With the recent turmoil with search engines and rankings, many are wondering about how much they should ask for their SEO budget in the coming year. Luckily, even with Google’s changes, SEO continues to yield a great return on investment. This article will give you 5 reasons why it is in your best interests to increase your SEO budget for 2014.
1. Gaming the System with Cheap Backlinks Will Get You Busted
Google has made it clear that they will not tolerate sites that try to “game the system”. They’ve made great strides over the past couple years to reduce many of the cheap methods that website owners often use to create backlinks. Tactics like article spinning, excessive social bookmarks, paid links, duplicate content, and keyword stuffing are no longer acceptable in Google’s eyes. For more outdated tactics as well as what works now, see “Still Relying on Old SEO Tricks? Here’s What Works Now.”
2. Recovering from Google Penguin is Expensive
Many websites have been able to recover from a drop in the SERPs due to Penguin. However, recovering is expensive. Typically, a full SEO link profile audit is needed to identify the problems and craft a path for recovery.
Even if your website has not been hit by an unnatural link warning within Google Webmaster Tools, it’s still a good idea to perform a link profile audit to identify any potential links which could cause future trouble. Preventing the problem is often cheaper than fixing it.
The lack of sufficient inbound link diversification (in terms of anchor text, domain diversity, and content type) became a real problem when Google’s Penguin algorithm was launched. Low-quality or manipulative (ie, unnaturally obtained) inbound links also pose a significant risk. A proper link profile audit will tell you if your backlinks are likely to result in a rankings drop.
3. The Right Kind of Content Marketing Isn’t Cheap
Not long ago, you could publish a couple 500-word blog posts per week and gain measurable traffic and authority with Google. While short articles do still have value, there’s definitely a trend within Google toward favoring longer content.
In the future, I expect that articles will need to be a minimum of 1,000 words in length to rank well in Google, and better yet if they’re over 2,000 words. Google’s new in-depth article section is a good indicator of where things are going. According to Google, “Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic.”
Already, Google is providing a new section within the first page of its search results called “In-depth articles.” Take a look at the screenshot below, for my query on “censorship.”
4. You Will Need a Content Marketing Strategy
Content Marketing is the new SEO, according to Neil Patel. And frankly, I agree. Building your brand by publishing awesome, useful content that closely fits the needs of your target audience is what generates real brand signals that will get your content ranked in the search engines.
This is one reason why it’s critical for your SEO provider to also provide content marketing services. In 2014, content marketing will play an even more important role in building your brand through generating traffic, leads, and conversions. Without it, your SEO firm is likely to fall back into the low quality content trap where they simply try to make the content “unique” and not care about quality.
If you’re not using a firm to help execute your content marketing strategy, these articles will be helpful in putting together your own:
- How to Generate a year’s Worth of Blog Post Ideas
- 11 Places to Find Awesome Content Marketing Ideas
- How to Build a Kickass Content Strategy
5. Outsource Your Social Media to Scale It Up
We believe that in 2014 social media signals will continue to exert a growing influence on search engine rankings. One thing for certain is that social media is definitely becoming more of a factor for driving traffic and building a successful brand.
Social media positively affects the bottom line in many ways. However, is it a good idea for you, the business owner, to spend a lot of your time doing social media? Probably not. Every minute you spend participating across multiple social media platforms means that you’re not focusing on the parts of your business that only you can do. And as the business owner, that’s all you should be doing – otherwise, you’re not maximizing your valuable time. The simplest solution is to outsource social media management. This will allow you to scale it far beyond the time you could spend doing it yourself.
Choosing an SEO Firm
One big factor to consider when selecting an SEO firm is to make sure they have a proper long-term vision of your needs. SEO, when done correctly, incorporates a long-term vision with the proper mix and integration of strong content, social media, and inbound links.
Earning high-quality inbound links is far more important than it used to be, especially since the rollout of the Google Panda and Penguin algorithm updates. This is probably the biggest reason why the cost of search engine optimization is likely to increase, and thus why your budget will need to increase. When you include the cost of properly scaling social media to meet your growing company’s needs, it’s likely to increase even further.
I hope you have a good understanding of why you’ll likely need to increase your SEO budget in 2014. There have been a lot of changes in the past few years, and many companies have suffered as a result. Working with an SEO professional can help clarify your goals and design a plan that will help you achieve those goals.
Photo courtesy of Tax Credits
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