Here are our top eight predictions on how SEO will change and evolve throughout the next few years.
SEO and the best practices in order to maximise the search engine rankings for your website have evolved and changed dramatically over the past two years, with Google placing increasing emphasis on quality content, mobile optimised websites and site speed/performance to name but a few, and we can expect that this will only continue.
Here are our top eight main predictions as to how SEO will change and evolve:
1. Customer reviews to become increasingly important for SEO
There are a number of third party review sites that allow you to build consumer trust and confidence by housing your client/customer reviews. In addition to this, a number of these review sites, such as Reviews.co.uk and TrustPilot, are partnered with Google, enabling your average customer and product review ratings to be incorporated into the organic and paid search results. This carries obvious SEO benefit in that it helps your paid search ads and organic listings to stand out amongst the competition, improving your click-through rate, and thus driving more traffic to your website from search. This is a must-consider addition in particular to any e-commerce digital marketing strategy.
2. Paid Search will become harder to ignore
At SOZO, whilst we prefer to concentrate our SEO efforts primarily on the organic search results for our clients, we also find paid search to be a great avenue for acquiring a high volume of targeted visitors to your website within a short timeframe. It is also great for A/B testing of new page designs or for pushing particular products or services.
Google is constantly striving to enhance its paid search experience through Google Adwords, and 2014 saw a host of enhancements and opportunities for businesses to maximise paid search efforts, such as the introduction of Callout Extensions, which allows additional USPs to be incorporated into your search ads. Expect many more changes and enhancements like this to paid search in the next few years.
3. Devise a “content marketing” strategy for your website
Keeping your website up to date with regular and engaging content has become a driving force for maximising search engine rankings, and we expect this to become an increasing factor throughout 2015. SEO is still a crucial aspect of any digital marketing strategy, however we expect to see the term SEO associated more so with the technical requirements for creating a search engine friendly website i.e. META refinements, Image ALT/Title tags, SEO-friendly HTML markup, internal links, etc. However we predict that “content marketing” will increasingly become the main and ongoing driving force for improving search engine rankings.
4. Enhanced ranking signals based on user experience
Alongside content marketing, we firmly believe there is still great need for the technical side of SEO. SEO is not just about improving search rankings, but also about maximising your visibility and ROI from search. Whilst META titles and descriptions may not directly influence rankings, they do help your pages stand out from the competition in the search results, so they’re still vitally important, and still so often overlooked by many businesses.
The loading time of your website pages has been a ranking factor in Google since 2010; 2012 saw further improvements to the Page Layout algorithm (otherwise known as the “above the fold” algorithm”); and then the introduction of the “mobile-friendly” label in late 2014 for mobile optimised websites.
These are just some of the updates Google has introduced as ranking signals. Gone are the days of ranking purely based on how many times you mention a keyword in a page! Google is now much more intelligent, and we expect to see new and improved releases throughout 2015 for ranking signals based on user experience. Technical SEO is here to stay! Make sure your website loads as quickly as possible, keep primary content and keyword phrases “above the fold” on your pages, eradicate any errors/issues, and make sure website content is as accessible as possible to both users AND search engines.
5. No more rushed, keyword stuffed content!
Google has cracked down a lot over the past 12 months on duplicate and low quality content. SEO is no longer about keyword stuffing and churning out quick blog articles for the sake of ranking. Think about your audience first, and take time to create unique, engaging content, which incorporates an appropriate usage of keyword phrases relevant to the topic and to your digital marketing strategy. Keyword insertion is still important, but it shouldn’t dilute readability.
6. It’s more important than ever to ensure your website is mobile friendly
In November 2014, Google announced a new “mobile-friendly” label that would appear alongside search results for websites that were deemed to be mobile friendly. Having a mobile friendly website can therefore help to improve your click-through rate, and to stand out from the competition when visitors search via a mobile device. Google have also introduced new diagnostic tools via their Google Webmaster Tools platform for identifying and eradicating any errors/issues experienced when browsing a website via a mobile device. Make sure your website is fully optimised - ideally from the ground up - to cater for all modern mobile and tablet devices (often referred to as responsive web design).
7. Social media to have an increasing influence on search ranking
There is still a lot of debate in the SEO industry as to what extent social media influences search engine rankings. Nonetheless, social media can be a powerful marketing and brand awareness platform for businesses, regardless of whether or not there is a direct incentive for improving your search engine rankings. Could 2015 be the year we see individual tweets and Facebook posts incorporated into the Google search results? It is, after all, long overdue!
8. Decision time for Google Plus!
Google+ launched back in 2011, and to this day it simply hasn’t come close to the success of other social networks like Facebook and Twitter, particularly in the UK. Its unique selling point remains unclear compared to the likes of Facebook and Twitter, besides being a potential ranking factor (after all, it’s Google!). Our observations are that marketers and SEO experts have largely embraced it predominantly for the potential ranking benefit, most of whom appear to originate in the US.
At one stage, the Google+ Authorship integration, in which your author photo and byline sometimes appeared alongside your website pages and articles in search results was a welcome incentive for businesses to embrace Google Plus. However, Google ditched this back in August 2014.
So it’s decision time this year for Google Plus; aside from the potential ranking benefit, why should UK businesses invest more of their time and resources into this additional social network, and more importantly - is it here to stay?
With Google constantly changing and fine-tuning its algorithms and the ways in which it ranks websites, it’s more important than ever to adopt a proactive approach to your SEO, however, and digital marketing strategy. However, SEO shouldn’t exist by itself; it must be part of a greater strategy, which encompasses key areas of digital marketing, such as content marketing, social media, and enewsletter marketing.
At SOZO, we are constantly reviewing our digital marketing service to ensure we are at the forefront of the latest and best practices for maximising ROI for our clients from search; devising a comprehensive, tailored content marketing strategy that involves ongoing keyword research, blog/content topic suggestions, SEO copywriting and proofreading, competitor analysis, and more.
If you’re looking to maximise your sales/enquiries from search engines, and to stay ahead of the competition, then contact us today to find out how we can devise a tailored digital marketing strategy for your business.