The same SEO tool that white-hat SEO pros used last year will be used next year, Wood says. "That said, it's true that the quality bar is getting higher as more and more sites focus on producing quality content. It's also getting harder to earn links with good content as bloggers are inundated with great stuff."
3. SEO and content marketing are becoming synonymous. "If you play by the rules, you can't have one without the other, SEO consultant Christian Sculthorp says. But traditional SEO will always have a place, she adds. "People underestimate the work that goes into keyword research, tagging each page [and] website structure. There's much more to SEO than simply spamming links."
4. SEO basics will never go away. Adam Barker, senior inbound marketing manager for SmartBear Software, admits that SEO has changed: "Content is the new way to optimize and drive traffic." But you still have to prepare your site through keyword research and basic on-page SEO, he adds. "This is laying the tracks for the train to come through - and making sure you have the right train coming, through keyword research, is still just as important as it was before."
How Will SEO in 2014 Be Different From SEO in 2013?
5. Search engines will get smarter. "Search engines are rapidly developing the intelligence to discern between websites that provide value from sites that create the illusion of value," says James McDonald, ecommerce analyst for Lyons Consulting Group. "If you [only] think of SEO as a series of HTML, link building, and keyword tactics that enable a site to rank better in a search engine, then yes, we are well on our way to a post-SEO era." Why? The next generation of SEO specialists will eschew those techniques, McDonald says, "and will instead dominate search rankings by consistently creating relevant, engaging and detailed content."
6. Social presence will be more important than search. This trend, evident in 2013, will only be more apparent this year, says Ian Aronovich, president and co-founder of GovernmentAuctions.org. "It's not that search rankings and the SEO era are over," he says. "It's still worthwhile to put resources into SEO. But having a strong social presence is becoming more and more reliable in driving traffic and building brand awareness."
That's because people can quickly share content across social media networks, especially Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn, Aronovich says. "If you put out content that people are willing to share, you can get way more eyes on your company and brand in much less time [when] compared to waiting for search engines to update their listings."
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