Search engine optimization is an ever changing world. When organizations and SEO professionals get used to the rules of the game, they find that new rules have taken over and the old is passé. The cat and mouse game between the users and search engines is quite intense with each one trying to outdo the other. What worked in 2014 is sure fail in the coming year. If you have observed search engine results carefully, you will notice that certain trends are clearly visible.
Guest postings took the SEO world by storm in the year 2013. Every blog became a hot-spot for guest posts and many made plenty of money offering to host them. By the early 2014, Google search caught up with this practice which was used to obtain back-links. The Google search algorithm was suitably altered to give less weightage to back-links from unknown sites. Guest posts on sites with high traffic were the only ones which survived.
Low quality blogs which were making money by hosting guest posts were the first to get hit by this change in Google algorithm. In fact, many of them simply shut shop because the very purpose of their existence was negated. Websites which were using these blogs to generate back-links were similarly affected. Quality, not quantity became the buzzword. At the same time, the amount of money spent in placing guest posts on authority sites became unviable.
In such a situation will guest posting make any sense in 2015? Remember that there is a distinction between writing a guest post with the intention to enhance reputation which is a legitimate activity as against writing guest posts only for SEO. Search engine algorithms cannot dictate what you write where. Corporates still have to build a brand which is only possible with extensive online exposure. Therefore, guest posts per se will continue to take up space online, but its relevance to SEO will be considerably diminished.
With the new developments and changes in Google search algorithm, content has come up trumps. Earlier, content was only a means to achieve SEO objectives. Keyword placements ruled supreme. Now keywords are losing relevance while other factors are gaining importance. The only sure way to find your website higher up in search rankings is to provide unique, original and good content. The question remains as to what really constitutes great content? Do you have to continually produce and publish research papers to grab pole position on search engines? If that were so only universities and research organizations would find a place on search engines. Obviously there seems to be a wide gap between expectation of Google and ground reality. The coming year will see a refinement in content strategy as websites learn from their experience.
Mobiles are widely used for search and this means your SEO strategy must take this factor into account. The first requirement is to make your website mobile friendly. For this you must have a responsive design. The user interface must be well designed taking into consideration the screen width of different mobile devices. Voice search is also widely used and this requires special attention. Long tailed keywords have more or less replaced single word for search. Webmasters must take mobile users more seriously in the coming year.
In 2013 a number of web farms and directories mushroomed on the internet with the sole purpose of providing back-links. Some directories milked thousands of websites and made a fast buck. This year in 2014, we witnessed a total collapse of these directories. The reason was that Google had changed its search algorithm. In the coming year we will see further refinement in this area. Ironically, back-links cannot be eliminated from your SEO strategy since it still remains a factor in SEO. The solution is simple – you must find reputed websites and blogs to place your back-links.
Another significant trend has been noticed lately in search reports. No-follow links which were considered useless for SEO purposes seem to have gained traction. If you look at it from Google search perspective this weightage to no-follow links seems to make sense. 2015 will probably see a resurgence of these links.
There was interesting fallout due to the change in Google algorithm post Panda and Penguin with respect to back-links. Organizations started seeding competitor’s back-links on dubious and spammy sites to get them penalized by search engines. This strategy pushes a rival website way down the search ranking. One of major activities for a SEO professional is to trace these rouge back-links and disavow them. But this is not as simple as it seems. Considering the fact that Google take up to nine months to disavow files, a target website may remain down for a long time.
In 2014, Google put its might behind its Authorship initiative. Webmasters were urged to use Google Plus because it was given weightage in SEO algorithm. However, the experiment failed miserably. During this phase when Google was promoting Authorship, it obviously downplayed the role of other social media in SEO. Now that Google has officially accepted defeat, Facebook and Twitter are likely to play a dominant role in SEO.
Social media interaction is important because it brings traffic and referrals to your website. Traffic, in turn, improves search ranking. Therefore webmasters have to be social media savvy if they wish to gain visibility. Going forward, social would play a critical role in SEO.
The year 2015 may not witness a dramatic change in SEO strategies. Nonetheless, there will be a shift in focus and subtle changes in search algorithms which will force webmasters to have a fresh look at their websites. Content will become more important and keywords will lose their preeminent position. Mobiles will herald a new search paradigm while social media will be of paramount importance. Though search arena may witness more fierce battles, there won’t be any clear winners or losers.