Thanks to Google's recent updates, the face of SEO has changed significantly once again. Last year, saw new Panda, Penguin and Pigeon updates, not to mention many of the 'traditional' ways of managing SEO falling by the wayside. As a consequence, it's vital to adapt your practices to keep up with the changes, or risk falling behind.
Now is the ideal time to start preparing your SEO campaign for 2015, and focus on just how you're going to move your website up through Google rankings. Here's a few thoughts, tips and techniques to help you.
SEO Resolutions for 2015
Get to Know Panda.If you're not already familiar with Panda, now is a good time to get to know this important algorithm. Basically, Panda seeks to penalise sites that place unoriginal, low-quality content on their pages. As a result, you should make it your focus to ensure that your content is fresh, original and genuinely offers something of interest to your users.
- Expert content. If you're not a confident writer, hire someone who is; as it will benefit your site in the long run.
- Don't copy or spin. Google particular dislikes spun or copied content. It's vital to keep it fresh.
- Avoid minimal content. If you've got pages without much information on them, now is the time to get rid of them, or add content quickly.
- Mark canonical pages.If you've got a lot of URLs with really similar content, make sure you tell the search engines which pages should be noted as the standardised version by adopting the rel="canonical" attribute. Don't use this in the main body section of the web page.
It's time to go local.One of the most significant developments last year was the Pigeon update; which affects local search results. The main change is that local rankings now depend more heavily on site authority. If you're unsure about your site authority, ask a professional web designer or web management company to check for you.
Think of your users before you think of the search engines.Google ranks sites well that look after their users, and take the time to consider user experience.
- Keep users on the page. If your bounce-back rate is high, this will adversely affect your rankings; so make sure you provide your users with relevant content on the page they land on.
- Get up to speed. Slow sites are frustrating for users, and you'll be penalised if yours takes too long to load.
- Make it secure. Last year, Google announced that HTTPs usage would be recognised as a positive ranking signal. However, if you are transferring from HTTP to HTTPs, make sure you hire someone who knows what they are doing, as it can harm your rankings.
Make it easy for the search engines to find you.Believe it or not, the search engines actively want to rank your site. But they won't be able to if you don't make it easy for them to do so. Here's a checklist of things you need to do, in order to make your site easy to locate and access.
- Make it logical. Pages should be arranged logically and in a clear order.
- Prioritise the home page. All important content should be accessible from your home page.
- Appropriate URLs. Make sure your URLs reflect the structure of your website.
- Get a search box. Make life easier for your users by adding a search box.
- Use your Sitemap and RSS feeds. Think of your Sitemap as a helpful guide, pointing search bots to the relevant information on your site. Likewise, an RSS feed helps keep search engines notified about your fresh content.
- Whatever you do, don't cram several pages into one drop-down menu. Keep content orderly and easy to access. Think about user experience. Your website needs to be easy to navigate, and shouldn't leave users scratching their heads in puzzlement and frustration.
Backlink in accordance to Penguin.
The Penguin algorithm is there to stop people using low-quality backlinks. In 2015, it's all about keeping your backlinks as high-quality and organic as possible.
- Get editorial. The best backlinks are those that come from others referring to or sharing your content. So make sure your content inspires them to do so!
- Don't build links too fast. Your backlinks need to look authentic, so build them at a steady pace.
- Skip low-quality links. Low quality links will not help your site in the long term, and are likely to get you penalised. Likewise, avoid link networks.
Work on your social presence.
There's no doubt about it, social media can help with your ranking, providing you approach it in the right way. Google issued a statement, indicating that it responds to social posts in exactly the same way as it does standard web pages, so it definitely makes sense to get to work on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and other social sites.
Encourage sharing. Shared content helps with ranking, so make it easy for your followers to share with others.
- Add social buttons. Ensure your customers know about your social presence by adding social buttons to the home page of your site.
- Go viral. If possible, try to generate content that is highly likely to be shared with large numbers of people.
- Don't buy followers. Purchasing followers, though tempting if you've only just set up a social media account, is a definite waste of time, and Google is likely to pick up on your lack of authentic 'likers'!
A vast proportion of the global population now regularly use their Smartphones and tablets to search online. As a result, it's imperative to have a site that is mobile-friendly. If this wasn't incentive enough, Google also uses mobile-friendliness as a ranking factor.
- Easy to navigate. Your site needs to be easy to explore, whatever the device.
- Clear to read. Content should not need to be zoomed into in order to access.
- No Flash. Avoid using non-mobile friendly technology, such as Flash.
Don't ignore the other search engines.
The vast majority of businesses tend to focus solely on Google; but Google's monopoly as the sole search engine of choice may be under threat in 2015. Yahoo has recently made a deal with Firefox to be their default search engine, and has enjoyed significant market share increase in the last few years; so it may be worth ensuring you're well ranked on Yahoo too.
Achieving Results in 2015
Of course, it's impossible to predict just what Google updates lie around the corner. However, it would seem that the emphasis for fresh, relevant content is still prevalent, as is the importance of good user experience and authentic, high-quality backlinks. Now is the time to get working on your SEO strategy for the New Year… best of luck!