For this week’s milestone 50th edition of Your SEO Insider, some of the smartest, most trusted names in the SEO industry share their insights into what they see as the most important SEO trends or strategies for business owners and marketers.
- Original Content from Eric Enge, Ana Hoffman, Neil Patel, Phil Rozek, and many other SEO insiders
- Local SEO Content Tips
- 90 Experts: Link Building, Outsourcing, Scaling
- How to Optimize Your Images
Most Important Trends in SEO [Survey]
We asked our SEO Experts the following question:
What do you see as the most important SEO trend(s) (strategy, update, event, changes) that business owners and marketers should be aware of?
Lisa Buyer: Adjunct Professor @UFJschool, Author of #SocialPRSecrets
- SEO is no longer a technical skill.
- SEO and PR should no longer be on separate teams but should work together and collaborate
- Google’s algorithm changes favor quality content over gaming the system with technical black hat tactics
- PR can be the most valuable secret weapon to SEO
- SEO is the most under utilized skill and strategy by PR industry
- SEO has more to do with relevant and quality content that matters most to your audience. Content is the common denominator between SEO and PR.
- In your social media profile bios use the link to your website’s newsroom instead of home page
- Use keywords in your bios and appropriate hashtags
- Make sure your company news is sharable with easy to find and use share buttons – this will help drive quality traffic to your company news
- Think about how journalists search for news stories and optimize for those types of keywords
- Choose one keyword or keyword phrase per press release or article
- Title/headline length – no more than 70 characters with keyword or phrase close to the front
- Actively monitor the various SERPs relevant to your business to see which features are present.
Matthew Capala: Founder of Alphametic, Blogger at SearchDecoder.com, Author of “SEO Like I’m 5,” NYU Prof
With the recent deal in place with Twitter, Google has gained access to crawl the vast database of Twitter’s real-time content. Expect further integration of Twitter content into SERP beyond mobile in 2015, with emphasis on news and events. Tweets and Twitter profiles present opportunities to get on top of Google, and win more real estate ‘feeding the Hummingbird’ with a sound Twitter strategy. News content is an obvious win, but businesses should also optimize for hashtags, which are increasingly used as keywords in search. With the descending influence of G+ on SERP, Twitter is a platform to watch in SEO in 2015, and beyond.
Cory Collins: Managing Editor of Linkarati and the Content Marketing Manager for Page One Power
Here are a few trends I believe worth noting:
1. Google’s algorithm is getting more sophisticated, and more reliant on machine learning algorithms.
Google’s Panda algorithm has been around for 4 years, and Penguin for 3 years. Google’s search algorithm is getting more sophisticated all the time, and this is doubtless a trend that will continue. With all the information regarding AI, machine learning, and deep learning, I believe many SEOs, marketers, and business owners are missing the trend on just how sophisticated Google is now and on course to become.
SEOs need to actively invest into understanding keyword intent, and make sure their page is 100% the best result. Then, use SEO to signal to Google why your page (or website) is the best result for the searcher’s intent. SEO isn’t a trick to improve search visibility – SEO is about making the relevance, authority, and import of your page abundantly clear to search engines.
2. Search results will continue to change and diversify.
Anyone interested in SEO should be following Dr. Pete of Moz. Google is moving away from 10 blue links in search, and no one keeps a closer eye on SERP features/the SERP landscape than Dr. Pete.
If your business relies on search, you need to be actively monitoring the various SERPs relevant to your business and which features are present.
Google wants to satisfy searcher intent as fast as possible, which optimally means not sending searchers to your website if they can avoid it. Be aware and prepared, and continue to provide as much value as possible so Google’s best choice is to send searchers to your site.
3. Don’t give in to the ‘geddons.
SEO is an exciting, fast-paced, fluid industry. We’re a very forward-leaning bunch, with continual prophesies of new, exciting technology that will change everything.
Despite this, the basics of SEO remain nearly as important today as ever. If you’re not getting the fundamentals of SEO right—crawlability, indexation, and off-site signals—then you’re losing search traffic today.
SEOs and marketers love to theorize about the importance of the Twitter and Google deal, AuthorRank (or AgentRank), and user engagement signals. What will the core signals of the future be?
Don’t throw away today on the gamble for tomorrow. Technical SEO and links should be the biggest concern for every SEO.
Don’t give into the FUD and hype. Don’t start chasing future signals.
Amanda DiSilvestro: Author at HigherVisibility.com
I would say without question the update so many called “mobilegeddon” back on April 21 is the most important SEO update/event so far this year. It’s always been important to have a responsive web design and to make sure that you’re optimizing your webpages for mobile, but it was just this year that Google took drastic measures. Having a responsive design wasn’t necessarily good enough anymore—you now have to really think about mobile user experience and create something that encourages clicks and engagement on mobile. It’s time to gather and analyze metrics and make this a central part of your strategy (Of course this is a whole topic on its own, so I recommend visiting this article to learn more).
Going along with mobilegeddon that maybe didn’t get quite as much publicity but deserved it was the importance of creating a mobile app and then indexing and optimizing that app. There are now more searches on mobile than on desktop, and in my opinion creating an app is the next step in taking advantage for small businesses.
Eric Enge: CEO and Author at Stone Temple Consulting
I think the most important trend is that Google is getting better and better are measuring two things:
- Content Quality
- User Engagement with the Pages of Your Site
These are increasingly becoming ranking factors, and for that reason, business owners/marketers need to be investing more and more energy in understanding what users are doing, or want to be doing, on their site.
Ashley Faulkes: Author at Mad Lemmings
The most important SEO trend that has gradually been coming to the fore in the last few years is to focus on topics instead of specific keywords.
Sure, keyword research is still crucial, and knowing what words you are targeting and can realistically rank for is important, but single keywords are no longer the be all and end all they once were.
Instead, you should be aiming to create content that is centered around a specific idea or topic (yes, it will be a keyword too). You should aim to write using a variety of words, phrases and synonyms on that topic. Why? Because searchers are using longer and more specific phrases and you often have no idea what those will be.
So rather than trying to find all the keywords in existence, you should be aiming to use the language of your potential search target, and help them solve the problem or answer the question they are looking for. In this way, you will not only hit more long tail keyword combinations and appear more often in search, but you will also make the visitor happy and sell more as well.
I have seen it over and over again with both client’s and my content. Give it a try, you might be surprised at the results!
Ana Hoffman: Head barista at the Traffic Generation Cafe and author of the Weekly Marketing Skinny
Your content should be geared towards answering specific questions your audience has/might have. Respond to their pain. Solve their problems. The closer you get to it, the more likely Google is to rank your site for niche-specific terms
The biggest SEO trend I am seeing is that Google is ranking sites largely by click through rates and other user related variables. In many cases when sites have a high click through rate for a specific term they are ranking extremely high even if they have a much lower domain authority than other sites.
Phil Rozek: Author at LocalVisibilitySystem
Online reviews are huge, getting huger by the year, and more relevant to SEO than you might think.
I’m not talking about testimonials that you stick on your site; I’m talking about reviews on sites like Yelp, Google+, Facebook, BBB, Houzz.com, and industry-specific sites like Avvo or HealthGrades or Zillow.
You’ll get higher click-through in the Google Places results if you’ve got more and better reviews than your competitors have. (As my buddy Darren Shaw has shown, clicks seem to affect your local rankings.)
Many searchers will search for you by name, and I’m “guessing” that those brand-name queries help you – if in no other way, at least in autocomplete.
Getting reviews is also one of the best ways – if not the best way – to develop non-Google sources of online visibility. Facebook reviews will help you get a foothold in Facebook (and to a growing extent in Google.) Yelp reviews are the main or the only supplier of reviews for Apple Maps, Bing Places, and Yahoo Local – all places where you’d like to have at least some presence.
If your reviews are good and your brand-name SERP is impressive, you’ll likely get “longer clicks” once people eventually click through to your site. (Bill Slawski has done a nice job of explaining the importance of long clicks.) The quality of the traffic is likely to be higher, too, because visitors are already “pre-sold” on the quality of your company and services.
Most important of all is that good reviews from real customers will help you get more customers. Bogus reviews won’t help you do that, nor will they bring all the indirect SEO benefits I just described. Putting together the right review strategy is tough and takes time and some trial and error, but it’s worth it. It’ll help your rankings and help you get more out of whatever rankings you have at any given time.
Dennis Seymour: Co-founder and author at LeapFroggr
The most important trend that I see is that Google seems to be putting more and more emphasis on on-page factors. From the mobile update, the new recommended schema additions, the recent Panda update, the mass CSS warnings . . . the trend is putting more importance on how you present your website, how you optimize it and how you improve your user’s experience.
Links will always be a factor but if you are still one of those that neglect good on-page work, then it’s time that you do so.
Paul Shapiro: Organic Search Director for Catalyst and Author at Search Wilderness
Let’s look into the near future.
Google currently relies on a complex algorithm to rank content. This means, that although we don’t have full transparency as to what goes into it that algorithm, a Google engineer may still be able to use that knowledge to solve an SEO issue if he wanted to.
Google is starting to move toward ranking content based on machine learning, a system in which would remove the knowledge as to why something is ranking even for its engineers.
This makes the whole “holistic internet marketing” approach or the more relevant in the future. It’s not something that’s particularly exciting to hard-core SEOs in practice, but it’s the future.
That being said, it also makes advanced knowledge statistics and big data methodologies more useful to the average SEO. If we can’t say for certain whether a best practice is going to work, we can do experiments and work from there. You can even roll-out your own machine learning analysis (with a much smaller data set than Google has obviously) and use that to inform your online marketing efforts. Predictive analytics, big data, machine learning–all useful skills to be applied to the future of SEO.
Ryan Stewart: Founder and Author at Webris
Where to begin?!
One of the points I’ve been trying to communicate lately is SEO isn’t just about your website anymore. Web behavior is becoming increasingly fragmented – people don’t use Google for everything anymore. It’s important to look at SEO as holistic organic marketing approach – creating content and promoting it through other channels that never touch your website is huge.
People are increasingly using search within platforms like SlideShare, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Amazon (and more) to find content. If you’re serious about your organic marketing, look at expanding your footprint on other channels. Amazing things are happening on the web and it’s happening less and less on your website. At the end of the day, you’re an internet user – what are you looking for and how do you find it? When you’re shopping for a product or looking for services do you just Google what you want and click “buy”? 99% of the time, no. You see a Tweet, you read a blog post, you get an email and then you might purchase.
Mark Traphaggen: Senior Director of Online Marketing and Author at Stone Temple Consulting
We’re seeing two trends not normally associated with SEO that we believe are having an increasing effect on search rankings and search visibility nonetheless. These are branding and user experience.
1. Branding: it has long been noted that well-known brands seem to perform better in search. Though this has led to conspiracy theories about under-the-table deals between these brands and Google, the much more likely explanation is the simplest one: People prefer seeing results from brands they know, and Google likes showing results that people want to see. That doesn’t mean that Google is algorithmically selecting known brand names to pump up in the results. Rather, Google can see user interaction with results, and very likely uses that in its ranking factors.
For example, let’s say for a given query that is searched by many users the result for a well-known brand is currently number three, whereas the results at positions one and two are from lesser-known brands. More people may click on that third result just because it is a brand they already know and trust. That may send a strong signal to Google that the well-known brand result ought to be ranked higher.
This means that for highly competitive queries, one of the best things you can be doing for your SEO is to build the visibility and reputation of your brand. For more on this see Why is Building Your Brand an SEO Strategy?
2. User Experience: In recent years we have seen Google moving beyond an emphasis on keywords and links (though those remain important) to a direct evaluation of the relevance and usefulness of a page to the user’s query. This is something they can now do at scale, and they are constantly improving the ability of their algorithm to evaluate the quality of web pages in a way that matches how humans would evaluate them.
This means that you must make sure that you web pages, and in particular your key landing pages, deliver a top-notch user experience. That doesn’t just mean superior content (although that’s a huge part!). It also means that the page should deliver everything a user would expect given their query. That could include things like links to privacy policies, customer service, and related products. It also means easy and intuitive navigation. In summary, the page should anticipate what a user landing there might expect and desire to see to increase her confidence in the authority and usefulness of the page.
Good advice for those that do like to write as well!
Top 3 Local SEO “Content” Wins for People Who Hate to Write by Phil Rozek on Local Visibility System
Local Businesses Squeezed of Organic Search by Larger Websites by Myles Anderson on Search Engine Land
A surprising number of businesses have not completed their Google My Business page – have you?
Enhanced Content: The Local Search Data Gap by Michael Solms on LSA Insider
SEOs Believe ‘High’ Local Rankings Deliver Greater Response Than Organic by Ross Marchant on BrightLocal
Make Your Images SEO Rockstars in 4 Steps by Jean Dion on Search Engine Journal
90 SEO Experts Talk White Hat Link Building, Outsourcing, and Scaling by Tim Soulo on ahrefs Blog
Search Engine News
Google Drops Google+ as a Requirement for Google Services by Matt Southern on Search Engine Journal
Google: Panda 4.2 is Rolling Out Slowly for Technical Reasons by Barry Schwartz on Search Engine Land
As always, thanks for reading! Please let me know if there’s anything we can do to make the Insider more useful to you. Thanks too to today’s contributing experts, all of the content writer’s that we’ve displayed here over the past 50 editions, and to the great team at SteamFeed for all of their support!
Have a great week in search.
This article was originally published on SteamFeed. It appears here with permission.
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