Search engine optimisation is forever changing. Every year, there are new predictions about how the industry will unfold and what impact it will have on businesses and their websites.
Part of the ‘prediction game’ is considering what changes Google is going to make to their algorithms. During the past few years, many businesses have seen their online shop fronts jump and drop in rankings because of changes in the Google algorithm.
Some of the most familiar changes have been the Florida, Penguin and Panda updates. In 2014, there was the Pirate update that targeted content hosted on known torrent and illegal file sharing sites (i.e. pirated films, music and books). But it isn’t just these actions that are important. It is also critical to consider new entrants to the market and other changes made by search engines that will impact how internet users will find the websites they want.
For instance, Google announced late in 2014 the abandonment of their Google Authorship experiment. For some people this was a huge blow; they had significantly invested in their profiles and online reputation, only to be told Google was no longer interested.
So what changes are there likely to be in 2015 and how will they impact how you should manage your website to get users finding you?
Prediction One: SEO Will Become More Technical But Will Not Drive Search Rankings
Some people have used SEO and content marketing terms interchangeably. While your content marketing was useful as a way to demonstrate your expertise, it was also useful for building an SEO profile. During 2015, these two aspects of online marketing will diverge and SEO will be more about the technical elements of your site, like meta tags and indexing.
At the same time, the amount and quality of your content will directly impact its rankings. If you produce lots of content that is highly readable and commented upon numerous times, your ranking will be high. Otherwise you’ll find yourself further down the search engine ranks and it will be harder for users to find your site.
Prediction Two: Mobile SEO Will Be Important
The traffic websites receive from mobile devices now outranks that from desktops. Yet for many website owners, the process of optimising their site for mobile devices is still ill considered. In 2015, this will have a significant impact on the ranking for those websites. We’ve already seen the move by Google to place mobile friendly icons next to search results and their own Speed Insights has a mobile test score.
Prediction Three: Optimising Your Site For User Intent Is Key
Through the past couple of years we’ve seen a shift in the demand from search engines for keywords to be long-tailed. This is directly related to how users are now using Google. In the past, they would use one or two keywords like “SEO best practices” to find content. Now they are using more complex search queries, for example “best SEO practices for Auckland software companies”. This change in user behaviour requires a different keyword strategy – long-tailed keywords – so all variations of the keyword can be matched to a search query.
Prediction Four: Brand Name Is Just As Important As Inbound Links
It was recently revealed in a patent submission that Google wants to differentiate between ‘express links’ and ‘implied links’. Express links are the traditional URLs linking content from one site to the content on another site, as in the case of an article referencing sources of information on another site. An implied link is the mentioning of a brand or website, without the URL linking the content to a site.
This move is directly related to the misuse of links (i.e. link farming). Although Google has taken steps to reduce the impact of these; they believe the best option is to put more emphasis on the brand name rather than links. According to some experts, this will be harder to manipulate.
Prediction Five: Social Signals Are More Important
The demise of Google Authorship may have consequences for Google. Businesses have become angry at the continued quick trigger finger of Google and how they can quickly discontinue a service.
With the anger of Google’s cut to the Authorship program will come reluctance by businesses to invest in other products like Google Places and Google Plus. This has led to some SEO experts believing that it won’t be long until these programs are also cut because of a lack of interest in them.
To compensate for the lack of interest, Google may have to analyse the influence of content another way. One solution would be to use social signals from other social media networks like Facebook or Twitter. The more likes and retweets a piece of content has, the more popular and higher it is placed in the rankings.
This means that if you don’t have a good social media manager, your SEO campaign could fail badly.
Prediction Six: Social Interaction Will Be Just As Important
Just as the social signals generated from content will be important, so will the personality of the brands. By reaching out to others in the community and conversing with influencers in the market, brands will be able to improve their search rank standings.
Prediction Seven: Negative SEO Is The Threat
Black hat SEO used to be about building websites to point to another site that the person wanted to promote. Now the battleground has shifted and instead of the link spam target being the company employing black hat techniques, it is the competitor’s site. In theory, this should delist the target.
There has been a surge in the use of this negative SEO technique and it can have a significant impact on your rankings in the long term. According to Google’s John Mueller, the only way to win this fight would be to disavow the links; which could take up to nine months.
Search engine optimisation is going to change in 2015, like it has every year previous to this. By understanding the changes and keeping up to date with Google news; you can improve your rankings quickly and your website will rank higher than your competitors. This will increase the traffic to your site, your leads and sales.