SEO professionals have to keep up with evolving practices as search engines and consumer technologies change. Anyone relying on outdated SEO strategies will likely fail their clients. To get the most out of your efforts, you need to understand the state of SEO in 2015 and the trends that will lead to success.
Changes in Search Engine Matrices
Old content that performed well will likely see decreased traffic in 2015. Search engines are changing their matrices to give users better results. This has been difficult in the past when bots only knew how to recognize a few characteristics that could indicate usefulness. Now, search engine developers know a lot more about what people want and how to optimally rank pages so that useful sites appear first.
Changes in the SEO Industry
Traditionally, SEO professionals have used research tools to find, group, and rank keywords. Then they built content around the most popular keywords and phrases. That doesn’t work very well today.
Instead of focusing on keywords, SEO experts need to focus on user intent. This requires a lot of creative thinking and experience. When someone wants to adopt a dog, for instance, that person may search for keywords like:
In the past, each of these keywords would have benefitted from its own page. Today, readers and search engines largely understand that these words have similar meanings. Instead of writing a page for each, it makes more sense to include them in a useful article that gives readers actionable information about where and how to adopt a dog.
Once you understand this, you can concentrate on what really matters instead of wasting time on strategies that may backfire.
SEO is Just One Part of Content Marketing
Most old school SEO professionals saw a distinction between search engine optimization and content marketing. The division has eroded considerably. Today, SEO and content marketing must work together to reach larger audiences.
Popular search engines like Google and Yahoo! have caught on to unfair SEO practices. Since search engines are more interested in serving users than businesses, developers have found ways to penalize black hat practices such as using invisible text, stuffing content with keywords, and inserting unrelated keywords into text.
Today’s SEO cannot replace good content. It can, however, support good content.
Instead of starting your next marketing campaign with a list of keywords, hire someone to write professional content that’s interested and informative. As long as you have great content, you can use SEO to improve visibility online.
As readers and search engines become more sophisticated, they have learned that content is more useful than keywords. Keywords aren’t completely unimportant, but they’re no longer the focus of increasing traffic and converting traffic to sales.
Using Keywords to Your Advantage
Keywords aren’t as fundamental to success as they were a few years ago. Still, knowing how to use them now can affect your business’s visibility and popularity.
Many SEO professionals still spend too much time trying to find the perfect keyword frequency. Recent changes to Google Search makes keyword frequency less important than it was just a year or two ago. Google has become so sophisticated that it understands the similarities between phrases like “animal shelter” and “dog pound.” The new Google will likely lump those pages together even though they have different keywords.
Keyword placement, however, has become more important. You can help bots find your content by including title tags and headers in your website structure. Google cares more about finding “animal shelter” once in the title tag than five times in the content. In fact, keyword stuffing can make sites look spammy, which encourages Google to lower their rankings.
SEO and Content Trends That Will Define Success in 2015
Knowing that these and other changes will affect how websites and companies, it’s important to know what will define success in 2015. Some key trends include the following.
1. Optimize for Mobile
More people than ever use their smartphones to access the Internet. As this trend continues, websites that optimize for mobile will prevail while those that do not will lose traffic.
2. Engage with Readers and Followers
Today’s consumers expect to communicate with businesses via social media. Use social media to engage with readers and followers. You’ll improve customer services while learning more about what your target market wants.
3. Make the Most of Local SEO
Local SEO is crucial for companies that have storefronts in one or more cities. Use it to stand out from local competitors.
4. Quality Over Quantity
Search engines are getting better at ranking sites according to quality. Focus on giving readers quality content that will make your site an authority on certain subjects.
5. Make SEO Critical to All Marketing
Don’t think of SEO as a set of strategies that you use to promote your website. Think of it as strategies that can improve the visibility of all marketing campaigns. Include keywords in Facebook posts and tweets. Place relevant keywords near the beginnings of headlines. Structure all of your sites so search engines can index them efficiently.
6. Focus SEO Keyword Efforts on Headlines and Tags
Never stuff keywords into an article or blog post. Readers find it unappealing and search engines often assign lower rankings to sites that use this black hat strategy. Instead, focus on how and where you use keywords. Always use your most important keywords in title tags. You should also try to put keywords at the beginnings of your headlines.
Try to fit keywords into as many domain URLs as possible. It’s useful for readers and search engine bots.
7. Relationships Matter
Search engines still use links to decide which pages are more useful than others. If 100 pages link to an article about dog adoptions, it will usually get ranked higher than an article with one inbound link. Since websites have become more aware of branding, it’s harder to get them to link to content. It’s better to build a relationship by writing guest posts, sharing information, and posting comments on the social media profiles of sites you respect.
Effective SEO strategies change frequently. That’s why it’s important for professionals to keep learning about the latest developments. Those who stay on top of these changes have more success at increasing traffic, improving brand identity, and converting visitors into paying customers.