While Google continues to update its search engine algorithms (sometimes twice in one month), it’s no wonder the field of SEO is littered with speculation and hypothetical practices.
Constantly improving search engine software means many SEO experts are heading towards a more holistic approach more in line with content marketing strategy and traditional marketing techniques. In this article, I’ll share current trends and other tips to use when developing your latest SEO plan for the future.
1. Conversational Keyword Phrases
Google’s 2013 Hummingbird update brought many changes to how keywords are interpreted on the web. The most considerable change from this update improved the way the search algorithm understands “conversational” phrases – questions entered in a search query to make sure the whole phrase is understood rather than each particular words. So, what does this mean for SEO experts?
- Don’t use your PR company to build links and make sure linkbacks are from trustworthy sites.
- Try to ensure anchor text linking back to your site is more natural and less “keyword focused.”
- Make sure your website is useful and entertaining that targets your audience with sharable content and multimedia.
- Establish a strong social presence across all all major platforms.
2. Traditional links and Brand Mentions
Yes, inbound links are still considered the most important factor in page ranking but the way Google interprets these links has changed. Google caught on to certain old practices that link building campaigns brought on. It used to be that a link was a link, and the more you had, the better you ranked. Now, however, Google takes into account “implied links,” also called “brand mentions” and the ratio of how they are spread around the web. Brand mentions are words on another webpage mentioning or referencing your brand or company without the use of a hyperlink.
A key takeaway from this is to make sure your links appear natural from a wide range of sources with high authority if you are involved with any link-building campaign. Establishing your own brand authority is an important factor that will contribute hugely to ranking. And as explained above, if you are link building using your master keyword list as anchor text and the same URL for the hyperlink, be careful as Google will recognize the correlation as being tied to an SEO campaign and may penalize your site. Mixing URL structure (i.e. http://yoursite.com vs. http://www.yoursite.com) and keywords and phrases will allow your link building campaign to appear more natural.
3. Mobile Optimization and User Behavior
While this isn’t a new trend, the decision for marketers to support mobile environments should not even be an option. When 1 out of every 5 people in the world own a smartphone and 1 out of every 17 people own a tablet, you are only shooting yourself in the foot without mobile support.
In 2014 and 2015, it’s clear SEO campaigns will not only support mobile optimization strategy, but building on this strategy beyond simply having a responsive website. Not only should your site be readable and accessible from every device and multimedia platform, but it should also be optimized accordingly for each. Images and content need to be lighter on smaller devices rather than simply scaling down and re-adjusting to the browser window. Google algorithms now take user behavior like bounce-rate into effect. If you deliver a bad user-experience because your site is not optimized properly, your ranking will be effected.
4. Content Is Still King
Your website has to really deliver if you want to rank for relevant search terms. The days of taking advantages of loopholes and quick fixes are long gone. The web basically breaks down to simple content, and Google search algorithms strive to make sense of this content and to deliver the best most relevant content to the searcher. It only makes sense that content continues to hold the throne.
5. Social Media Integration
Because Google search algorithms are becoming pretty much the closest thing to artificial intelligence, it only makes sense that human signals will play a more important role on the future of SEO. If you don’t have a strong presence and strategy that allows for people to find and share your content, you’re doing it wrong! Social media is clearly not going away. Understanding your target market and delivering quality content is essential.
Every time a major change happens with Google search, the question “is SEO dead?” always arises. In my opinion, it’s the strategy that dies and not SEO itself. As a marketer or web developer, it’s your responsibility to evolve and change your strategy on the fly. Thinking in terms of “optimizing” may be on the way out. Instead, thing of it as SEM (or Search Engine Marketing) as just another branch off the marketing tree.
Feel free to check out my earlier posts on SEO:
The Basic Guide to SEO: 6 Ways to Optimize Your Blog
Use Yoast Before You’re Toast: The Blogger’s Handbook to SEO Friendly Articles
The Basic Guide to SEO: How Search Engines Actually Work
The Basic Guide to SEO: How to Optimize Your URLs
Updated November 21, 2017.