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Have you ever tried to shoot a target whose location you didn’t know?

If you have, congratulations, you know what it’s like to try to rank in Google.  SEO Moz keeps an ongoing compilation of Google algorithm updates – every single one Google’s ever made.

2 big ones happened on December 17, 2013 and November 14, 2013.  The December update had “historically high” activity, while “unusual activity” was picked up in November.

In both cases – you guessed it – Google refused to confirm the occurrence of the updates.

So that raises the most logical question:  what in the heck should be doing to make sure your SEO works and never gets you penalized in 2014 and beyond?

Don’t Be Worried, but do Be Careful

If you do white-hat SEO, you’ll be all right – you just have to place a higher emphasis on it than ever before.  Google wants businesses with websites that provide good user experiences, and that usually means:

Technically speaking, this is what needs to happen:

  1. Links should be acquired, not built:  If you go to a website and place your link on it without anyone in particular giving you permission, that’s a “built” link to Google.  Article directories, website directories, press releases, forums, and many other types of links are “built” links that Google will either not count in its index, or worse, penalize you for.  This technique use to work 3 years ago, but it doesn’t anymore.Instead, you have to attract links. Guest blogs (not the spammy ones) work well. Manual outreach to other webmasters is another great way to get rock-solid links. If you can get published in an industry magazine with a link, that’s great too.
  2. Content, content, content – Content marking will now become a profession because Google’s forcing it to happen.  2-4 blog posts per month is a good start.  But, you should also consider diverse forms of content – like white papers, case studies, reports, newsletters, press releases, videos (you can just use your smartphone) – those kinds of things.  Most internet marketing firms now keep a copywriter on staff to keep up with this demand.
  3. Social media activity – The number of followers you have, plus how much they share your content, identifies to Google whether you are a respected authority in your niche.  Moz has confirmed with a study that the more Google+ shares you have, the better you rank (although Google denies this).  Get active on Google+ and other social media profiles where your audience can be found.

The Bottom Line:  It’s a Lot of Work

SEO isn’t something you can buy cheaply for $250 – $500 per month anymore.  In fact, if you buy it for that much (you can), you’re going to get penalized at some point or another (and it can be impossible to recover from a penalty).

No, SEO isn’t overly difficult, but it does take solid hard work over an extended period of time to produce results.  Patience, dedication, and a white-hat, transparent SEO company will be the key to success in 2014.



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