If you are a small business owner, marketing manager, or  a novice SEO specialist trying to learn more about an SEO strategy that works in 2014, then this post is for you.

SEO is no longer only about acquiring, exchanging, or buying a ton of text links to your website in order to rank better. In fact many of those links can hurt your ranking because chances are that they violate Google Guidelines. So below is an SEO strategy we recommend you can adopt in 2014.

A Solid 2014 SEO Strategy

We are going to assume you have no advanced paid SEO auditing tool in this post. Only access to Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) and maybe Google Analytics should really suffice for what you will be doing.

Let’s get to it:

1) Backlink Audit: You must first start  auditing your website’s back-links.  GWT  shows you the links for the 30 days in the dashboard but if you download your links then you will beyond 30days via CSV format. Go through each  link to see if the link doesn’t violate the any of Google Guidelines as we mentioned above. That requires you reading and understanding the Google Guidelines carefully so make sure you do read that and as the community or us any questions you may have about it.

2) Bad Link Removal – After auditing your back-links and identifying your bad back-links, remove them!. Reach out to the publisher or the third party (like former SEO company) that built them for you and ask them to remove the links. If they don’t cooperate,  threaten them that you will report them to Google as link sellers. Chances are that will get their attention.

Don’t even ask them to add “nofollow” that doesn’t work. It is supposed to work in theory but in reality it doesn’t. If a link is not an advertising link, nofollow will not help you much if you have a lot of nofollow links. Just ask them to remove it all together. But if they don’t remove it you can use Google’s Disavow tool as a resort.  Please note that Google wants people to use the tool as their last resort. Also we have observed that doing that alone won’t help you. You must attempt to get links removed first. .

3) Fix Errors and Warnings – Give some attention to your website’s code. Use your websites Webmaster tools and Google Analytics to identify errors and warnings and fix those to best of your abilities. Highly dynamic websites will probably have lots of errors and warnings (according to our experiance) so you may need to identify which errors and warnings to fix and which ones to let go. Our recommendation is go after the easy ones first, and make your way up to the more time consuming ones.

Google makes some good recommendations on warnings as well. For example missing <title> tags, <meta> tags, duplicated content, and etc. Fix all those to best of your ability.

4) Have no duplicated content – Duplicated content and pages can hurt your rankings a lot more than Google likes to admit. Data from our clients show that fixing duplicated content using canonical or Pagination tags increased traffic and  conversions.

5) Come up with marketing plan – Stop thinking on how you can beat the system. You can’t. At least not for too long. Google has many smart and creative engineers and experts working for them. Also Google has a ton of data. In fact one of the senior engineers at Google slipped out that Google’s secrete is its data not its algorithms. So you think you can beat Google? Think again. Not for long.

Instead, we recommend you focus on a comprehensive marketing plan that gets you the exposure you need in order to get you more legitimate back-links, social media links and citations. Build relationships, reach out to your industry influencers, participate in your community, and make sure all your clients are happy. Online reviews can impact your SEO greatly, so make sure you provide products and service that will earn you positive reviews.

Need more details or help building your SEO strategy? Contact us and we will be more than happy to help you.