Online Marketing & SEO Predictions for 2015
Here are my personal predictions for SEO in 2015. Regular readers of my blog won’t be surprised at what I’ve included. Outside of my list there could be a major development from Google, but only Google knows what it is. As a small business owner you must focus on what you can influence and control.
Diversify Sources of Traffic
I mention this constantly. This requirement hasn’t changed. I consult with businesses week in and week out who have placed all their faith in Google. You should ask yourself this question: Who is driving my online marketing? Is it you or do you allow Google to pull your business left, right and centre? You simply must have multiple sources of traffic. The look of the first page of the serps is changing incrementally, and you simply can’t rely on being able to sustain traffic from first page rankings. Google wants to exploit commercially as much of that first page as possible.
Think of having multiple sources of traffic as a form of business insurance, which it surely is. When Google sneezes you don’t want your business to catch a cold. Hand in hand with diversification is an understanding of the ROI for each stream of traffic. Analytics and analysis are essential to support budget management.
Online success was never about Google rankings. Rather it’s measured by what your visitors do.
Social Media Marketing
Social media already influences search engine rankings. However Google’s desire that businesses “keep it real” will lead, in my view, to social media being even more important to support rankings. From your businesses point of view developing or maintaining a social media presence will become even more important for branding and sales. On the face of it, these days new businesses don’t even need a website to get started. But I would add that a business doesn’t need to be operating across many social media platforms – find out what works in your sector. Social media activity rather than a website is a small business’s best source of differentiation. Your business will need a good understanding of its audience and how social media works. You also need to have interesting things to say. If you do, people will link to you.
By the end of 2015 the absence of a social media presence will simply undermine your other online activity and it’s the most cost-effective way to develop your brand.
Getting Mobile is a Must
By about 2015 those accessing the internet using mobiles will outnumber all other platforms. No business sector will be left untouched by this development. Don’t be under the impression that this is only for B2C businesses – it’s not. By now you should be able to determine the amount of traffic you’re getting from mobile devices. If you’re not getting any or not much then you may well be working with a site that pre-dates HTML5. But there’s so much more to this topic than simply having a mobile compliant website. Are you providing information that people are searching for? Has your business begun to exploit Apps?
Now Google Mobile search is still some way behind the main search engine but it’s catching up all the time. It’s hard to believe Google isn’t making this a priority. This investment will bring further opportunities for businesses who take mobile search and social media seriously.
Writing for Real People
In 2015 and beyond customer psychology, rather than keywords are going to drive content. You can see it happening already.
Does your content move people? It doesn’t have to make people laugh or cry, but it should make them feel something. Google never did want webmasters and business owners to write for search engines. And with the removal of keyword data, it’s become essential to write with your customers and prospects in mind.
Google is now predicated on semantic search. I’ve been encouraging clients to write around topics rather than keywords for about 18 months. Google can now bring visitors to your site based on search queries rather than on the basis of pattern matching keywords. This means content has to cover the answers to the queries. With keywords no longer a useful guide, the only way to create meaningful content is by writing for your customers and prospects.
But of course even Hummingbird has limitations. While it can handle semantics it doesn’t have the human ability to build associations with different words nor does it have access to the mental models people do. This is where your customer research and customer personae are essential. And you also need to remember that while a particular position on a page my help you get the click, it’s the searchers emotional response to what you write that gets them ordering or picking up the phone. If you only write for Hummingbird your content will be very boring.
You may well ask what you do with all the keyword-driven pages on your site or blog. I would focus on ensuring your key pages (not posts) meet the new content criteria.
There have been significant changes to Google Adwords in the last year. I now think it’s very hard for non-professionals to run accounts of any size. But putting that to one side for a moment, I do think businesses should be take advantage of both Facebook’s Remarketing offer and Adword’s. Remarketing allows you to serve up targeted ads to people who have visited your web page. You can even develop ads for people who have added products to your shopping basket but not purchased. In my view, more businesses will exploit remarketing because of its ability to advertise to people who have already shown an interest in your product or service. This is more cost effective than just about anything else you can do. The Facebook product is relatively new but by the time next year will have become a must do for Facebook advertisers.
The HTTPS issue isn’t going away anytime soon. While it’s only currently a small ranking factor Google has already said this position may change in the future. I would take that as a definite “Yes” rather than a “Maybe” and would encourage any business owner reading this to make the change. It’s effectively a free gift from Google and they don’t come along that often.
Author Rank / Credibility
I’ve just written a piece on this but I want to return to it here in my selection of what’s going to be important in 2015. Google is effectively an index of everything on the web. It makes sense that the source of material (the author) may have some influence on trust and therefore rank. Although this is currently only rolled out for “In-Depth Articles”, I am confident it will be expanded. Google wants to know who is writing your content. Therefore you should make it easy for it to determine author identity. Authors should build up online profiles – but in a sensible way, restricting themselves to credible online platforms and off-line activities – there’s more than one way to build credentials.
Light Touch SEO
As we move towards 2015, if your SEO consultant / agency, is still talking to you about keywords and linkbuilding it might be time to walk away. SEO has evolved into something far more psycho-socially driven where links are a product of other activity – especially what you do with your social media accounts. Customer personae, whereby you build up comprehensive pictures of your customers and their online behaviours yields the best results even if there is some effort in doing so.
You can also read my follow up to this article – https://carrieannsudlow.co.uk/marketing-your-website-in-2015-part-2/