You’re not spending enough quality time together.
You feel like you’re making a real effort.
And that you’ve been pushing all the right buttons but not getting the results you deserve.
You’re at it once a month but it still feels like a limp effort.
You know you should be doing it more often.
You notice a slight change in performance but never spend long enough in the position you really want.
Nobody is interested in what you’ve been up to; it’s not worth gossiping about or sharing with their friends. It’s not exciting. Not really. It’s getting boring.
You feel overworked, under-loved and hopelessly unsatisfied…
For once, you just want to be put first.
It’s 2015. And Google’s Playing ‘Hard-to-get”.
Google can be ruthless.
It doesn’t care how big you are.
Or how good you’ve been in the past.
It changes all the time and it demands your constant attention and effort.
Those old tricks you learnt won’t have the same effect anymore.
And it always puts its users first (before you).
If you really want to stand a chance with Google, you have to work hard at it.
So take some notes and get ready to start flirting your way to search engine success in 2015.
1) Always Look Your Best.
This means everywhere, on every screen size and every modern device (we call this a responsive website).
If everyone else thinks your website is gorgeous, the chances are that Google will too.
It’s not okay to have a website that offends people on a mobile device anymore.
Today, mobile phones aren’t just a way to communicate , they are an extension of our lives and we use them for pretty much everything (it’s sad but true).
In 2015, Google is placing a huge emphasis on mobile usability and it’s serious about it.
Serious enough that in late 2014 they started labelling all websites optimised for mobile as “mobile-friendly” in the Google Search Engine Results Page (I cover this in more detail in this post for Hatch Collective).
So users can now make an informed decision about visiting your website from a mobile device (if it’s not mobile friendly, they probably won’t even bother clicking on the search result).
Your website needs to display beautifully across all screens so your content is pleasurably consumable on all devices.
If it wasn’t before, the message is now clear and obvious – care about the user and get mobile or lose customers and, ultimately, fail.
It’s 2015. Not 2000.
Tip: When deciding on how your website should look on a mobile phone, think about the prioritisation of content and how this changes depending on the user intent.
2) Try Something Different…
You want to be in a different position, right?
Then the content you produce has to be quality and unique.
2015 is going to be a year that separates the men from the boys (or so to speak).
Simply having lots of ‘okay’ content isn’t going to cut it anymore. You need:
- Awesome content that will drive engagement and increase your brand mentions.
- Pages of uniquely valuable, strategic and relevant content that actually helps answer people’s questions, in a way that outshines everyone else.
- To connect with more people on social networks, get the discussion going, become part of the community.
So on the topic of content, let us learn from the best; Rand the man, who devised the following content checklist in his awesome SlideShare presentation “SEO in 2015: How Search Has Changed & How Marketers’ Tactics Must Shift”. Rand says that your content should be:
- One of a kind: appears nowhere else on the web.
- Relevant: contains content that search engines can interpret as on-topic
- Helpful: resolves the searches query in a useful, efficient manner.
- Uniquely valuable: provides information that’s unavailable elsewhere.
- Great UX: is easy and pleasurable to consume on any device.
- Likely to Spread: convincingly answers the question: “Who will amplify this content and why?”.
Tip: When creating new content, keep your article headline consistent with the search result, don’t be deceptive.
3) Take Cheeky Photos. And Use Them.
Get a decent camera and start snapping from all angles (go crazy, use some props…).
Make your website look the best it possibly can and then upload the images to your ‘Google My Business’ page (https://www.google.com/business/). “What is this?” I hear you cry. It’s a free way to help people find your business on Google when they’re looking for it. You should probably get on it, like now (this is especially important to a local search strategy).
Doing this will help Google see that you really care, that you’re willing to go the extra mile to help users learn about your business. Also, ask your best clients to kindly post an honest review about your services.
Why not use these images to enhance your blog posts and other content? Make it rich and unique.
For further reading on the benefits of a ‘Google My Business’ page check out: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/cracking-local-seo-your-2015-guide-google-my-business-evan-bailyn.
Tip: Ensure your business address features exactly as it appears on your website (this extends to all places you mention your address, keep it consistent).
4) Get People Talking About Your Antics.
Make it so everyone wants a piece of what you have to offer.
The word on the web is that a recently discovered patent submission highlights how Google distinguishes between “express links” and “implied links”.
Okay, it’s a little bit boring and technical to read in depth but basically “implied links” are said to be when someone mentions, or references, a brand without including a hyperlink (known as an “express link”).
This looks like another strong effort by Google to stamp out the dishonest link building tactics that have plagued the web for years.
So with this in mind, a good way to get more implied links is to communicate with influencers and build strong relationships (just like digital networking).
Tip: Focus on building real relationships. Not links. The good links will come as a result of exposure.
5) Understand Their True Desires
What is it that they really want from you?
When you figure it out give it to them, in the best possible way you know how; be precise with your content and ensure it addresses the users needs immaculately.
We call this understanding ‘user intent’ and Search Engine Land provides a pithy way of looking at it by segmenting user queries into three sections: do something, know something or go somewhere.
Tip: Don’t focus on producing content that contains the right keywords. Focus on content that answers the right questions and matches user intent. If it’s relevant, the keywords will be in there.
6) Be A Bad Boy (Or Girl). And Get Punished.
If you’re naughty in 2015, you will be punished for it.
Is that really want you want? (don’t answer that).
You need to be vigilant and switched-on to what can be classed as spammy links because if used (even by accident) they will hurt your marketing efforts.
So-called, ‘non-editorial’ links are more dangerous than ever (also known as unnatural links) because the Google engine is getting more intelligent and it doesn’t want to return spammy results which don’t benefit or provide value to its users.
Let’s see what Matt Cutts has to say about it.
So non-editorial links are basically the opposite to editorial links (not paid for or directly requested) and they are very bad. You should avoid these in 2015.
Think of it this way, if a machine builds your links – spam.
If you sit all day building links for the sake of building links – spam.
If someone creates rubbish, low-quality content about a topic just to link back to your website to give you a link – spam.
Be good, do it properly and avoid punishment.
For a comprehensive overview of links and how to go about ethical link building, checkout this article. It’s well written, informative and consumable.
Tip: Don’t pay for links. Don’t ask for links. Let people link to your content because it is worth linking to.
7) Do It Publicly (Socially).
Start doing it in front of everyone…with social media, of course.
Yes it takes time, yes it takes effort and yes we could probably all be a bit better at it.
But here’s the thing, you still have to try to engage as much as you can if you want to compare with the ‘big guns’ and give your website the best possible chance of receiving favourable search engine rankings in 2015, courtesy of ‘social signals’, which look set to play a part.
Although the direct cause and effect of how these signals impact rankings is still murky, social media will certainly help with the relationship building side of things and the more people that talk to you and talk about you, the more your brand awareness will improve.
Tip: When you start getting social, think about what platform works best for your business and don’t try to juggle too many balls at once. Oh, and be likeable!
To Finish Off
SEO is changing (again) and in 2015 it will be less-isolated and become integrated into many other aspects of digital marketing, including social media and content marketing which means social media strategists, content marketing gurus and SEO experts will all need to work together to produce the most fruitful results.
Content marketing will be what drives search rankings and SEO will remain a crucial component of content marketing, it will shape the trends with keyword research, meta-tags and link integrity, long-tail keyword searches etc. The two will go hand in hand.
So that’s our thoughts, how do you think SEO will change in 2015?