2014 is here and the SEO updates are still steadily rolling out. There are few important updates to note that happened in January, and a few that we should probably expect within the next couple of months.
We all know by now that duplicate content is something that should be avoided, as there are many instance of Google penalizing websites that are recreating similar content across the web. But is it easy to consolidate information that may have been repeated on different URLs? According to Google's head of search spam, Matt Cutts, using a rel=canonical tag can help centralize the PageRank and avoid Issues with Google.
Link building is still risky -- especially if you're using black hat techniques. Most recently, the notable travel site Expedia gave us an example of just how serious Google is about quality link building. The company lost nearly 25% of their search engine visibility, which many are attributing to bad link practices. Along those same lines, Google is little more pronounced this month on their stance on guest blogging, namely: don't do it. Guest blogging appears to have gotten spammy over the last few months, so Google has now moved to discourage its practice for SEO purposes.
Google Webmaster Tools also had an update. GWT is now showing crawl errors on the final URL of a redirect. This update allows SEO experts to quickly identify pages with errors after the redirect, making fixes effortless.
Updates we may see in the coming months
In local search, experts are hinting at the possibility of reviews growing more influential in the coming months. For one, we recently got wind that Google is making it a bit easier to encourage reviews by adding "&review=1" to your Google+ Local URL. This will prompt users with a screen that requests reviews before the actual Google+ Local page is viewed. Likewise, there's been mention that actual review content will begin populating right on SERPs.
Mobile sites will likely also gain ground for SEO. Last year Google released their algorithm that recognizes full queries, which are helpful for those searching with voice recognition software. There's also news circulating that smartphones will have improved indexing, too. We continue to encourage clients to get proper mobile sites setup for their businesses.
Back on the local side, we've also noticed much of the authorship markup disappearing for the majority websites. This is most likely due the quality of authorship, meaning: only those recognized in their niche industry, that are well-established or reliable sources are showing up in SERPs with authorship.