Every year, Google decides to make a few algorithm changes that leave the SEO community scrambling for answers to a countless amount of questions. What kind of sites have been hit? What specific metrics are more important now? What should we look out for? How can we get to the top and stay there?
These are all typical questions that come up every single year! It’s no different this year with the latest Penguin 3.0 update which has been rolled out worldwide just last week.
The truth is, the only way to find out is by analyzing real, hard data and experimenting.
Every now and then I come across people who want to contact my firm for Search Engine Optimization consulting who claim that it’s easy, yet they couldn’t be further from the truth. If it were easy, why would they be looking to hire someone to do it for them? Wouldn’t they be instant billionaires? Yes, for those that don’t know, billions are made each year from Search Engine Marketing alone!
In order to succeed in SEO, you must put on numerous hats. Sometimes it may be the Webmaster hat, sometimes the Marketer hat, sometimes the Programmer hat, and sometimes even the Artist hat. There are both technical and creative skillsets that must be honed in order to succeed in this industry.
We asked experts from all over what they think it’ll be in 2015. Their responses were interesting!
As an experienced SEO, what algorithm changes should the industry expect in 2015?
Patrick Coombe (Elite Strategies of Delray Beach Florida)
According to Google we are definitely looking at a major Penguin rollout here in the next few weeks / months. That update will be a more refined version of Penguin, and from what we’ve heard it has been at least partially rewritten. As far as algorithm changes in 2015, I expect to see a lot more adjustments of or relating to structured data. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google give preferential treatment to sites that have their data marked up with structured data. Purely a guess, but from what we’ve been seeing that appears to be the direction they are going in.
As far as SPAM, I think we are going to continue to see Google continue to focus on attacking SPAM in very smart ways. We’ve seen a lot of targeted algorithm updates such as the Payday loan updates, “jail photos” type websites, and things like that. Any industry that is habitually abusing Google across the board I think will get some special love from big G. Who knows what’s going to happen once Matt comes back from vacation. J
Robert Adler (Automated Tendencies of Maryland)
Like always, I think they're going to end up tweaking the algorithm for what is considered a good and bad link. Another change that I, personally, believe that will happen soon will be a change related to situational awareness such as the new way to query using cell phones and Google (Google Now). Regardless, most of the algorithm updates will be related to showing the best results as they always have been to the user and to answer their question. With this comes the goal of figuring out whatever people are abusing and trying to stop them.
CCarter (SERPWoo – SEO Intelligence Tool)
Google is going to continue the cat and mouse game with SEOs. But one thing I do notice with major updates, those that got hit don't really "give up" they seem to turn to the dark side more and more, so as Google continues to tighten the guidelines of what "white hat" SEO is – pretty much only on site at this point, more and more SEOs will continue turning to the dark side.
Mike Korolishin (SEO Consultant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
I'm not expecting anything major outside the constant struggle Google has between making their SERPs harder to manipulate and making them functional for actual users, websites and businesses. I wouldn't be surprised to see non-contextual site wide links take a hit soon, if they didn't already in this most recent update – still waiting on the dust to settle. But it's a tough balancing act Google has to pull off. So if historical form prevails, for every exploitable asset that Google snuffs out, two or three more will appears in the comings weeks and months.
How important is guest posting to the majority of your SEO campaigns?
Personally, I am a big fan of owning my own data. I’ve done a lot of guest posting 5-6 years ago and quite a few of those (very quality) posts have been removed or modified. I like to be in control of what I write. As for my clients, we definitely do look for opportunities to guest post on blogs that are relevant to their industry. We always strive to stay within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, especially for our client campaigns. I don’t like to gamble with other people’s money, but on the same token if someone decides on their own accord to link to us, we aren’t going to fight it.
Guest posting is not an important part of my campaigns, but it is a component in them. Most of the time guest posts are leveraged by our company simply to get exposure, not just for the back link. As long as you're obtaining a guest post with the intention of actually providing value to the readers on the site, then you should be able to utilize them properly. Usually, the problem that Google has with massive guest posting is when they're only used for back linking.
I personally don't do any guest posting – but I will accept guest posting for traffic leaking purposes. The post will give me high quality content and I'll rank for the author's name. It will also help to create a relationship with a potentially new community and audience. My aim is to have the guest poster promote the guest post to their community and marketing channels as well. Therefore, gaining me brand exposure I need for the overall marketing, versus just thinking about the SEO benefits.
How much guest posting gets done does tend to change depending on exactly which vertical or niche I'm working in, but it's still something I'll use in campaigns. I don't do a ton of strictly SEO campaigns any longer, although when I stopped thinking about guest posts for SEO, it opened up my mind with better ways to leverage them. I mean, getting the link from a high DA/CF/TF domain is always great but getting your brand, product or service directly in front of a targeted audience can prove far more important in both the short and longer terms. Taking the time to properly craft your message and curate a list of targets not just based on SEO metrics but also on audience demographics and other factors can have a huge impact on any given campaign.
What’s one suggestion you’d give to anyone looking to succeed with SEO in 2015?
Pay attention to UX. Time after time I’ve been able to show results without doing any link building by just paying attention to UX. This might mean stripping a site down to bare bones and rebuilding it so it is easier to navigate and loads faster. I used to think of SEO in terms of keywords and link building. While those aspects of SEO are so very important, they don’t have nearly as much impact if the overall UX of your website is poor, hard to navigate, slow, and designed poorly. I know you only asked for one suggestion but I’d also like to reiterate structured data. Especially in industries such as e-commerce and local.
The one suggestion that I would have for SEO's in 2015 is the same that I would give anyone trying to get into SEO in general: promote the site naturally. If your website is getting 15,000 back links a day and is only adding one page of content a day that page of content better be the quality of an international news source. Don't outgrow the pace that your website should have. It needs to be natural in all ways. Just keep the process simple and promote the site how it should be promoted: by promoting the actual business and not just the website.
Trust in the data – it never lies. If you are an SEO and want to rank in a niche, you have to get within the norms of what the websites in the top positions are doing. That means on-site, off-site, and their own brand exposure. If you want to survive 2015 in SEO – you need to start reverse engineering what works and also truly understand what stopped working with your own data and tools versus listening to some rhetoric of some SEO blogger.
You have to come at SEO like a business instead of a hobby. You don't see other offline businesses using these ridiculous terms like "white hat" and "black hat" for their method of generating revenue. At the end of the day it's about generating traffic for your web properties – learn what's risky and what's not. Learn how to use micro-sites for more risky SEO methods, and stay clean with your main business. But even then as Negative SEO continues to increase, you'll have to start monitoring your niche and SERPs more and more to mitigate any potential problems. Most importantly – learn to diversify your traffic source. An offline business can't survive with one method of marketing, nor can your online business. There are tons of websites you can generate traffic from – not just Google and the social media giants, but niched out forums, blogs, and various platforms where your target audience visits. Learn to traffic leak – and look at the actual SERP data when it comes to SEO.
Stay forward-facing with your thinking and go out of your way to learn more, as well as find people you can learn from. I don't think people stick around in this industry very long without a "never stop learning" attitude, but how you stay learning is just as important. A group of colleagues and friends who will challenge you, whom you can bounce ideas off of will prove to be one of the most valuable resources you can have in your SEO toolkit.
There you have it! In order to excel with SEO in 2015, use some of the provided insights from highly experienced individuals.
Here’s a list of the suggestions:
- Consider integrating structured data
- SPAM will continue to decrease in value
- Use Guest Posting strategies for more than just the links
- Trust in the data, not the theories.
- Focus on User Experience
- Build a Business and you will succeed!