2014 could well be termed as a subtle uneventful year in SEO. Although, long awaited Penguin and Panda updates were released by Google, both had their teeth removed. The changes to the algorithm was more evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Pigeon update also made its way to the release cycle.
So, does this mean SEO is now a mundane realm with predictable trends. Its quiet the opposite actually. It simply means that ‘algo’ changes are now more discrete and difficult to predict and analyze. Webmasters are sitting on the fence longer. We are now 2 months into 2015 and its time we make public the factors that still hold value.
Emerging Trends for SEO in 2015
Work on Mobile Traffic
This one’s a no brainer. This factor has influenced search market for 2-3 years now. With mobile screens almost on the verge of surpassing desktop screens, its time content is created for the mobile users right from the start.
Needless to say, responsive websites have to pave the way forward. Google has always acknowledged that responsive design provides a more fluid experience to users on the go. The ‘mobile-friendly’ notation in websites are a huge plus for marketers resulting in improved conversion rates.
Increase in bandwidth speeds mean that heavy mobile websites with flash animations and video content, which were a strict ‘no-no’ a few years back, are now finding a solid footing again.
Go Beyond Google
Google is still the search king, there’s no doubt about it. But 2014 gave us the hint that people are now exploring other search engines. And this trend is definitely going to grow in 2015. Firefox kicked out Google and chose Yahoo as their default search provider. Safari browser is also due for renewal in 2015 and both Yahoo and Bing are competing fiercely.
With their user base increasing manifold, optimizing for DuckDuckGo, Bing and Yahoo may well pay off good returns. So, multi-search engine visibility will definitely be a plus factor in SEO in the upcoming months. Limited competition and more transparency means that you can rank your website easily.
Wake Up Call for Keyword Ranking Metrics – Its Time for ROI Metrics
If you are still rating your website’s success on the basis of keyword ranking reports, its time you change this pattern. Keyword positions don’t actually depict the real conversion rates. ROI focused conversion figures better represent the true cost-benefit advantage of the SEO. Just targeting a useless keyword and working hard to get it ranked isn’t going to get you a fair deal anymore. Rather focus on how many dollars were spent and how many came back.PDF ranking reports are passe. It is time you ask how much money’s worth are you receiving back.
Optimize your Site for One Topic or Keyword
The days of sprinkling your website with diverse keywords are numbered. Its recommended that you optimize your site using 1 topic as central theme. Keywords are not going to lose their importance but the flow should be more coherent with respect to one topic. Elements such as image alt text, headings, title and descriptions should definitely contain keywords. The content must focus on humans rather than search engines.
Descriptive URL Structure
Keep a descriptive and short URL structure that allows easier categorization of your website. Its no surprise that search engines make use of URL to determine page rank and thus they should be easily ‘crawlable’. Short URLs are also good from the UX point of view and helps insert the keywords organically.
Use static URLs instead of dynamic URLs. They are easier to understand and have more keywords. 404 errors and broken links also harm search engine rankings. Reduce the excessive number of outbound links from your pages.
HTTPS Vs. HTTP
The web is becoming increasingly insecure with more and more digital theft incidents being reported from every corner of the globe. HTTPS is one step in the direction to make websites more secure. Google now emphasizes on using HTTPS or Hyper Transfor Protocol Secure. It provides higher levels of encryption thereby increasing the website’s security credentials. Most importantly, it now features in Google’s ranking factors. If you can easily transfer to HTTPS, by all means, go ahead.
These are the gold standard for links, coming from mentions of your company by the media, as well as via op-ed or thought-leadership articles you write and publish on third-party sites. To succeed with the latter, you must understand the site’s audience, find a topic that’s interesting and not too promotional, and, when it’s published, share it on social media.
There are many more pointers a webmaster needs to take care of. However, whatever worked for you in 2014 will surely go on without many changes. So, its not like you have to take drastic steps in 2015. In all possible scenario, the year ahead will be more evolutionary in SEO senses. Craft a holistic strategy that is in sync with your business goals. Best of luck!