It’s that time of year again, and everyone in the digital industry is embroiled in a fierce debate about what’s in store for search in 2015. None of us are oracles, but by taking a look at where we’ve been, we can pretty accurately predict where we’re heading (as long as Google doesn’t throw us a curveball just in time for the holidays, of course!). Danielle Haley, Co-Director at FSE Online Ltd, lists the four things likely to affect search marketers the most in 2015
Google is going to be tougher than ever on ‘black hat’ SEOs
2014 has been a pretty brutal year as far as algorithm updates go, with the Three Ps (Panda, Penguin and Pirate) having a game-changing impact on the SERPs, particularly in the last quarter. This was great news for SEOs who religiously stick to the rules (like ourselves!) but a real nightmare for search marketers who were still trying to rank sites quickly using out-of-date and potentially damaging tactics.
The general consensus is that Google is going to continue to crack down on spammy-looking websites and filter out those with thin content and weak, anchor-text-heavy link profiles. So if you still think you can get away with shoddy optimisation tactics, 2015 will be the year you’re doomed to fail. Round off the corners you’re used to cutting and bring your search strategy up to speed before it’s too late.
Catering for mobile customers won’t be an option, it’ll be a necessity
Mobile traffic is predicted to overtake ‘normal’ web traffic in 2015. An unprecedented number of web users are browsing from smartphones and tablets, so if your website isn’t rendered for these devices, you’re going to lose out. Big time.
All too often we find that companies forget about optimising their new website for mobile until it’s in late development. The key will be to incorporate mobile optimisation into your design and your digital marketing strategy from day dot. It may take a little more investment, but making sure that your site is readable and accessible from a wide range of devices will ensure you don’t lose sales to your more mobile-savvy competitors.
It’s going to be harder to produce web content that stands out
The phrase ‘content is king’ has been thrown around by search marketers for years now, so much so that it’s really starting to lose its effect. Content marketing has been done to death by SEOs who became writers overnight and approached their content strategy without much thought, leaving the rest of us having to swim through a deluge of low-quality web articles that quite frankly are taking up valuable space in the SERPs. This kind of drivel isn’t cutting it anymore, though. Google has wisened up to bad content and is using Panda to filter it out, and users are also able to quickly identify whether or not content is of value to them or has been created purely for the sake of a link.
The challenge for SEOs in 2015 will be to think outside the box and get more creative with their content strategies. Promoting your work effectively using as many different platforms as possible will widen its reach and make it work harder for your business – Outbrain’s Amplify service might inspire you.
More companies will want to bring their SEO in-house
This is a really interesting trend that we believe is going to grow enormously in 2015 as more companies realise that they need to increase their capacity for SEO if they’re going to achieve success that’s sustainable. Our agency, in fact, has received more requests for SEO ‘training’ in 2014 than in previous years. This signals to us that companies are not only looking to outsource their search activities, they want to help their staff develop a thorough understanding of what SEO entails and learn more about how they can aid their search performance in-house.
Because SEO is largely content-based these days, many businesses prefer to employ someone who has strong optimisation knowledge but also has their finger in the pulse when it comes to sourcing industry news and inspiration for blogs. This is particularly understandable if the business is in a very niche, or overly technical, market. Thanks to a quote from Eric Schmidtthat’s been doing the rounds on well-known search sites, it’s also believed that Google’s going to be introducing a kind of ‘Author Rank’ system, which is intended to award higher rankings to content that has been author-verified, so in-house bloggers could prove to be the way forward for companies that want to establish ownership of their work.
This won’t necessarily mean that the role of SEO marketers and search agencies will be compromised. SEO professionals will just need to adapt the way in which they deliver their services – many will need to learn to be more transparent with their work and adopt a more consultancy-based approach to meet the evolving needs of their clients.