The start of the new year is the time when Internet marketers across the world take stock of industry trends and make predictions about the year to come. Unsurprisingly, many of the predictions this year have to do with adjustments in search engine optimization, the ever-changing subset of marketing on which many businesses rely for traffic and leads.
“Yesterday’s rules are gone,” Brett Relander wrote simply for Entrepreneur Jan. 6.
However, he clarified that that doesn’t mean SEO is dead altogether. It simply means that marketers must stay up to date on the latest iterations of SEO, in order to keep their clients ranking well in search engine results.
Relander (and others in his field) suggest that authoritative content will be the most successful contributor to SEO in 2015. “[M]arketers must shift their focus toward the creation of relevant and newsworthy content,” he wrote.
One of the reasons this is so important is that the ultimate goal is to get powerful “influencers” — people the search engines respect as giants in any given industry — to share content.
This will become vital as SEO adapts to account for activity taking place directly on social media sites. In his Jan. 6 SEO forecast on Moz, Rand Fishkin predicted that “Google’s indexation of Twitter will grow dramatically, and a significantly higher percentage of tweets, hashtags and profiles will be indexed by the year’s end.”
This will move the significance of content off on-site blogs and onto social networks.
Relander recommends that anyone attempting to create content for SEO purposes focus on developing in-depth knowledge of the topic, bring something novel and original to a larger discussion, and invest in well-written and carefully crafted content.
“In the past, marketers tailored their SEO strategies to Google’s algorithms at the expense of user experience, but this can’t be the case anymore,” Carolina Di Pietro wrote for Business 2 Community Dec. 29. As ranking algorithms have improved, they’ve become better at assessing pages similarly to how a human user might. That means that details of code will be less impressive than a well-organized, easy-to-use site.
Mobile optimization, too, feeds into a search engine’s perception of a good user experience. “You can’t get away with not providing mobile experience in 2015,” Di Pietro wrote.
Entrepreneur reported in 2014 that mobile Internet usage had surpassed desktop usage for the first time, and Google and Bing have both responded by giving preferential treatment to responsive or mobile-optimized sites.
Mobile optimization can support strong performance in other areas used as ranking signals, too. For example, a site that isn’t mobile friendly is likely to have a high bounce rate, leading to a negative impact on rankings.
As Relander, Di Pietro and many others who have chimed in on the topic in the past week have pointed out, these changes are positive ones for most marketers and businesses. Essentially, this is because the roles of SEO experts and traditional marketers are being merged.
“SEO in 2015 will depend on long-term strategies and audience engagement,” wrote Di Pietro. “You need to move beyond the formulaic aspects of SEO and focus on the big picture.”
Relander’s approach has the same benefits.
“When visitors see your content and are able to learn more about you, they will feel as though they are developing a relationship with you. They learn to trust you,” he wrote. “As a good marketer knows, it is always easier to make a sale when the consumer trusts you.”
“With the increase in searches being moved to tablet and smartphone devices, we see trends toward local citation sites as well as mobile friendly searches as being one of the keys in 2015,” says Steve Taplin, CEO, SEO Experts.