So, it’s a new year, one that brings with it fresh challenges and opportunities. This is especially true for the fast moving world of search engine optimization.

The last few years have seen Google updates that have shaken up the game and there’s every reason think that something similar might happen again this year.

These have been frustrating times for people who’ve seen their successful promotional methods get thrown out the window, but those who’ve been able to adapt have been able to enjoy success. With that in mind let’s look at how SEO is changing and what tactics you should consider if you want to see your traffic grow in 2014.

Moving Away From Keywords

One of the biggest recent changes last year was Google’s decision to remove keyword data from its analytic tool. This keyword data was once the key to creating a successful SEO strategy and measuring its success. Google has officially claimed that the move was designed to improve privacy for users, but many cynical onlookers have noted that it seems to encourage use of Google’s highly profitable AdWords program.

What ever the reason may be it must be said that it fits within Google’s bigger strategy of encouraging the creation of quality content instead of mathematical manipulation.

There are a number of ways you can go forward without keyword detail. Now more than ever it’s important to keep track of things like web traffic and how your pages are ranked by Google. These aren’t as specific as keywords and it can be hard to say what drives new traffic but that’s the nature of the world today.

Analytics is still extremely important, it’s just more complicated. If you still want an experience similar to the way things used to work you should consider an AdWords campaign since Google still provides more in-depth keywords through that program.

The fundamentals of good onsite and offsite SEO still remain. This change should mainly remind us that user experience has to come first. You have to think about what people want when they search a specific keyword and then provide them with what they want. If you can do that and your basic SEO strategy is solid you’ll be on track for success.

Think Local

Once upon a time everyone who searched for a certain keyword got the same results. Now no two sets of search results are the same. The new model is tailoring results to the specific needs of users, and one of the main ways that Google does this is looking at location. For example, if Google knows you’re from Huntsville, thanks to your Google account when you search for “used cars,” it will turn up Huntsville based used car pages along with the usual nationwide sites.

You can take advantage of this to promote your site through the use of Geo-Targeting. Mentioning your location, embedding Google Maps on your page and getting your company listed on Google Maps are all great ways to get the search engine to relate your page with different locations. With competition for rankings getting more fierce every day the key is this sort of targeting, aiming to capitalize on specific demographics rather than trying to reach everyone at the same time.

Making 2014 Your Best Year Yet

The main thing you should take away from the last few years going into this new one is just how important it is that your website combines good content with good design. With every Google update it becomes harder to get away with anything less.

Good SEO takes more time and energy today but the results are more solid and lasting if you work with Google rather than trying to find loopholes. Put the customers first and invest in the fundamentals and you’ll do fine. That’s what Google has said from day one and that’s what you need to do in 2013.

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