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SEO is a constantly moving target and it’s often hard to stay on top of swiftly changing trends and their implications on search. Here’s our forward-looking take on where SEO is going this year and actions for marketers to consider.

The Rise of Content Marketing and SEO’s Role

SEO, at its core, is the practice of evaluating and optimizing the generation of organic search, but it’s also part of the larger content strategy eco-system. Content development and promotion have always been the engine that drives organic search traffic. Just like 2013, there’s going to be a big emphasis placed on content marketing in 2014 – but it’s important to not diminish the important role SEO plays. SEO is a channel that supports content marketing, just like SEM or social media. SEO helps inform content effectiveness and applicability and it drives traffic to your channels. The need for this is greater now than ever before as producing compelling, engaging content continues to dominate marketing playbooks.

What’s changing in 2014?

Some of the biggest changes on the horizon will revolve around the ongoing evolution of personalized search, semantic search and tracking the inter-connection of multiple devices as part of the same search experience. SEO saw some pretty significant changes in 2013, most notably when you combine: ■      changes in Google’s algorithm ■      changes to Google Analytics ■      and changes to how Google SERPs are displayed These will have a continued ripple effect well into 2014.

Embrace publishing

Websites are now part of a business’ core marketing efforts. Large or small, every single business that has an online presence should now consider themselves a publisher. Businesses moved beyond the old three-year cycle of “oh it’s time to freshen up my website” and into the consistent generation of meaningful content. It’s critical to have a content development strategy, editorial calendar, etc. SEO helps prioritize content development based on the opportunity (search demand by content area/keyword) and competition (how many other sites feature this content). Integration of SEO best practices, monitoring of organic search performance, and insights from SEO analysis are fundamental to the ongoing content development and editorial process. The complexities of search, the fierceness of competition and the constantly changing landscape make it extremely challenging to do this either alone or entirely in-house, even for large companies. Seek expert help wherever you can.