7 SEO Trends You Need to Know Now
Even though search engine optimization (SEO) is less than 20 years old, it has evolved quite a number of times and still continues to do so. For example, Google’s search algorithms are updated on a continual basis, bringing changes that brands of all sizes must adapt to, if they want to stay in business.
In this article, I’ll share some tips and tricks that you can use to keep your brand ahead of those changes. But first, let’s start with a quick history lesson.
From quantity to quality
Just a few years ago, search engines were just search engines, in the most basic sense of the phrase. Google was a system than could be gamed. Search rankings were less complex, and the goal was to simply get visitors to the site. Traffic was king and all visitors were treated equally.
What mattered was quantity over quality. Essentially, SEO was a numbers game.
Today however, search engines–especially Google–are by far the closest thing to artificial intelligence that humanity has ever created. Keywords and rankings are becoming less and less important with each passing update, with the algorithm shifting the focus to value, education, and relevance. Simply put, if your content is trash, you might as well not write it. In fact, it’s even better not to write it; at least you won’t get penalized that way.
Today, SEO is a quality game. Quality of content, quality of backlinks, quality of traffic, etc.
Therefore, in each of these 7 trends that I’m about to share, quality (rather than quantity) is the focus. Okay, let’s check them out!
1. Write content for searchers, not search engines
This is your top priority, hands down. Great, valuable content that proves to be useful to users, will help you jump onto the first page of search results, more than your use of keywords, word length, images, or meta tags alone. However, all of these other SEO aspects are still important, because your content has to be found online to be rated useful in the first place. This is just a comparison for you to keep in mind.
Also, the opposite will never work. If you do your SEO perfectly, but people don’t find your content valuable (high bounce rates, low time on page, low shares via social media, etc.) you will be downgraded, no matter what. So focus on the content and make keywords a useful addition, but not the other way around.
2. Make your mobile experience better than your desktop experience
In December 2014, online mobile searches surpassed desktop searches for the first time in history. This ultimately means that more people are using their smartphones and tablets for web browsing than ever before and therefore it has become a very important point for Google’s algorithm. If your website is not optimized for mobile, it’s absolutely pointless to do anything else. So make sure this is settled before you proceed with your website promotion.
3. Be conversational, meaningful, and contextual with your answers
Since 2013, Google has prioritized content that is more engaging and conversational, as opposed to Wikipedia style “text heavy” content. This still rings true in 2015 and continues to grow. More and more people are using long tail, intentional keywords and are looking for meaningful, contextual answers. They don’t want to read long, complex articles that give them a lot of information, plus the answer that they are looking for; they just want the answer, right then and there. If you aren’t doing it yet, now is the time to think about conversational content, which answers specific questions precisely and to the point.
A great way to accomplish this is to use plenty of sub-headers, bullets, and lists. Boom! Now you’ve got something your readers can skim through.
4. Never go “full text”
Content consumption is shifting towards visual and interactive content. What this means is that those websites that have more relevant images, videos, infographics, etc. will be prioritized by Google and (in most cases) come before those that offer plain text.
Using animated GIFs is one of my favorite tactics for breaking up otherwise boring articles. Not that I’m calling this article boring. Uh, I’d never say anything like that….
5. Build social sharing opportunities into your content
A lot of attention should be given to social media recognition when it comes to SEO. As your content receives greater social impact over the web and gets more shares, Google will decipher it as useful for people, and therefore gain an edge in SEO rankings over other, not-so-social content.
Try using social sharing plugins (if you’re running on WordPress), or text-based calls-to-action that compel people to share your content with their friends.
6. Take online security very seriously
Online security and cybersecurity is becoming increasingly more important for brands in the 21st century. It’s not just the big brands that need to watch out for this stuff anymore.
You should invest in solid security plugins and monitoring systems for your site, and also, if you’re selling anything at all, make sure you’re using strong HTTPS encryption protocols.
Oh, and Google is starting to use this as a ranking signal, albeit a small one for now. As they’ve said on their blog:
…over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.
7. Measure your ROI ahead of rankings
Lastly, it’s important to prioritize your return on investment (ROI) over your search engine rankings. If you’re ranking on the first page of search results with a keyword or content, but getting little or no conversions, sales, or email subscribers from it, then it’s practically useless.
In this case, you should reconsider your content and SEO strategy and find out what it is that users actually want to get when searching for that particular keyword.
Getting to the first page doesn’t mean all that much anymore on its own. These days, you need to get found, and get the conversion if you want to survive and thrive.
Where to go from here
Well, that sums up my list of 7 SEO trends to watch out for in 2015. Is this a definitive list? Certainly not. Will this info change in the next six to eighteen months? Absolutely!
So keep testing, keep learning, and never get comfortable with your SEO efforts. When you’re comfortable, you’re going to fall behind. That’s probably the only thing that’s remained true about SEO since the very beginning.
As a final thought, I’d love to hear your take on these trends. What did I miss? Share your feedback with me on Twitter or in the comments section below!
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