Year after year we’ve heard gyan from SEO gurus about the strategies that are likely to trend that year and those that may sink without a trace. But then….Google God Disposes What SEO Man Proposes! All it takes is one update from Google to dispense SEO prophesies. Thus, we aren’t going any further into predicting about changes for this year; rather we’d focus on what we consider best SEO practices for 2015.
Pay Attention to Mobile SEO:
There have been a lot of rumors about Google planning to incorporate user experience as a ranking factor (http://searchengineland.com/google-may-add-mobile-user-experience-ranking-algorithm-205382). Mobile UX isn’t a ranking factor as of now, but the search engine giant has several reasons to do so in the near future. For one, mobile users are an important segment of Google’s user population. Mobile internet penetration in the US stood at around 65% for 2014 and is likely to touch 80% by year 2017. (Source: http://www.statista.com/statistics/284206/north-america-mobile-phone-internet-user-penetration/). This year comScore too reported that smartphone users reported around 55% of internet traffic in January. And it’s no longer about the US. Some countries like India may not command a sizable percentage of smart phone user population, but the sheer size in terms of numbers is mind numbing. The IMAI (Internet and Mobile Association of India) estimates that number of internet users was around 243 million last year. And that is only about 16% of the population! And if you’re wondering on the tools to help you understand mobile UX, here’s Barry Schwartz’s article on the Fetch tool http://searchengineland.com/google-webmaster-tools-adds-fetch-render-device-type-192551. Correcting mobile configuration errors, improving site speed, easy navigation (that includes using a readable font and incorporating an easy tap target), incorporating local mobile SEO, and keeping the design future simple are some of the simple things that contribute towards a great user experience.
Content Management is the Key:
It doesn’t take a genius to decipher that content is the key to SEO success. Google has made it amply clear that search rankings are tied to user experience. And this comes from content that’s focused on and is useful for the end user. Not that web owners do not understand the significance of meaningful content- an SEO survey by BrightEdge 2014 found that more than half of their respondents were willing to spend 25% more than their current budget only if they ‘knew what kind of content keeps customers engaged’. This probably explains the gap between SEO and content performance. As a solution to this, businesses can try to align their content and SEO team. They can train their creative team to optimize content when creating it as opposed to leaving the job of optimizing to an SEO specialist.
Revamp your Keyword Research Strategy:
The Hummingbird update was an eye opener of sorts for a lot of us who were tied to keyword based SEO. Research isn’t limited to a few top keywords; instead we’ve become creative about our keyword choice. Long tailed key phrases and conversational queries have a better chance of ranking compared to the earlier choice of keywords. Google’s policy of restricting keyword based SEO can also be deduced from the fact that it no longer reveals keywords that direct traffic towards your site. However, the Google Keyword Planner is still a relevant tool to know the number of monthly searches for the term. Not the Google, but other methods like the Bing and Yahoo based keyword search tools, the Google auto-complete, etc. are also effective. Search engines now look for synonyms of keywords and try to match the one that best suits your queries. Thus, ‘seconds car seller’, ‘used car sellers’, used vehicles suppliers’ would all fall in the same category as Google interprets all these queries in the same category and your site is likely to show up on search results even if you haven’t optimized for one of them. And there’s also the semantics factor. Although semantics haven’t been incorporated as yet, it is only a matter of time for Google to derive meaning from your search query.
But at the end of it is the fact that unless users are given a superior user experience, they’re not going to visit your site. And even if they visit, they’re not likely to stay longer, provided there’s something there for them.