SEO is a constantly evolving game. Although the basic ethos behind SEO remain the same and will always be, the strategies are likely to change as we move to the new year. With Google’s updates and constant algorithm changes, it is important for us to focus on the best practices. At RankHigher.in, we have been working on over 15 websites and we have tried and tested several strategies which have worked and which are likely to gain further momentum. Here are our predictions of top 20 SEO trends for 2015.
SEO Trends 2015
1. SEO will be more difficult
If anyone tells you that he/she will rank you in two months, it likely that the person is unaware or is taking you for a ride. SEO is a waiting game. Gone are the days of quick churn websites that could rank in a matter of weeks. If you are in business for the long haul, treat SEO as a long term strategy and not as a short term campaign. If you need quicker results, focus on PPC or Social Media channels instead.
2. PBNs and High PR backlinks will be difficult.
You will hear lot of top notch SEOs talk about Private Blog Networks of high PR sites from which they get backlinks. This technique is working well and is likely to work even in 2015. However, odds are most SEOs will get it wrong. Google is getting smarter at detecting PBN footprints. So if you are really careful, your PBN will still work. But the best practise is to diversify your link building efforts and not solely depend on PBNs. Blogger outreach and guest blogging are good link building techniques. However, as these 2 techniques will take time, this will in all likelihood increase the time frame of your SEO results.
3. Long form content will rule (Blog, blog and blog)
Content is king. And Google can only read textual content effectively. So keep writing long form content. Focus on excessive blogging. Write blogs around 2000 words. Google is likely to give you SEO benefits. This will also give you traffic benefits from long tail keywords.
4. Mobile Optimisation will be important
Google itself has emphasised its increased focus on mobile. And unfortunately too many businesses do not have a mobile responsive site yet. Wake up folks! You cannot procrastinate any further. Ensure that you make your site mobile responsive. Increasing number of people are using mobiles and tablets to search on Google. And there is a high degree of correlation between high bounce rates and non responsive sites. Google tracks this data and is likely to penalise you for this.
Google added a new feature to find mobile friendly website for mobile searchers. Prior to this, a month back, a new feature was added in webmasters tool to check the mobile usability. All these signs show that Google is going to support mobile friendly websites only.
5. Focus on Performance of Websites
Google has stated that every slow loading website affects the number of searches a user makes on Google. This hurts Google’s revenue. So focus on getting your sites to load below 2 seconds. Do not have a page size above 500 KB. Get a good technical team to complete revamp your site’s architecture and hosting infrastructure.
6. Keyword Research will still remain the key
This is the heart and soul of any SEO effort that you do on your website. Spend hours brainstorming and finding the right keywords. Use Keyword planner, Google instant, wordstream and any other tool that throws at you various keyword combinations. Spy on your competition to see which keywords they are targeting. The better you do your keyword research early on, the results will be faster and more beneficial. Focus more on long tail keywords. This will account for 70% of your traffic.
7. Increased Importance of Social Signals (Bookmarking and social media)
We have tested this and we can say for sure that Google is already giving importance to social signals. Instead of solely focussing on backlinking, try to use various social bookmarking sites to bookmark your web pages. Also use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and LinkedIn to your advantage. Social Networks not only give you immediate visitors, but also if those visitors like your content, they will naturally link to them.
8. Domain Authority and trust will play a more crucial role in ranking
Google has stopped updating PR. Infact there was no PR update in 2014. A tell-tale sign that the whole concept of high PR website will go out of the window. Instead focus on high domain authority and page authority of a website. Open Site Explorer and Majestic SEO both give their versions of Domain strengths. In 2015, this will likely to be the parameter to analyse competition.
9. Google “Sandbox” period exists and will likely to play a bigger role in the future
Any site post 2014 February has likely seen the effect of Google sandbox. Previously if you bought a new domain, you could rank your site within weeks by giving a bunch of high PR backlinks. However, this is not likely the case any more. In fact, from 2015 sandbox is likely to be more. This is Google’s way of trying to ward off spammy websites. Typically you will see sandbox hurting you when you are on page 2.
10. Technical flaws will be more paramount
I have recently recovered a site which almost vanished from Google search results. When the site which was on the second page of Google, vanished from ranking one fine day, I was left red eared and had no clue what went wrong. There was no manual webspam on webmasters. I was closely monitoring the site and did not see any spammy action been performed. On deeper analysis I figured out that one of the plugins was corrupted because of which Google kicked the site out. My prediction - technical flaws will be highly detrimental to SEO in the coming year.
11. Focus on other search engines
This will depend more on the country in question. For example, in the US, there is an increase in the usage of search engines such as Yahoo, Bing and duckduckgo. So you might want to focus your energies on other search engines to account for additional traffic. These search engines however will hardly matter in countries like India where Google is predominant.
12. Authority is the name of game
Build sites that even your grandchildren can be proud of. Do not look at small microsites any more. Create clean web properties with tons of content. Add value to your users in some way. This is the only lasting trend for the years to come.
13. Focus on Local
We can’t stress on this enough. If you search on Google from your mobile, you are likely to see a bunch of Google local listings showing up on top. And in most cases, users will contact these businesses which are showing as local listings. And this trend is going to continue in the future. So, focus on local as much as possible in 2015. Create a Google Plus page for your business. Verify your local address on Google Map. Businesses have seen an increase in store walk-ins after customers discovered them on Google map.
14. Using SSL may not impact your rankings
If you have been following all Google announcements, you probably would have heard of SSL (HTTPS sites as opposed to HTTP). This is unlikely to be a strong signal for SEO in the coming year. If you are competing with someone who is using an SSL and you do not have, then chances are the other website will outrank you in SERP, if everything else is equal.
15. Duplicate content, thin content will hurt you more in 2015
If you have been following all the updates from Google, you would know by now that gone are the days of thin content and duplicate content. This trend is likely to get even stronger. Whatever loopholes are there in Google’s algo to detect bad content is likely to get better in 2015.
16. Exact Match Tags and URLs are likely to do better
We have tested this in 2014 and we feel this is likely to continue in 2015 as well. Given all else equal, a site that has an exact matching domain or exact matching URL and exact matching title tag is likely to better in SERP than the ones who do not have. Although Google had an EMD update, yet we have seen EMDs doing better than other websites, if everything else is equal.
17. Be more vigilant of your backlink profile
As the web becomes a marketplace for content and every business becomes a media house, it is but natural to attract lots of backlinks. Always be checking your backlinks and disavow any suspicious ones coming from foreign language domains.
18. Focus on Growth Metrics more
Obsession over ranking may not lead you anywhere given SEO is becoming more of a long term strategy. Therefore in 2015, as a webmaster your focus should be on metrics such as visitors, conversions, leads, bounce rates, session duration, etc. and how those metrics improve over time.
19. Content Marketing will complement SEO
As companies wake up to the the need of creating content, 2015 will see a trend in distributing the content. Therefore content marketing is going to play a key role in your SEO strategy. Infographics, images, videos as well as textual content are all various forms of content that will generate tons of visitors. Distribute content across various platforms where your users are present. Draw them to your brand.These activities will complement your SEO efforts.
20. Don’t rely solely on Search Engines
Although this may sound counterintuitive to the topic of this article, yet in 2015 and years beyond, every webmaster should realise that web has opened up a plethora of channels to find customers. Therefore it is better to diversify your efforts across different channels. This will give you better results and will limit your risks.
We have heard many people ranting about SEO being dead. But amidst all the naysayers, when the dust of distrust settles down, it becomes obvious that SEO still is one of the most effective ways of getting targeted visitors to your website. Social Media may attract lot of noise, but SEO will not. Therefore, in 2015, have a focussed plan with your SEO strategies and try to reap the benefits that search engines have to offer.
What do you think are the SEO trends in the coming year? Do share your thoughts below.