The last two years have seen some dramatic changes for SEO. The landscape is very different as a result, and we’ve become an adaptable bunch thanks to major Google updates, and the decline of ‘blackhat’ SEO.
In 2014 there were an estimated 13 updates to Google’s algorithm, but it seems a lot more went on behind the scenes. Industry experts now believe that continuous Google updates will be the way of the future.
Following on from our previous blog, 5 lessons to learn from SEO in 2014, here we’re hanging our SEO hat on the following big predictions for 2015…
Mobile mobile mobile
In 2012, ComScore estimated that mobile traffic would surpass desktop traffic in 2014. And they were almost spot on. Mobile traffic is predicted to overtake normal web traffic by next year. So as a result, you could assume mobile searches will more than likely take over desktop searches at the same time. Mobile SEO will be a key player, and strategy should be outlined now.
According to a study by Nielsen (on behalf of Google), 74% of mobile users used a search engine during their everyday purchasing process, with 83% wanting to make a purchase that day, and 55% within the hour.
To avoid you or your clients being left behind that trend, experts need to ensure web design, content and SEO strategy are all optimised for mobile. Creating a mobile sitemap, and optimising embedded images and videos will be crucial, alongside your search strategy. You can no longer simply consider desktop searches in isolation – you have been warned!
A few years ago, some self-appointed SEO ‘gurus’ learned how to rank highly in Google – fast, but this wasn’t necessarily valuable ranking. More often than not they used quick fixes and created high numbers of low quality backlinks, so the powers that be at Google introduced Penguin and Panda to regain order.
Until relatively recently, SEO was a lot simpler. There were many tried and tested methods in use to help companies rank highly, but since our monochrome friends forced agencies to re-evaluate and produce valuable content and link building, stand alone SEO just isn’t cutting it anymore.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts – integrated SEO strategy across digital, advertising and PR is crucial to attain the best results, and social in particular is an increasingly important component of online marketing strategy, but often not for the reason companies expect.
Social media began as a platform to share content, and it still is key to digital outreach, but it is now becoming of growing importance to SEO, alongside being a powerful channel for marketing and customer service.
Content will continue to drive the integrity of rankings through social, engagement and SEO, as it has through 2014. As Google moves to live Penguin updates, it will be consistently searching for great content. It’s old news that content will be penalised if it is written for SEO rankings, rather than customer experience, but interesting and novel ways to communicate about relevant and interesting consumer issues will be key as we move through 2015.
Earning vs. building links
To put it simply, 2015 is not really going to be about building links – it’s going to be about building relationships.
Creating meaningful relationships with key industry influencers, and genuinely supporting their cause will help you to attain valuable support for your own content. This isn’t to say follow to be followed, as that can be ineffective, and undermine your authority, but if it’s relevant, it’s valuable. You’ll find you get better links by focussing on value, not volume. Being active on a few social media platforms and offering new content and expert opinions will help you to organically earn strong back links, which in turn can inflate your following, and as a result potentially boost your leads and revenue. It’s called author-rank (more on this later).
You can build valuable, worthy links in 3 simple ways:
Editorial links are the premium form of outreach that all SEO experts aspire to. More often than not, these are informative and opinion based rather than commercial promotion. Once published on an already respected site, you (and your followers) can share it on social media to increase the reach.
Co-citation, is a great way of building up relationships. Citing similar or even competitive links in your content where it’s relevant, helps Google reference that you are similar. This is particularly beneficial if the competition already holds an authoritative position.
3. Broken link re-builds
Broken link-building is searching for any broken links on relevant content pieces already existing, contacting the publisher / editor and requesting your link is substituted to benefit both parties. It can be time consuming, but if you’re lacking good content in the short term, is a quick way to win.
It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it
Semantic search is a key indicator of a Google evolution – we have already seen old school keyword targeting dying out, but in 2015 search will revolve around context and conversation.
Following on from Google Hummingbird, there is now much more emphasis on phrasing and conversational searching, and in 2015, further algorithm advances will see semantic search reward context more than ever. To get ahead, consider how your key words relate to the rest of your content and keep the user experience in mind at all times. To do this effectively, you need to be in the mindset of a customer. How would you articulate what you’re looking for? Maybe you’re looking for some jewellery for a specific person? You may search something such as ‘best jewellery gifts for a sister’.
Write content that you would want to read as a person, rather than as a search engine – not only will this approach attract more targeted traffic, but typically there will be less competition in the qualifying rankings.
We’ve already touched on this, but it’s really going to make a difference in 2015. Who you have supporting you, linking to you, and writing your content or blog pieces, will play a very important role. You don’t need to run out and hire the most influential authors and experts, but you should develop your own team and proud of their authority, both individually, and on your behalf. You can find out a bit more about how author-rank changes affect you and your team here.
Authors who create fresh, relevant content and are more likely to have have a larger following, and are also more likely to rank highly in search results, sometimes even regardless of where their content is featured.
Empowering your content team and contributors to seek out their own support for their work and support the views of those that interest them is invaluable, as well as making content come across as more sincere. It used to be less about content, more about where you were featured but that’s changing – content is king and authority is the kingdom currency.
The world of SEO continues to change and adapt – and that will be no different in 2015. Many hope that the new rolling algorithm updates will help to avoid landslide overnight changes in search rankings in future, but there are additional factors, such as inbound marketing, that will come in to play in 2015 to alter the SEO landscape even further.
If you’d like to get the new year off to a great start, we’re here to help with your marketing strategy – get in touch with us today and find out how to create an integrated campaign.