Inbound & Paid marketing. He specialises in SEO, User Experience Optimisation, Conversion Rate Optimisation, Google AdWords, Advanced Reporting and intense Research and Development. Serving clients that spend between R5000 per month up to... More
  • Gregory David Keet

    Thanks for your article. We will be concentrating our efforts on conversions, time on site, and calls to action. Google are watching users actions… and your site will definitely do well in the SERPS provided your bounce rate is low and people are clicking through pages, sharing, engaging on social platforms etc. I know that authorship is important, but it is fairly straight forward to setup and doesn’t take months of on-going work. Google reviews to me are also a highlight for 2014. As you mentioned, attempt to answer questions with fully qualified content backed with resource links will do well. Thanks for your time.

  • Guest

    Could do with a little proof reading and copy-editing though…

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