As digital landscapes evolve, staying ahead of the SEO curve requires strategic integration of content marketing, link building, on-site optimization, and local SEO. In 2024, you don’t necessarily need a complex system to improve portions of your optimization practices—simple changes often have the most impact. However, some complex measures are also necessary for sustained success. This year, businesses should focus on creating evergreen content adhering to Google’s EEAT principles, regularly updating to include the latest data, insights, and SEO optimizations. This approach ensures sustained engagement and improved rankings.

Link building and on-site optimization also remain vital. Effective link building and a robust digital PR strategy enhance domain authority and drive quality traffic, while regular audits prevent link rot. On-site optimization ensures website structure and content meet current SEO standards. Learn four ways to approach each fundamental aspect of SEO in 2024 for the boost you need to stay competitive.

Content Marketing

In an age when consumers are bombarded with information, delivering valuable and relevant content can set a business apart from its competitors. A key approach involves creating evergreen content that stays relevant and valuable over time. Additionally, applying Google’s EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) principles ensures your content builds trust and credibility. By focusing on these strategies, businesses can maintain the effectiveness of their content, drive sustained engagement, and improve search engine rankings, ultimately enhancing their competitive edge in the market.

Evergreen Content Needs Consistent Updating

Evergreen content refers to high-quality copy that remains relevant to audiences over an extended period. Unlike trendy, bait-click, or news-driven pieces, evergreen content continues to drive traffic long after its initial posting. However, to maintain its relevance and effectiveness, evergreen content needs consistent updating.

  • Refresh data and statistics: Over time, data and statistics can become outdated. Regularly updating these elements ensures your content remains accurate and credible. For example, having statistics from before 2020 could be easily updated, especially if they were originally from a .edu or .gov.
  • Add new insights: As industries evolve, new insights and developments arise. Incorporating these updates keeps your content current and valuable to your audience.  This can be in the form of references, new supporting content, or integrating quotes from the evolving perspective of subject matter experts. 
  • Optimize for SEO: Search engine algorithms and best practices change frequently. Regularly revisiting your evergreen content to optimize for the latest SEO guidelines can help maintain or improve its ranking. For example, to satisfy some of Google’s criteria for “Trustworthiness,” you may have to reevaluate the external links to other sources you have on a page.
  • Revise for readability and engagement: Enhancing readability and engagement through improved formatting, updated visuals, and interactive elements can extend the content’s life and appeal. In 2024, it is very common for content to include some imagery, a supplemental video, or even an infographic, so these should all be considerations for keeping content relevant.

Using tools such as SurferSEO—a website that both thoroughly audits content from a keen SEO perspective and automates aspects of the SEO optimization process, including researching, auditing, and writing, to improve your website’s rankings—can help determine what content changes are necessary in order to outperform your competitors. 

Scrutinize Content That’s Performing and Not

Analyzing your content’s performance is necessary to understand what resonates with your audience and what doesn’t. Regularly scrutinizing both high-performing and underperforming content allows for strategic adjustments to maximize impact.

  • Identify trends: Look for patterns in your high-performing content. What topics, formats, or tones are most successful? Use these insights to inform future content.
  • Evaluate underperformance: Assess why certain content is underperforming. Is it due to outdated information, poor SEO, or lack of engagement? Understanding the reasons behind low performance enables targeted improvements.
  • Repurpose and recycle: High-performing content can be repurposed into different formats, such as infographics, videos, or social media posts.

As you are analyzing the performance of your blogs and pages, be mindful of the amount of content that has a history of little to no traffic over a span of time – a year or longer. It may be beneficial to prune this content and rewrite it from scratch to improve your chances of getting indexed by Google, which can enhance your site’s rankings on SERPs. 

Applying EEAT Best Practices to Both Blogs and Pages

EEAT (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness), part of Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines, is a framework used by Google to assess the quality of content. It helps ensure users receive high-quality, reliable information in response to their queries. Applying EEAT best practices to both blogs and pages can enhance your site’s credibility and search engine ranking.

Experience refers to the writer’s direct involvement with the topic. Content is evaluated on how well they demonstrate their actual experience with the subject matter. Expertise involves the depth of knowledge the writer has about the topic. Expertise is assessed based on the creator’s credentials, qualifications, and the quality of the information provided. Authoritativeness focuses on the credibility of the writer, website, or organization. Google looks at how widely recognized the site is as a source of reliable information on the topic. Trustworthiness measures the reliability and trustworthiness of the content. Factors include transparency, information accuracy, and whether the site is secure.

Here’s what you can do.

  • Showcase expertise and experience: Highlight the site’s qualifications and expertise. Including author bios, credentials, and relevant experience can build trust with your audience.
  • Establish authoritativeness: Cite reputable sources and include links to authoritative websites. This demonstrates your content is well-researched and grounded in credible information.
  • Build trustworthiness: Transparency and honesty are key to building trust. Ensure your content is free from misleading information and disclose any potential conflicts of interest.
  • Maintain consistency: Consistent quality and accuracy across all your content reinforce your brand’s reliability. Regular audits can help maintain these standards.

Incorporating EEAT best practices not only aligns your content with Google’s guidelines but also enhances the overall user experience, fostering trust and engagement.

Link Building

Link building is the practice of incorporating useful links to other websites that can drive traffic to and from those sites while improving the value to readers on your site. It’s an essential practice for establishing how your content can help readers better understand the topic and find valuable resources. Google values websites that are excellent at providing information and resources about a specific topic.

Digital PR Is Having Its Moment

Digital PR (public relations) takes all of the benefits of traditional PR methods and moves them online so you can reach a larger audience. What makes digital PR special is it lets you communicate directly with your audience and build the narrative around products and services with a greater degree of control. You can also build better connections directly with your audience by interacting in ways the traditional PR won’t facilitate. Likewise, there’s an additional goal to raise brand awareness and increase credibility through media outreach, ultimately securing backlinks for our clients.

For example, Market My Market executed a digital PR initiative in collaboration with our client NJ Spine & Orthopedic, a group of spine surgeons and medical professionals committed to providing minimally invasive laser spine surgeries to alleviate pain and treat various neck and back conditions. The goal of the campaign was to increase NJ Spine & Orthopedic’s online visibility. See the results below, and check out a successful linking campaign.

Websites Are Pulling Links at an Alarming Rate

Link building is an important part of increasing your domain authority, but many websites are pulling links because they’re essentially “dead” or have been devalued by Google. A link on your website is only helpful when it’s active, leads somewhere of value, and is recognized as valuable by search engines

Old links that break, go to places that don’t offer anything for the subject, or are devalued by Google can hurt your website more than help it. You have to check and update the links on your site regularly to ensure dead or devalued links are not hurting your score.

The impact of old, broken, or devalued links causing problems with websites is so widespread that there’s a name for it: link rot. It’s not unusual for dated web content to develop problems over time, including being devalued by Google. Most companies, bloggers, and other content owners tend to post their content and leave it unchanged indefinitely. 

Old content should be regularly checked to see if it still provides value to readers. One thing you should check is whether the links are still working and valued by search engines. Make a periodic check of old content part of your yearly website management strategy, and you may be able to avoid this problem in the future.

Google’s March 5th Update Impacted Millions of Link Sources

When Google changes how it ranks websites, it can cause massive changes in what you see online. The March 5th, 2024, algorithm update—the first core update of 2024 and one of the search engine’s biggest we’ve seen in the past few years—caused a seismic shift in the visibility of sites across the web. It focuses on reducing low-quality and unoriginal content in search results by 40-45% and enhancing ranking systems to better identify and de-rank unhelpful content created primarily for search engines rather than users. Additionally, new spam policies target manipulative practices, aiming to improve overall content quality and user experience on the web.

The update heavily impacts link sources, reducing the influence of manipulative link practices and low-quality content designed for link manipulation. Examples include Private Blog Networks (PBNs) and links associated with scaled, low-value content, whether AI-generated or human-written. Additionally, the update scrutinizes sites selling outgoing links and hosting low-quality third-party content on reputable domains and penalizes the use of expired domains to boost low-quality content. As a result, it’s important to ensure your links are working, still active, and valuable for readers.

On-Site Optimization / Best Practices

While strategies like link building focus on SEO elements outside your website, on-site optimization focuses specifically on your website and ensuring it’s optimized for search engines. It includes methods like making sure you have the right header structure and page elements and that the content is relevant to what readers are searching for. 

The best SEO practices for on-site optimization change often. Google is continuously trying to find ways of understanding what web pages are about on a deeper level. The search engine also has a tendency to change what it looks for and how it looks for it as it ranks sites. The best practices are no longer just focused on keywords. 

The most important best practice is to write content that’s relevant and accessible to readers. All of your writing efforts should focus on giving readers what they need efficiently and in a way they can understand. All other SEO best practices fall in line with this simple core idea at the heart of what Google is seeking.  

SEO Tools Are More Accurate and Reliable Than Ever

To effectively manage your optimization efforts, using an SEO tool is essential. Google’s algorithm is too complex for any single person to fully grasp. Today’s advanced tools provide accurate and effective insights into the SEO features Google prioritizes. They offer crucial data for creating high-ranking pages and allow real-time assessment of your work, significantly reducing production time and eliminating much of the guesswork.

Here are some examples of useful SEO tools that can help manage and enhance your optimization efforts:

  • SurferSEO: SurferSEO is a powerful tool that helps you optimize your content by analyzing the top-ranking pages for your target keywords. It provides insights into content structure, word count, keyword density, and more. With its real-time analysis feature, you can adjust your content on the fly to improve its chances of ranking higher.
  • Screaming Frog: Screaming Frog is a website crawler that allows you to audit your website for SEO issues. It can identify broken links, duplicate content, missing meta tags, and more. This tool is invaluable for ensuring your website is technically sound and adheres to SEO best practices, making it easier for search engines to index and rank your pages.
  • Ahrefs: Ahrefs is a comprehensive SEO toolset that includes features for keyword research, backlink analysis, content research, rank tracking, and more. It provides detailed insights into your website’s performance and your competitors’ strategies. Ahrefs’ robust data can help you create high-ranking content, build quality backlinks, and monitor your SEO progress effectively.

Using these tools—and the hundreds of others that exist online for any of your many unique and specific SEO needs—you can streamline your optimization efforts, reduce production time, and improve your overall search engine rankings by making informed decisions based on accurate and reliable data.

AI Can Likely Be Used at Scale… For a First Run

Many companies are endeavoring to use AI as a means of writing their content and increasing production, but AI is not ready to replace writers yet. In fact, Google is actively trying to stop folks from overusing AI to churn out new content at a high rate because it’s not producing the quality results Google thinks readers deserve. You shouldn’t use AI to write the final draft of your content, but it can be used to write the first draft. 

Utilizing AI for an initial draft can efficiently expedite content development while incorporating SEO from the outset. However, it’s crucial to review and refine the AI-generated content to enhance its quality for readers and add the essential human touch that aligns with Google’s priorities.

For example, at Market My Market, we may use AI to draft an article titled “Top SEO Trends for 2024.” The AI-generated draft may include relevant keywords and basic trends but lack detailed insights and case studies. The content team, in this case, would review and enhance the draft by adding real-world examples, client success stories, and actionable tips. This refinement ensures the article is informative, engaging, and aligns with Google’s quality standards.

Website Navigation and Crawling is More Sophisticated and Rigid Than Ever

Search engines “crawl” or scan web pages for specific elements to judge each page. The rules for what it looks for are getting more sophisticated. For example, SEO used to be largely based on exact keyword usage. Now, search engines are so sophisticated that they can tell what an article is about even if you only use synonyms for the subject of the article. You don’t even have to say what it is that you are talking about for Google’s algorithm to identify the topic. That’s a level of sophistication it has never reached before. 

Unfortunately, that also means the rules it uses to judge websites are stricter than ever. Achieving a first-page ranking often hinges on a minuscule difference in score, which can result in exponentially more views for the higher-ranked page. Strict rules make it easier to assign points in a tight race, and companies that put in that little extra work are rewarded for it. 

Local Optimization (Google Business Profile)

Local SEO is an effective way for most brick-and-mortar businesses to reach local customers. Creating and optimizing your business’s Google Business Profile is a good first step to ensure customers within your service area can find it. 

Businesses Have Been Strong at Review Generation, Making Competition Fierce 

Most businesses already know how important it is to get customers to leave reviews online. This allows prospective customers to vet a business and feel comfortable scheduling an appointment or making a purchase. However, because so many businesses actively request reviews, the competition is much more fierce. While you shouldn’t stop trying to encourage your customers to leave reviews, it should only be one part of your local SEO strategy, not all of it.

Buying Reviews, Moving Pins, CTR Manipulation, Schema Information Exploitation? 

There are many types of black hat SEO strategies that some businesses try as a way to improve their search engine rankings and drive traffic. Generally, all of these different strategies can backfire if discovered and hurt your rankings:

  • Buying reviews: Buying reviews violates Google’s guidelines and can result in the suspension or removal of your Google Business Profile. Depending on where you live, your business could even face legal action due to deceptive advertising. 
  • Moving pins: Moving your business’s location pin to a place that isn’t your actual business address misleads customers and violates Google’s terms.
  • CTR manipulation: CTR manipulation refers to the practice of artificially inflating the number of clicks on your Google Business Profile in an attempt to increase rankings and relevance. This can lead to search engine penalties.
  • Schema information exploitation: Using irrelevant keywords or incorrect information to mislead search engines hurts the user experience and can lead to lost rankings as algorithms are updated. 

It can be tempting to use artificial means to improve SEO performance. However, it’s a much better idea to focus on evergreen strategies that will work over the long term no matter the next algorithm update versus using a strategy that can leave your site penalized. 

After Call History and Messaging Are Eliminated, What’s Next?

In May 2024, Google announced it will remove chat and call history functions for Google Business Profiles. Google plans to remove the chat feature and call history log by July 31st, 2024. This will change how businesses interact with customers through their Google Business Profiles.

To combat the effects, it’s a good idea to spend time making the FAQs on your profile and website more robust. Aim to answer all of the questions customers used chat to ask in the past. This way, you’re proactively giving customers the information they need to make a buying decision. 

You may also want to consider other third-party chat and communication platforms to reach your customers easily. Some customers may simply prefer to connect with your business via chat. Therefore, it makes sense to meet customers where they are and find another way to connect.

Stay Ahead of SEO Trends with Market My Market

SEO trends, algorithms, and best practices change over time. Most business owners already have so much on their plates with running and marketing their businesses. Having a digital marketing partner on your side who can bring your business expertise related to SEO can make a significant difference. 

The team of content and SEO experts at Market My Market is ready to help keep your business ahead. Call us at (800) 997-7336 or book a discovery Zoom call to get started. We can assess your current SEO campaigns and performance and develop a tailored strategy for your business.