In 2014 the SEO industry was almost unrecognizable from that of 2011 and the earlier years, and in 2015 we will witness even more changes introduced to the industry’s best practices and the way in which SEO campaigns are executed.
The following is a list of predictions for the year 2015.
SEO will be more and more reliant on technical elements while search rankings will be driven by content marketing.
It wasn’t so long ago when the terms SEO and content marketing were interchangeably used by many. Because of the extensive overlap between the two, this doesn’t surprise anyone. In 2015, however, SEO will be seen as a term that encompasses online marketing and the technical components associated with it. Content marketing, on the other hand, will be the key search engine rankings driver.
SEO will retain its role as an indispensable content marketing subset that deals with meta tags, keyword research, penalty recovery and indexing issues, while content marketing will mainly influence search visibility. Those businesses that rely on SEO but lack a strong plan for content will be unsuccessful. As a result, they will be required to focus primarily on the generation of high-quality and appealing content to ensure significant visibility in search results.
– Websites that do not meet user expectations and are not mobile SEO optimized are bound to fail.
In last year (2014), Google placed a lot of weight on mobile usability and this has become increasingly obvious for many businesses. We have also witnesses Google using mobile-friendly icons next to results from searches and adding a section for mobile usability in Google Webmaster accounts to enable users to observe the performance of their websites on mobile devices. It also isn’t a secret that Google has started penalizing websites generating errors for mobile users for over a year now.
– Citations and mentioning brands will become as effective as links.
Because of the widespread abuse and misuse of link building, it appears that Google is placing more weight on citations and brand mentions for the reason that these are not so easily manipulated with the idea to achieve a higher rank in search results. In 2015 we will observe more businesses tracking and measuring nofollowed links and brand mentions.
– After the failed experiment Google+ Authorship, Google will put more emphasis on social signals from Facebook and Twitter.
During the past two years, social media and SEO experts have tried to push businesses to have visible presence on Google Plus. In particular, they tried to promote Google Authorship as they believed it has big importance for both improving the content click-through rate in the result pages of the search engine and securing high search rankings. However, in August of 2014 Google announced that their Authorship program has come to an end, mainly due to low adoption rates. It appeared as though the program wasn’t as useful to their users as they have hoped.
There have been a lot of speculations during the years of whether Google puts emphasis on social signals in its page rank algorithm. This has sparked a healthy debate. Although Google has denied the claim that it uses social signals in its algorithm for ranking pages, studies have shown strong connection between rankings and social signals.
Regardless of such claims, many still believe that ranking algorithms pay attention to social signals, and there is a strong evidence supporting the belief. In my opinion, it doesn’t really matter if current ranking algorithms account for social signals as in 2015 these will become a very important part of the ranking algorithm without a doubt.
– Rankings in search engines will rely more on building relationships than following technical strategies.
Businesses have already realized that focusing only on creating a lot of content and performing a lot of technical SEO optimization work is not enough for achieving their goal. It became increasingly important for businesses to be able to bring a social element to their brand. The importance of such a factor will only grow in 2015 and those brands that realize it will stand out from the rest.
Focusing on technical compliance will not be enough to achieve high search rankings. It is time for a change that accounts for relational strategies such as establishing relationships with brand advocates, building blogger outreach campaigns, engaging on social media and reaching out to influencers.
– One of the largest threats to businesses will be negative SEO.
Negative SEO is when some shadowy individuals build a vast number of spammy links pointing at the website of their competitors with the idea to lower the rank of the website in search results. This problem has been a serious threat for webmasters during the past few years, and it is my belief that negative SEO will have an even larger impact on businesses in 2015.
The only method so far for websites to distance themselves from such links is to disavow files from being taken into account. However, the process can take up to nine months, which means that negative SEO attacks could erase search visibility of websites and lead to catastrophic consequences for businesses.
– SEO will integrate with other marketing aspects and will no longer be isolated.
Up until now, many businesses have hired SEO consultants or companies or have had departments dedicated to SEO. However, times are changing and SEO, together with content marketing and social media all combine to accomplish the same goals. Thus, the three should be closely integrated to achieve success.
SEO will no longer be the most important factor for website ranking but rather a foundational component that will need to integrate will both the online and offline aspects of marketing to achieve its goals. Because of that, dedicated departments and SEO consultants will start to phase out of importance. There is already a shift from a “dedicated SEO consultant” towards “content marketing strategist”.
This doesn’t mean that SEO is coming to an end. It implies that social media and content marketing specialists will require deep understanding of SEO and related skill to become successful in their efforts.