How Will SEO Evolve In 2015?
It was never going to be a smooth ride for Google, but that doesn't mean it isn't the right way forward. One good thing that's come out of this is that we no longer have to ask the question of whether content is the right way to go or not, we have no choice but to build real brands in order to succeed.
Where is SEO Evolving in 2015?
It’s hugely important to be innovative in digital - SEO alone is so fast paced that you can’t just focus on what works now and follow the trends, you need to think ahead about what the search engines are trying to do and where they are moving towards in the future.
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I was recently asked to take part in Danny Denhard’s excellent interview on where organic search is going in 2015. Definitely read this in full, but I just wanted to expand on my own thoughts here:
With the number of high profile changes and algorithm updates on 2014, what do you think the most important thing will be to achieve success in 2015?
There’s been more changes over the last 12-18 months, than I can probably remember over the previous 10 years! Whether that’s pandas, penguins, pigeons or hummingbirds - they’ve all had a common theme of fighting manipulation and anything which looks like an SEO footprint. It was never going to be a smooth ride for Google, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right way forward. One good thing that’s come out of this is that we no longer have to ask the question of whether content is the right way to go or not, we have no choice but to build real brands in order to succeed.
Where we’re focusing at BlueGlass and believe will be most important aspect towards success in 2015 is in data-driven content which can really resonate with its target audience and become hugely sharable/newsworthy along the way.
Where or what do you think the biggest challenge will be in 2015?
The challenge for many has been because SEO has become too broad for one person now, and in the traditional sense I see the role being SEO strategists - supported by content production and outreach/promotion specialists.
We’ve structured our team around the client lifecycle demands, ensuring that we are good in each of these key areas (strategy, production and promotion) - these are all completely different skill-sets and people.
I’ve also trained a lot of large brands over the last 12 months on content marketing - and the one common theme is that they are growing their digital teams rapidly, but there’s a lack of structure behind where they are recruiting. Having the right mix of people in the team will be essential for anyone, brands or agencies, to get results in 2015. Otherwise they risk being over-taken by more agile and lean/nimble teams who can move quicker.
The key starting point for all of this, as I mentioned in my last answer, is data. Strategy should always start with data, without this you can’t analyse past performance, marketplace trends, or link profiles - and more importantly you can’t make key business decisions on how to best move forward.
Data isn’t just about being measurable either - it’s no co-incidence that data-driven content is where I always see the best success. Brands are now story-tellers and to be credible/trusted they need to based this on fact, data and insight that hasn’t been seen before.
Thinking about how you think your industry or clients industries are going, what’s the best piece of advice that you give all clients or prospective clients in coming weeks/months?
My advice would be to build an audience and don’t rely on Google. If you look at the sites that are winning in Google, they are the ones who are often the biggest brands - look at Tripadvisor or MoneySuperMarket as an example. They want to capture as much traffic as possible from organic search, of course, and are very good at doing so - but once you’re on their site, they’d rather you remembered them and came back directly next time. That avoids the risk of you finding another competitor along the way, so I would advise you setup your call-to-actions around signing up for a newsletter, following on Twitter, becoming a fan on Facebook, downloading an app etc..
That way rather than going to Google to find your next holiday, you go straight to TripAdvisor - likewise for MoneySupermarket with insurance. From a content perspective this is hugely important too. You want to make your biggest link building tool your publish button, so if you’re continually adding to your readership and subscriber base the audience is always growing.
What do you predict will be the biggest change / or hardest hitting change will in 2015?
Dealing with ever-changing algorithm changes has been the biggest theme of 2014. But one thing I wrote about earlier in the year was the influence of Google vertical search and marketers now have to consider how Google may be a more direct competitor with their own properties taking traffic away from them in the future.
This is becoming an increasingly important threat towards a lot of brands - it’s worth ensuring that you can set your brand up to a) maximise as much of this as you can via schemas, rich snippet markups and the knowledge graph, and b) build a brand that your customers will prefer to visit rather than typing in a query into Google!
Other key areas to look out for include:
- HTTPS - continued roll-out of not provided and move to secure servers
- Mobile search experience optimisation - due to ever-increasing audience of mobile visits and app downloads, leading to notification job alerts
- Wearable tech - thinking about the future usage of new devices beyond watches and glasses and how to market via app notifications
- Human engagement - creating content for users first, not search engines
- Authors - ranking content based on who wrote it, not just where it was published, long live authorship!
- Knowledge graph - Google’s continued roll-out of vertical search across key sectors
- Semantic search - smarter identification of keyword modifiers, topical relevancy and category driven human intent signals
- Sentiment analysis - analysing the positivity of content in order to quality score rankings and links
- Expect the unexpected - I’m sure they’ll be new penguins, pandas, platypuses etc to keep us on our toes!
What’s your biggest prediction for organic marketing in 2015 and why is it important?
Biggest prediction for organic marketing, is for greater integration with paid media.
Paid search has always been much more measurable than organic, but the growth of social advertising is huge - especially given the targeting options available to marketers. Likewise content distribution channels provide a great reach to really push content much further - as content become more creative and data becomes more measurable, I’d expect to see the paid budgets shift more towards the promotion of campaigns.
Lastly, if you were Google what would you do to improve quality and search results?
I do believe Google are on a good track with improving the quality of search results -it’s an unenviable task being a referee in any sport, that’s essentially what Google is to businesses online. But SEO is now very much about building a strong user experience for people. That may sound obvious, but it hasn’t always been that way - and search engines are now secondary towards engaging with and building your audience, which is how it absolutely should be.
I wrote an article 18 months ago on how I saw human engagement becoming Google’s biggest ranking factor - this is something I’d certainly expect to see improve in more so over the next 12 months. You can learn a lot, if not more, from Google’s failures too - and authorship would have to be placed in that category. However, it does show you what Google are trying to achieve, by ranking content by popularity and author authority, not just where it was published. So authorship might be dead, but publishing high quality content from authority writers certainly isn’t - and if you were only doing this for SEO in the first place, you were doing it wrong anyway.
Where do YOU see organic search heading into 2015?
(Image credit: www.googleplussuomi.com)
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