SEO in 2015: What to Expect in 2015 According to Top Industry Experts

SEO in 2015: What to Expect in 2015 According to Top Industry Experts

The year is drawing to an end and it’s almost time to start thinking of resolutions for the New Year. If you haven’t been successful with SEO and online marketing this year, now is a great time to start preparing for the future.

SEO has seen some upheavals over the last few years. While some could be termed as normal changes, others were devastating to many business owners. SEO experts have had to change the way they approach online marketing almost completely within the last few years. The tactics that were once effective suddenly became a double edged sword that caused harm to the wielder.

If you thought the changes were over, you’re wrong. It’s just beginning. We can expect to see many more changes in SEO as search engines continue to strive for better user experience. It is therefore important for you to be properly equipped to adapt to the changes as they come.

To help you in your preparation in this regard we have gathered information about what the future holds for SEO from some of the most experienced and trusted names in the SEO industry.

What to expect in the SEO industry in the coming year

1. Quality content will still be important

This is something that most SEO experts agree about. Quality content will still be important for successful SEO. In an effort to improve user experience, Google is becoming stricter about the quality of the content on webpages. You can’t depend on the loopholes of days gone by. Websites with high quality content will be rewarded by Google. They will in turn see increased traffic, business and revenue.

2. Breaking the mobile market

Mobile searches are different from web searches. We’ll have to find a way to crack the mobile app market if there is any hope of remaining successful in the coming year. According to Michael Martinez, those developing apps are moving away from the traditional mentality of ‘Google PlayStore’ listing. They are targeting alternative stores for mobile apps.

Michael Martinez, Reflective Dynamics

Michael Martinez, keyword phrases

3. The rise of conversational keyword phrases

Google introduced the Hummingbird Update in 2013 to improve the ability of the search engine to interpret search queries. It is expected that Google’s search algorithm will undergo further changes to accommodate spoken searches. These include searches made by people when they speak into their phones using a mobile app. Therefore there will be an increase in the use of conversational keyword phrases to suit the type of queries made.

Jayson DeMers, Audience Bloom

Jayson DeMers - earning links

4. Increased focus on truly earning links

As search algorithms continue to improve, link buying and other such strategies to obtain links will continue to have a negative effect on your website’s overall ROI. Since links are expected to remain a primary indicator of a website’s value, authority and trust for search engines, then link building will continue to be a primary focus for SEO.

However, it will become increasingly important to ensure that you obtain your links honestly. Google is placing a lot more emphasis on clean link profiles. Even the hint of spammy links can have your website penalized. It will become increasingly important for webmasters to review their link profiles on a monthly basis. You have to ensure that you remove bad links and submit disavow files for those links that aren’t contributing to your site in terms of traffic.

We also expect to see more emphasis placed on quality content and promotion of content on social media and other relevant websites.

Dan Petrovic, Dejan SEO

Dan Petrovic - Increaded focus on links

5. Increased personalization

Search functionalities are becoming more sophisticated in order to improve user experiences. Consumers will therefore be exposed to a higher level of personalization. We can expect that each person will see different results when making the same query. The results shown will now depend on the demographic, geographical and psychographic data gathered from the individual’s previous engagements with the search engine.

This means that conversions will be higher for those brands that have invested more in personalization. The visibility of your brand therefore will depend on its ability to become more prominent in content marketing.

Leah Baade,

Leah Baade - Increased personalization

6. Less focus on keywords and ranking

Top ranking on search results pages was once the primary purpose of search engine optimization. Using the most popular keywords in your content was once enough to get you top rankings. However, the encryption of keyword search data by Google is an indicator of things to come.

Information consumption is being fragmented across various platforms, devices, channels and applications. As a result, the emphasis on keywords has reduced and SEO is slowly losing touch with keywords.

Many SEO experts agree that SEO will become more about increasing the visibility of brands across multiple platforms. It will become increasingly important to expand the presence of your brand to every corner of digital space to improve its reach to different customers.

7. Increased emphasis on long-tail keywords

2014 has seen the increase use of the long-tail keywords. This trend is expected to continue in to 2015. One or two word key phrases are going to become increasingly costly to rank and convert customers for. Long tail keyword phrases will become increasingly important for better conversion rates. They provide a higher level of specificity and will drive traffic with higher purchase intent. Leading brands in 2015 will be those brands that make good use of long-tail keyword phrases.

The emphasis on long-tail keyword phrases will be further encouraged by the use of mobile devices to perform vocal search queries. Search engines will seek to become more adept in interpreting these spoken searches that often include long-tail keyword phrases.

8. Change in the way search results are displayed

The changes that Google has made so far prove that the search engine plans on being more than just that. It plans on being a destination. We can therefore expect to see a change in the way search results are displayed in the coming years. We expect to see an increase in in-stream answers or information relevant to queries including sports scores, retailers and weather information.

Google has been aggressive in the expansion of the use of Knowledge Graph in 2014. This Knowledge Vault pulls information from databases that are human curated such as Freebase and Wikipedia. However, the rate at which these human curated databases gather information is not fast enough for Google. Knowledge Vault will therefore gather information from all over the Web and merge it. This will improve Google’s understanding of the Web and lead to enhancements in the already present algorithms such as Hummingbird as well as Knowledge Graph.

Takeshi Young, KeshKesh

Takeshi Young - Change in the way search results are displayed

9. Increased merging of thought leadership campaigns with social engagement

We’ve heard the advice time and again: Present yourself as an expert in your industry to improve your brand’s visibility. The thought leadership strategy has led to a greater emphasis on content marketing strategies to position brands as experts in their respective industries.

However, many thought leadership campaigns have fallen flat on their face. They haven’t achieved as much as was previously hoped for. However, they continue to be an integral part of the organic marketing strategy as they improve visibility through off-site signals.

An emphasis on merging thought leadership strategies with social media engagement will be seen in the coming years. Social engagement with the relevant audiences in collaboration with content marketing strategies will ensure sustainability of the thought leadership strategy.

10. SEO companies rebranding to Digital Agencies

According to Dan of Dejan SEO more SEO companies will rebrand to digital agencies and move away from SEO. We will also see more companies specializing in various areas such as link building.

There are two reasons for this. The first is that we are moving away from the traditional view of SEO performance that included ranking and link numbers. The second reason is that the industry is becoming increasingly complex with the introduction of new content for consumption across different platforms.

Dan Petrovic, Dejan SEO


11. Use of various signals for ranking

We can expect to see an increase in the number of signals Google uses for ranking pages. It will become increasingly difficult to pinpoint exactly what signals are being used in the determination of ranking and exactly how they interact. We can therefore expect SEOs to diversify their strategies even further. We’ll see more websites combine both paid and organic strategies for better results.

Eric Enge, Stone Temple

Eric Enge - Use of various signals for ranking

12. Increased emphasis on mobile

Mobile will continue to drive design in 2015. There will be increased emphasis on responsive websites that can be viewed on mobile and other hand held devices. Any brand that wants to be successful in the coming years will have to think mobile-first. Google and other search engines intend to have a seamless world where information can be easily accessed on any platform.

Currently website design features are moving from desktop to mobile. However, time is coming when we’ll see these features being transferred from the mobile websites to desktop websites. This is when mobile will truly drive design.

Dr. Pete Meyers,

Dr. Pete Meyers - Increased emphasis on mobile

13. Increased emphasis on social engagement

Updates made to Google’s algorithms including Penguin, Hummingbird and Panda earlier this year indicate that there will be increased emphasis on social engagement and content marketing in the coming year. The updates saw a shift towards the use of data collected from social media such as linking and sharing of content to gauge the relevance and quality of content. It is therefore expected that brands will adopt social media as a major part of their search engine ranking strategy.

David Hanaford,

David Hanaford - Increased emphasis on social engagement

14. SSL is the new Standard

In August 2014, Google announced that it was undertaking a “War on Hacking”, trying to help prevent the spread of dangerous malware via infected web sites. Central to this strategy was their message to webmasters to make their sites fully HTTPS, or secure, so that there would be much less likelihood of hacking that could spread malware to unsuspecting visitors.

In order to encourage this, Google has announced that it will start using SSL as a search signal, and give preference to sites that are fully HTTPS over sites that are not.

At first, the effects of this search algorithm change will be small, but over the next several months, Google plans to increase the impact of this factor significantly, so the prudent webmaster who is concerned about their search results should implement this update sooner rather than later.

Secure certificates can be purchased for $150 or so, and secure hosting is usually double the monthly cost of regular hosting, but combined this cost usually only comes to an increase of about $20/month. Given the minor expense, there is no reason to avoid this upgrade, considering the eventual upside.
SSL is the wave of the future, so sites are best advised to climb aboard the secure hosting train as soon as they can manage. Your SEO could depend on it.

David Caputo, Positronic Design, The SEO Company

David Caputo - SSL is the new Standard

Some tips for the New Year

Don’t get discouraged with all the anticipated changes. Simply get ready for the New Year by improving your SEO strategy. The following are some survival tips to help you get ready for 2015.

  • Start creating high quality content. Strive for better quality content over quantity.
  • Although keywords are still vital it is important to emphasize the use of conversational keyword phrases to improve your website’s visibility.
  • Build links using organic outreach. Use engaging content to obtain links. Be sure to keep an eye on your link profiles to avoid being penalized. Ensure that you only have quality links pointing back to your website. Disavow any negative or suspicious links.
  • Engage with your target audience on social media. Get people talking about your brand on social media and other places online. Provide them with quality content on your blogs and social media pages. Encourage them to share links or like your content.
  • Design for mobile. Ensure that your website is responsive. Ensure that users still have a good experience when interacting with your website on their mobile devices.

To summarize

We can expect to continue seeing a lot of changes in SEO. However, this has been the same every year for the last few years. Although some of the changes over the years have resulted in a complete change in the way SEO has been done, there is no reason for alarm in the changes expected for the coming year. Placing an emphasis on quality of content and using white hat SEO techniques ought to keep you in Google’s good graces for a long time to come, especially if you are involved in an ongoing organic SEO campaign with a reputable SEO Company.

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