Yes, it is that time of the year again when everyone starts to predict what SEO will look like in the coming year. Google's algorithm is constantly changing.
There are public updates as well as refreshes and tweaks that occur on a regular basis. Rather than throwing out theories or predictions, I want to discuss five things that you should already be focusing on as we enter 2015.
1. ROI Should be the Metric You Track, Not Keyword Rankings
Determining whether or not an SEO effort is successful based on keyword positions is completely reckless. Ranking reports that show your website is ranking high for a bunch of keywords looks great but it doesn't always translate to leads, sales and revenue. In fact, some SEO companies will target low competition, virtually useless keywords, just so they can tell you that you are ranking #1 on Google.
As a business owner, which statement would you want to hear from your SEO company?
- "Great news! Your website is number one on Google for the keyword 'free widget information' but we don't know if it has produced any revenue. Buy, hey congrats -- you are number one! Woo hoo!"
- "Last month's infographic was responsible for earning 72 inbound links and it also pulled in 67 leads, 18 sales and17,360 in revenue."
Is a fancy keyword ranking report more beneficial or knowing what your return on investment was? If you aren't measuring the success of your SEO effort in terms of ROI now is the time to start.
2. Earning Links Instead of Building Them
Inbound links are going to remain the biggest signal, or vote of confidence in terms of authority and trust, that Google uses in their algorithm. This isn't going to change. Not in 2015 and probably not in the years to come.
For the past couple of years the focus has turned to building high quality links. Well, this has evolved into a hybrid SEO-Public Relations approach, and watch for more companies to combine their SEO strategy with a more traditional PR approach moving forward.
Earning a single link on a high quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic and brand exposure. Look for traditional PR and SEO to work hand-in-hand in 2015.
3. Optimize for Mobile Traffic
Back in 2012 ComScore predicted that mobile traffic would exceed desktop traffic in 2014, and they were correct. You can take a look at this infographic for more information from that report. Google loves responsive websites and they make it perfectly clear that they feel the best user experience is achieved via a responsive design. There is now a "mobile-friendly" notation next to websites in the mobile search results that Google deems to be mobile friendly. Bing has also made it public that they prefer a single responsive URL. If your website mobile friendly? Run it through Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to quickly find out.
4. Pay Attention to the Red Headed Stepchildren Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo
Every year the million-dollar question is, "Can anyone step up and compete with Google and capture a larger percentage of the search volume?" Will this happen in 2015? While Google will remain top dog, there have been some recent events that signal that some of the other search engines could capture a bit more of that share in the coming year.
Firefox ended their deal with Google, and Yahoo is now the default search engine for the browser. Google's deal also ends with Safari in 2015, and reports have both Bing and Yahoo trying to ink that deal. The option to switch default browsers in iOS 8 and OS X from Google to DuckDuckGo also exists. You need to have visibility across all search engines since options other than Google becoming available.
5. Smarter More Defined Social Media Presence
Years ago social media was simply a platform to share content, so businesses would sign up for every social platform available. It is now a very powerful marketing channel and customer service channel. Your social audience expects you to engage with them on a more personal level.
It is more effective to focus on two or three social media platforms and be extremely active and accommodating. This not only helps you generate more leads, sales and revenue for your business, but it also helps to build a very loyal following that will share your content. This can introduce new people to your brand and even present opportunities to earn links.