Thanks to SEO being such a dynamic field, it's no secret that best practices are constantly evolving and changing each year, and 2014 was no exception. In 2015, we're going to see a few new strategies trump some of the "go to" SEO practices of the past. Below explains some of the methods that we're going to see differently in 2015 when it comes to SEO, with some becoming obsolete and others just becoming less important, along with a few important tactics that will remain the same:
- Mobile searches and traffic > Desktop searches and traffic
Mobile searches and traffic will be your priority over desktop searches and normal web traffic. According to a study by Nielson on behalf of Google, 74% of mobile users used a search engine during their everyday purchasing process, with 83% wanting to make a purchase that day, and 55% within the hour. This means that your small business needs to focus on optimizing for mobile, which includes having a responsive web design, creating a mobile sitemap, optimizing your embedded images and video, etc.
It's also important that you put a focus on mobile search metrics. Start paying more attention and spending your time analyzing what's working and what isn't working for mobile specifically. Even if you're not seeing a jump for your specific website right away, anticipate that mobile will trump your desktop traffic in the near future. Ultimately this is not to say that optimizing your website for desktops is not important, it just means you have to make changes when it comes to mobile considerations.
- Semantic search > Keyword targeting
Semantic search refers to one way that the Google algorithms are changing. Google is starting to put a larger emphasis on the fact that users generally search in a conversational tone, so context is going to be more important than the specific keywords someone types in the search query box. This means that you need to start thinking about search queries and focusing on the context around the keywords you use in your content. Are you using related terms? Are you using synonyms of your keywords instead of the same keyword over and over?
- Build Your Author Rank Now
Google always tries to identify ways in which they can provide their users the best search experience as possible. One way that they believe they can accomplish this is by providing a way to grade writers. They do this through the use of the rel=author tag which has been in use since 2012.
It used to be that the determination of content being ranked was highly dependent on the site in which it was written on, and it still is to some extent. However, Google believes that if a writer has a great following and produces content that many people find valuable/interesting, then that content should rank higher regardless of the websites overall authority.
So in 2015 if you want your content to rank in Google, build your author authority now. If you need to learn more about how to build your authority, you can do that here.
- Building Relationships not Links
This is something that was also important in 2014, but it's going to become necessary in 2015. Relationships are the new backlink. Blackhat SEO tactics are all but dead, thus leading many to figure out how to go about "earning" links.
Your goal for successful SEO should be focused on creating meaningful relationships with industry influencers. Reach out to them and ask for their opinions. Identify opportunities to praise their viewpoints. Follow them through social channels and like, retweet, or +1 their updates. Just like you would in person, people are more apt to help you if you show sincere respect and appreciation towards them.
- A secure website (HTTPS) > A non-secure website (HTTP)
We saw Google give a slight SEO boost to sites that were secure this past year. Even though it might only affect 1% of global searches, we can definitely see the writing on the wall that this percentage will likely increase. Google has publicly said that they encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.
Of course, there are still many SEO best practices that haven't changed and will not change in 2015. The question you should continue to ask yourself is: "How can I improve my website to offer more value to my visitors?" If you are continually working to do this, you will likely be rewarded as such in the Google search results.