Anyone who keeps an eye on Google’s activities is aware, to some degree, of the sea change when it comes to ranking. Long gone are the days of keyword-stuffing, shoddy backlinks and content farms. Google’s value depends upon the relevancy of the search results it provides to its legions of advertisers, so it stands to reason that they would do everything they can to deliver the most relevant results. As such, 2015 has already seen some big changes to SEO, and there are certainly more to come.
1. The Death of Keywords?
Keywords have been the backbone of SEO ever since Google stormed onto the internet search scene. In fact, it wasn’t so long ago that many modern-day, million-dollar websites ranked at the very top of search results with practically no effort. Such days are long gone for new webmasters and marketing teams. Spammers all but took over the keyword platform, using it to make their clients’ sites appear more relevant to Google’s algorithms than they really were. Google’s Arctic updates (Panda and Penguin) represented the death knell for such techniques, and the content farms that heavily employed them have lost nearly all of their traffic and credibility.
In 2015, Google’s search algorithm seems to put much more emphasis on the quality of the content itself: how people employ the keywords is much more important than the mere fact that they’re using them. This has led to better, more relevant search results already, and the need for businesses to employ a more complex keyword strategy.
2. Local Marketing Will Rise to the Forefront
Signs that local SEO is on the rise are already evident. As 2014 drew to a close, Google released yet another update to the search algorithm. Pigeon, as it’s called, is geared towards making geographical location more relevant in search results, meaning that businesses and sites physically nearer to the user making the search will be prioritized over those more distant. The focus on local SEO isn’t going anywhere in 2015, prompting businesses to include their location in their content and to divert resources to developing Google Business profiles.
3. The Mobile Revolution
Mobile applications are starting to replace more traditional forms of software, and Google is taking notice. Apps are showing up at the top of search results for keywords formerly reserved for web pages, leading businesses to build apps that are in some way linked to their content.
The reason is quite simple: the influx of tablets, Smartphones, ultrabooks and even smart watches makes apps convenient methods of customer engagement. This trend dominated in 2014, and is poised to only grow in 2015 and the years to come.
4. What the Smart Watch Hath Wrought: Voice Search
Smart-watches aren’t very big, so the prospect of typing keywords and other data into them was never very viable. They will, however, usher in advances in voice search, and savvy companies will figure out how best to leverage this new communication with their business offerings.
5. Social Network Continues to Grow
Lastly, the power of social media has continued to grow with no signs of slowing down. Google has incorporated social signals into their algorithm for quite some time now; the only real question is how the tech giant will choose to balance the effect. Will there be an update that allots tremendous significance to websites being talked about on social media, giving them the potential to go viral? Time will tell.
Google’s up to something, and it may take a few months more to better assess the SEO landscape of 2015.