The art of search engine marketing and SEO continues to develop as the market and technology changes and staying on top of the newest trends will help you get the most out of your internet marketing campaign. Google is always updating its algorithm which means that marketers have to adjust the way they research and implement keywords as well as other aspects of their marketing campaign that could affect their search engine rankings such as social signals, links, and local directories. The continued increase in mobile users is another major trend that will affect SEO practices in 2015. The following are important emerging SEO trends for 2015 that can help you improve your online marketing strategy.
Identify Your Target Audience
Identifying and knowing your target audience has always been one of the most important elements of marketing and even with the changing trends of SEO, this step is still extremely important. There are several tools available such as Google Analytics and analytics tools from third parties such as Twitter and Facebook that can help you identify where your visitors are coming from and even provide demographic information such as age, gender, geographic location, and other information about your audience. This information is very important because it not only gives you a better idea of who you should target, but also the keywords and topics that are most likely to appeal to your audience.
Shift Focus to Long-Tail Keywords
Traditionally, many of the keywords used for SEO purposes are one or two term keywords but Google’s Hummingbird update in 2013 changed the way Google analyzes keywords and keyword phrases. Since the Hummingbird update, Google now takes into account the entire search query instead of just the individual words to try and derive meaning from the query as a whole. Therefore, pages that can best provide an answer to the search query as an entire phrase will rank better than pages that only match up with a couple individual words.
Shifting the focus from short to long-tail keywords when doing your keyword research will help you discover more specific and relevant queries that will convert at a much higher rate than one or two term key phrases. The more specific language of long-tail search queries will help you stand out more from your competitors than the more generic short key phrases and drive more traffic directly to your website.
Another trend to keep in mind in regards to long-tail keywords is the use of conversational queries. Users on smartphones and tablets can enter a search query into their devices by speaking and normally do so in the form of a phrase or question. Understanding the conversational queries that your audience enters into their mobile devices can help you come up with more effective long-tail keywords and phrases.
Much like keyword research and identifying your target audience, competitor research remains an important part of a solid SEO plan. The purpose of SEO research is to determine what affects the ranking of your competitors and there are tools available that can help you analyze the off-page SEO of your competitors including blogs and quality links. By determining where the competitors in your industry are getting high-quality links, you can decide which authoritative publishers you should establish relationships with to build links of your own and improve your website’s rankings. Building relationships with your audience and authorities in your industry is becoming a much more important aspect of SEO and it is through this relationship building and competitor research that you can find industry authorities to build quality links and networks.
Increasing Power of Links and Brand Citations
Link building is still one of the most important ways to improve your off-page SEO but the highest value is given to earned links. Gone are the days of link farms and paid links as the increased value placed on earned links encourages companies to create quality content that authorities in the industry would want to link to. Earned links also tend to be of higher quality so creating content with the intent of getting earned links can help you avoid too many low quality inbound links which can eventually lead to penalization from Google.
While earned links can be a big boost to your off-page SEO, Google is also placing more emphasis on brand mentions and citations. A citation is when your brand, products, or business information is mentioned on another website without a link back to your website. Brand mentions and citations can help boost your authority within your industry and because they cannot be as easily manipulated as links, Google is giving them more value in determining search engine rankings. Earned links and citations provide several SEO benefits including increased visibility and brand awareness, lead generation, and conversion rates to name a few.
The Effect of Social Signals
It has been speculated for years that Google incorporates social signals into their algorithms for search engine rankings but Google insists that the relationship between social signals and higher search engine rankings is due to correlation and not causation. Facebook and Twitter pages tend to rank pretty well and when they include interesting content that gets a lot of links, they do even better with their search engine rankings. Even though many studies have shown a clear link between social signals and improved search engine rankings, it cannot be known for sure whether Google actually accounts for social signals in their algorithm. What these studies do show though is that, whether by correlation or causation, social media is still an important aspect of SEO that can help generate links and traffic which will improve your ranking.
According to an article from Forbes, Google may start giving more value to social signals from Facebook and Twitter due to the failure of Google Authorship and Google+ to provide adequate SEO benefits. Once again this is tough to prove but many in the industry speculate that social signals from Twitter and Facebook will be given increasing importance in regards to search engine ranking.
Benefits of Local Directories
Local SEO is one of the fastest growing aspects of SEO marketing as the increased use of mobile devices has led to an emphasis on geographic focus. The main purpose of local SEO is to increase the visibility of a company’s location so that users searching with a geographic focus from their mobile devices can easily find this information. Companies should get listed on primary local directories such as Yelp as well as industry-specific local directories and fill out their location information completely along with a link to their website. This will help increase the visibility of your company on local searches within your geographical area and send potential customers directly to your website, leading to more sales.
The Growing Importance of Mobile Friendly Websites
The use of mobile devices for internet browsing and searches has continually increased over the past several years and in 2014, the use of mobile devices to access the internet exceeded the use of desktop computers. This makes having a mobile friendly design or a mobile version of your website more important than ever before. Google has already been experimenting with giving mobile-friendly websites labels that help boost search rankings while penalizing websites that perform poorly on mobile devices so there is every reason to believe that Google will continue to reward mobile friendly websites moving forward.
Users on mobile devices have different search and consumption habits than desktop users as they tend to use voice search more often and prefer properly displayed bits of content that they can consume more easily on the go. This means that you should not only emphasize the use of long-tail keywords and conversation queries to better accommodate voice search, but also make sure your website is designed to display properly across all mobile devices including smartphones and tablets. If your website is not built to provide a good mobile experience, you may risk a drop in search engine rankings as well as possible penalties from Google.
As you develop a new SEO strategy for your company or adjust an already existing campaign, take these emerging SEO trends into account. The continued rise of using mobile devices to access the internet has led to shifts in keyword use and an emphasis on local SEO while earned links, brand citations, and social signals continue to gain importance for search engine rankings. If you do not have the resources to create and implement your own SEO strategy, the SEO experts of Proceed Innovative provide complete digital marketing services to create an internet marketing plan specifically for your company. You can contact us online to learn more about our SEO services.