Which SEO techniques will you be focusing on in 2015?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is an ever-changing, what’s-the-latest, keep-up-or-get-out business; this we know. Every year (and every week) seems to bring world-rocking changes to Google algorithms, what’s 'in', and what’s 'out' in terms of best SEO practices.While the core SEO success factors shown below remain constant, changes to Google's algorithms and webspam filters will mean that we should always be pushing the boundaries by testing new techniques.
In this post I have picked five 'predictions' for SEO in 2015 that are not only already gaining momentum, but which I think will help online success.
1. Long-tail keyword searches will play an increasingly essential role in SEO.
Long-tail keywords offer the opportunity to give users content that is more specific based on their searches. Queries made by users are becoming much more accurate and focused. For example, what used to be a search for 'cookies' has now become 'allergen-free cookies near Houston'.
Long-tail keywords are effective for better content optimization and search personalization.
You can find the long-tail keywords that are most suitable for your industry or niche by using Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool and by looking over the data in your Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. Regularly monitor your forum content, social media and customer service communication as well to find appropriate long-tail keywords, recommends Moz.
A website that provides specific information using long-tail keyword variations is going to be seen by Google (and by users) as more of an authority and more reputable than a website that merely repeats standard, generic industry keywords.
LSI, or Latent Semantic Indexing, is used by search engines to determine if content online is on-topic or nothing more than spam. When search engines 'look' at articles, blogs and content, it will determine the keyword density of LSI terms.
Words and phrases with the highest keyword density are flagged and used to determine what the content is about. If the long-tail keyword 'allergen-free cookies near Houston' is flagged, the search engine will expect to see other relevant terms (LSI terms) within the content as well, such as chocolate, peanuts, ingredients, safe, Texas, and others.
Google will reward content handsomely in 2015 that has a good balance of LSI terms along with those long-tail keywords.
2. Brand citations and mentions (implied links) will give express (or conventional) links a run for the money in terms of power.
Google seems to be placing more emphasis on nofollow links and brand mentions (implied links), which are projected to become just as important to SEO as the dofollow links and express links.
Express links are URLs that lead back to a webpage; implied links are those that mention a brand or site without actually linking to it. Brand mentions might be found in blog posts, in comments and elsewhere throughout a site that specifically mentions the brand.
Because of the extensive abuse and misuse of link building in the past, Google has turned its attention to implied links more than in years past. Brand citations are less likely to be manipulated for the sole purpose of achieving higher search engine rankings, and are also more difficult to be manipulated.
The key for link building in 2015 is going to be to make sure that links appear natural and that they are from a diverse range of sources – those sites that already have high authority already will be optimal to link to.
In years past, link building as a tactic meant that more links equaled higher authority. Since then, of course Google has caught on to this 'black hat' SEO technique – now, those old link building methods will damage a site’s authority. Specific tips for successfully using brand mentions and implied links are offered by Jayson DeMers.
With this being said, as brand mentions are becoming very important to a site’s authority, this does not imply that traditional, express links are now obsolete. It’s important for effective search engine optimization that websites include both implied and express links in strategies
3. Mobile usability will move from being an advantage to being a necessity.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that mobile device users are demanding sites that are optimized for those mobile devices.
Google also seems to be holding a great amount of importance in mobile usability and responsiveness – we’ve already seen Google testing the use of icons next to poorly-optimized sites warning that those sites are not mobile-friendly.
Furthermore, the company has also added a mobile usability section in Google Webmaster accounts to assist website owners in seeing how their sites perform on mobile devices.
Owners can also get specific warnings indicating where they can improve their sites. For the past year, Google has penalized websites that contain errors for mobile devices. Websites containing videos that are not playable on mobile devices and those that have faulty redirects are penalized with priority.
Although mobile usability isn’t currently officially a ranking factor, it’s only a matter of time before it will be. Google stated in a recent Google Webmaster article that since global web traffic with mobile devices is increasing, mobile visitors are going to be more likely to visit mobile-friendly websites. 'Mobile usability is now relevant for optimal search results,' the article states.
4. More SEO value will be placed on social media signals
Facebook, Google+, Twitter and other social media sites are the targets of stronger presences by companies and corporations. SEO and social media experts are pushing businesses to get profiles set up and maintain them with comments, tweets, updates, photos and more. 2015 will be a banner year for social media marketing.
Experts also had promoted Google Authorship in 2014, believing that it would be important for achieving high search engine rankings. Google ended the Authorship program this past August, however, after it was deemed to not be 'as useful to our users as we’d hoped,' according to John Mueller.
Many experts now believe that Google will be pushing for more emphasis on Facebook and Twitter, even though in the past it had been reluctant to do so. There has always been a healthy debate as to whether or not Google presently uses social signals in its algorithm for ranking. Although Google has denied that social signals are used in its algorithm, many studies show strong correlation between rankings and signals.
5. Integrated SEO - SEO should not be be its own department
Instead, it will become completely integrated with other marketing aspects. There are still many businesses that have their own SEO departments, or that have hired SEO-specific professionals for that aspect of their marketing. However, joining forces with social media along with content-specific marketing is going to take off full swing ahead in order to achieve the goals of higher search engine rankings. For websites to succeed, the three will have to integrate and correlate as parts of a complete search engine optimization package.
This is not to say that conventional SEO is disappearing or being phased out – instead, think of it as merely changing. Rather than SEO being of its own distinct discipline, it will be more frequently used as a foundational component that is affected by (and affects) the other aspects of marketing (social media and content).
In addition to understanding the specialized skills of SEO and keeping up to date with SEO tactics, changes and methods, SEO consultants will also need to understand the creation and promotion of content on-site, throughout the Internet itself, and among social media sites.
As were now well into 2015, it already brings many exciting changes to all things related to SEO; in addition to the previously mentioned five changes to SEO in 2015, there will be many others throughout the year – some small, and some game-changing. Big or small, as always, professionals need to keep their eyes and ears out and be prepared to adjust accordingly to keep up.
Thanks to Billy Canu for sharing his advice and opinions in this post. Billy Canu is the CEO of SEOHaus and is a passionate and driven bi-costal entrepreneur and investor originally from Denver, CO, who now splits his time between sunny Southern California and culturally vibrant New York City. A thought leader and visionary, Billy is the owner and mastermind behind SEO and digital marketing powerhouse Brighthaus, an all-inclusive agency that specializes in digital marketing, SEO, PR, and creative services. You can connect with Billy on LinkedIn.