As most of you already know, search engine algorithms across the board have made major steps in 2013 to recognize patterns such as user engagement and better overall performance.  These are metrics that can no longer be bluffed, and their importance will only continue to grow in 2014 and beyond.  Businesses have a legitimate opportunity in the closing weeks of 2013 to commit to excellent online practices that will make their websites stand out from the pack, and this article will provide all the tools you’ll need to make that happen.

Seek Stronger Partner Relationships

Handshake

Over the past 20 years, we have all competed fiercely for backlinks since they were, and in many ways still are, the Holy Grail of web optimization.  The importance of backlinks has been met with a series of mixed messages in 2013 to the point where many companies have abandoned the strategy completely, which was never Google’s intention.  Instead, they simply wanted to see online businesses actively seeking stronger partner relationships instead of simply grabbing a backlink and waving goodbye.

In other words, you should plan on taking the time in 2014 to put a name and a face with your online partnerships.  By embracing those within your industry and striving to create mutually beneficial campaigns to highlight each of your unique features, Google believes that the consumer ultimately wins.  Since the reward is two-fold for conducting smarter business (better rankings and more natural visibility), it makes sense to make stronger affiliate relations a priority in 2014.

Dig Deeper into Engagement Metrics

engagement

Although one of the most popular SEO strategies of 2013 was the tracking of “engagement metrics”, very few of us really took that advantage to heart.  Sure, we kept an eye on the more common metrics like time on site and how many pages were viewed, but there are so many other factors that can help determine what types of information visitors are looking for.  If you’re serious about doing everything possible to please your customers, then your 2014 campaigns should include-

–          Tracking the average time spent on pages with videos, infographics, and different content types

–          Tracking what types of content get shared the most

–          Tracking which content pages are viewed directly before a conversion takes place

–          Tracking which types of media gather the most comments

–          Tracking how often help pages and FAQ are accessed (and how many of those visits lead to sales)

–          Tracking where each unique visitor comes from before visiting your site

–          Tracking how many times users return to your site before completing an action (sale, lead, etc.)

–          Tracking the pages with the highest (and lowest) overall bounce rates

 

Think of each of the above metrics as a piece of a large puzzle.  While each of them does not provide a significant picture all by themselves, together they can really go a long way to tell us who our customers are, how they interact with our websites, and which pages need more attention.  More importantly, it will also help define the personal preferences of your visitors and the most cost effective ways to communicate with them.

Unify Under a Strong Content Manager

content manager

Creating fresh, inspirational content is easily the most difficult aspect of web optimization- regardless of your actual industry.  Nevertheless, a potential job applicant’s writing abilities are almost an afterthought in most businesses across the US; even though it’s the main reason most websites are converting poorly.  That’s why more and more businesses are biting the proverbial bullet and hiring an actual content manager to work alongside existing talent. By adding a full time staff member that’s great with words, quick with creative ideas and a true diva on social media, this person will create additional revenue streams from day one.

Additionally, it is important to understand that a great content manager is not necessarily a programmer, a graphic artist, or even a PPC expert.  While they should have some skills in all of these categories, their primary responsibility on a day to day basis should be to identify and implement ways to connect with your ideal customers.  If you’re going to take the plunge and place a full time writer/editor on your staff, then be sure to focus on prior successes, creativity and actual writing abilities.