The only post you need in order to be ready for 2015 SEO trends…
Prepare for the following:
1. A review on what we had in SEO last year
2. My expectations for next year and what I think about every expectation
3. What thought-leaders believe will happen and what I think about their thoughts
4. The actual steps imonomy is taking to insure its SEO success
SEO in 2014
I don’t want to bore you too much with the past, so I am going to talk only about the 2 biggest things that happened, in my opinion.
Local SEO was such a buzz word in my business circles last year I actually thought that everyone was trying to target their next door neighbor. Many businesses have failed in planning ahead for this, and some did such an amazing job it transformed their business completely. If you are hearing about local SEO strategies for the first time I highly recommend reading 6 Local Tips For Small Business SEO Successby Wesley Young. Personally I never had to do any kind of Local SEO for imonomy, but it is a vital investment that every brick and mortar shop, or local restaurant, must make.
Marketers and SEO became one. If you have been around the internet marketing world long enough, you will remember the days when SEO was considered some kind of dark magic spell that many marketing professional didn’t fully understand. In 2014 it became official that every person in marketing must understand the fundamental elements of good SEO, because SEO isn’t just about links; it’s about creating a message, and marketers must know how to create a good message in order to rank.
This, I should mention, works both ways. An SEO expert cannot wander the earth without knowing the basics of marketing. To be more precise, a good SEO expert cannot stay on top without becoming an amazing marketer.
My SEO expectations for 2015
Before I get into the real thick of things, I want to emphasize 3 important things. These important things might already be obvious to you, but I have to make sure you are up to speed on these facts.
1st Fact: Google knows to identify when your trying to write for SEO purposes or when you are trying to actually provide some kind of added value to your readers.
2nd Fact: Google AdWords isn’t giving you all the data you need, you can’t build on it as your one and only tool anymore for deciding which keywords will bring you from zero to hero.
3rd Fact: Unique content isn’t just “a new set of words” you need to bring some tools to the table, I have talked about some great tools in the past (mostly visual ones). If you need to read about what tools you can use just hop onto the post 10 free tools for creating infographicsto pick your weapon of choice.
What to expect when you are expecting…
Expectation #1: You will need to answer questions in order to rank higher
If you are a frequent Google Search user you might have noticed that Google is trying to be the one place to get answers for everything. Now you might say that Google has been doing this for a long time, but if you look at the screenshot below you will understand what I actually mean.
As you can see, Google is trying to give you a straight answer, much more than it is trying to give you a link to answers. What is important to take from this is that you can’t just write content about something everybody has already covered, you need to find an angle, solve the unsolved questions, and I dare to say that you even need to provoke new questions. In short remember: become a fountain of knowledge, only by creating knowledge you will create organic traffic for yourself.
Expectation #2: Constant updates
Gone are the days that you can fire and forget. I am assuming that Google will have to deal with all the people writing 2,000-6,000 words on a subject without ever going back to update it. Things change all the time; if I am writing a post about “The 10 best techniques to be a productive employee” then my tips need to pass the test of time. Also it is important to remember that in reality no tip on such a subject is going to last forever, I will therefore have to go back and modify that post if I want it to rank forever. Old posts that don’t answer current questions will slowly but steady completely disappear from search.
I expect that we will see in the near future many battles between new posts and old posts that are constantly adapting and changing. There isn’t one strategy that will win for sure, my advice is that you focus on creating new useful content while not forgetting the old content you published in the past.
Expectation #3: Mobile Mobile Mobile
If your site isn’t mobile friendly you have to leave this post immediately, fix it and come back. Mobile traffic and mobile apps are taking over the internet. To be honest, every non SEO/Marketing person I know is checking emails on their smartphone or tablet. Search engines understand this and if Google has recommended for you to fix your site to be mobile friendly in the past, then you should now be taking it seriously. Want to know if your site is running well on mobile? Check for yourself and also check in their tool PageSpeed Insights.
Another great way to understand your mobile traffic is to visit your analytic tools and check how many pages mobile visitors see in comparison to desktop visitors. Check the bounce rates, measure the time spent, work out whether you’re mobile users are getting the best from your site. I am not saying you are not supposed to see a difference, but if your mobile bounce rate is over 90% you should take that as a serious sign that your site is in need of change asap.
Expectation #4: Writers are not less important than content
Content quality will always stay important, but now the writers have become a key player in the world of search. If you want to improve your rankings on search your company blog should only host high quality guest authors with many social signals and a great reputation. Google checks to see whether your author is reputable on the topic they’re writing about, whether that is in the field of SEO or a medical expert. If you are going to be making the most of guest writers then ensure you can find their expertize elsewhere on the internet. Make sure that, whatever writer you bring in, that they keep their high level of work; don’t ever settle for a half baked blog post.
Expectation #5: Writing about you will be as important as links back to you
It’s not that I predict links to lose any of their power, I am just saying that a link isn’t the only thing that will matter in 2015. You need people to write about you as much as they link back to you. If someone just links to you without providing any added value I’m almost certain that a link like that will be worthless. Also, if that link feels “forced” it will hurt you, the writer and the site giving out that link. This means that if someone is going to link to your website, you need to ensure they’re writing something high quality to go along with it; from a review to an entire blog post based on your business. Keep in mind that you have to always be alert and disavow linksyou believe are hurting you. If you have no clue what disavowing back links is I highly recommend that you educate yourself on the subject here.
Rand Fishkin uploaded a presentation about how to crack the SEO code in 2015. I took the time to have a look through and sum up some of the main points he touches on:
1. No more one size fits all tactics. This means that each one of us is going to need to dig up and discover the SEO secret sauce that works in our niche.
2. To understand important keywords is to really understand the questions being asked on forums and on the web. Understanding what questions are currently being asked is a great way to plan how to capture new audience channels.
3. Content must be placed in a great UX, must provide information that is hard to get, and most importantly must be helpful.
4. Google doesn’t want to count the amount of links you can build. Google wants to count links that you can earn editorially.
5. Social shares impact SEO indirectly.
6. Content must tie to business goals and branding, otherwise most of your content will fail.
Nate Dame didn’t write a mind blowing post that is totally different, he looked at SEO pretty much like Rand. However, I have to give him credit for stating something that I personally highly recommend. He says that one of the only processes that doesn’t break is getting yourself as a content writer into a regular column. If you can source a high quality blog, that is relevant to your niche, then start getting your content onto it. This will build your reputation tenfold and create SEO opportunities that not everyone will get the chance to savor; a regular column is the cream of the crop.
What I agree with / Disagree with:
To be honest it is hard to even slightly disagree with half of what Rand is saying, as he has pretty much hit the nail on the head. One thing I think I can challenge is the way he views how to find the questions that people want answered. In general he says you should look what other people are asking and answer that, but my approach to this would be a bit different. If you can develop a semi-successful technique to predict what is going to be the unasked question, or more specifically if you can answer the question of tomorrow, you are bound to end up with positive long term SEO results. This doesn’t mean you are going to need a crystal ball, as good marketers have been predicting trends for years. What you will need, however, is a good idea of your niche and your buyers. By all means, look at the questions other people are asking, and then work out how you can expand on these; or, what comes next. This will ensure you are one step ahead of the game when it comes to getting those all important SEO results.
The biggest points I agree with from both Nate and Rand are the focus on editorial content. If you are going to succeed in SEO next year, the year after, and perhaps even a decade after that, you need to focus on getting your name out there. This means finding online publications that will give you the space for your own column, so that you can spread the word. By providing high quality content, on sites that appeal to your potential clients, you are not just winning new readers and/or buyers, you’re improving your SEO as well.
The Steps We Are Taking for SEO Success
Step 1: A corporate blog, with lots of added value – Of course, we have all understood the importance of a blog for SEO purposes, for quite some time! However, in order to insure our SEO success then it is vital imonomy creates a blog that is oozing with added value. We understand our niche and our corporate blog can provide the answers to the questions so many of our clients (or potential clients) are asking. The more added value our blog provides, the better it is for our clients and for our SEO results.
Step 2: Never releasing ‘paid for’ press releases – I think one of the most important SEO practices for 2015 is going to be finding editorials that are genuinely interested in our business. With this in mind, imonomy will not be paying for press releases that will never really have any value for us. Instead, we will be focusing our time and efforts on editorials that are interested in us. It ensures we can reach the right audience and also gives a big thumbs up to Google; we’re not paying to post our links everywhere, we’re doing things the right way.
Step 3: Focusing on speed and user experience – As mentioned earlier, mobile is going to be even bigger in 2015. This means that imonomy will have to continue to keep our sites running fast and provide a great user experience. Whether someone visits us on their desktop, tablet, or mobile, we want to keep those bounce rates down and those happy user numbers up. We already dedicate a lot of time and effort to ensuring our website is as optimized as it can be for a range of different devices, so we will keep up the hard work in this area.
Step 4: Only guest posting where it matters – On the same thread as never paying for press releases, we also want a keen focus on ‘where’ we post our guest articles. As they say, it is always quality over quantity and I think this has never been truer when it comes to guest posts. imonomy only wants to provide the information that people are looking for, in places where they will be looking for it. There is no point in us posting a unique article on SEO, on a website that focuses solely on how to bake cakes. I think that providing people with the information they need, in a place they visit often, is the key to guest posting success in 2015.
Step 5: Keeping ourselves up to date with trends – Lastly, there are so many key thought leaders in SEO that it would be madness for us to ignore what they are saying. If we want to stay ahead with the latest trends then we must keep up to date with all of the thoughts and recommendations from the leaders in the field. SEO thought-leaders such as Rand and Nate (see above) will provide me, and many others, with the ideas they need to push things forward in 2015.
I am hoping that you now have all of the tools you will ever need, to be prepared for your SEO efforts in 2015. You’ve been able to reflect on the previous year (and perhaps learn from some mistakes), and now you know exactly what to expect next year. Now all you have to do is put together your own plan of action and be prepared for new and exciting changes, for 2015.