2014 – the year content was, and still is king! Yawn…
Great content is useful, enjoyable and often inspired – but “great content” is one of the basic requirements. It’s not a tactic or strategy, it’s just plain old good marketing.
So, if you’re not already writing good content then you’re way behind the curve. In fact, it’s time for a rethink. There aren’t any logical excuses to avoid good content in 2015, unless of course you’re attempting to merely game the system. Undertaking SEO with the sole intention of improving keyword rankings has been irrelevant for a while and “just creating good content” is following that trend.
So can we stop hyping “Content is King” now?
Thankfully, with Google’s aggressive and more frequent algorithm roll-outs, blackhat SEO tactics will become ever more difficult and hopefully a thing of the past.
Traditionalists rely on keyword researched titles, keyword rich on-page elements, placement of external links, biased internal linking structures and optimised images.
The New Breed of Search Engine Optimisers work on producing good content that has a relevant title, is written naturally and avoids being over-optimised.
The future – Well, are we eventually going to see Google rank pages that are not optimised at all (let alone perfectly) if they answer the user’s query?
Sam Hurley from Midas suggests that we should “Stop focusing on keywords. Create a contextual content harmony. Provide value to your visitors when they hit your site”.
Technical SEO is mandatory
A sound SEO strategy in 2014 is one that starts with your website. That means squeaky clean on-page optimisation, solid architecture with the appropriate redirects in place, a lack of dead links and of course the appropriate schema mark-up.
Furthermore, eradicating thin content and duplicate content should be high up on your 2015 “to-do list”. “Panda algorithmic update reinforces the fact that Google is not a fan of thin content and that it crawls efficiently along with serving clear and direct data messages to Google are becoming more important than ever”. Every page should serve a purpose for your audience.
Indeed, technical SEO is still incredibly important but it’s not enough on it’s own – again, as with quality content, sound on-page SEO should be expected.
Work on Your Indexed Pages
One topic that often flies under the radar is website indexing in the SERPs… stay awake at the back!
Okay it’s the not the most exciting of subjects, but there’s always room to improve and finesse what you already have.
If you’re struggling to rank, consider reducing your Google index bloat by condensing or redirecting like for like (similar content) to maximise your crawl budget and avoid competing with yourself. Don’t neglect older posts, optimising your existing content based on visitor data works to your advantage too.
Indexing becomes more important by the day as Google “steals” more traffic from you as it shows more of your content directly on SERPs (e.g. the knowledge graph).
Backlinks are Dead
Logic needs to precede the whole backlink argument. There’s constant talk of links becoming less important with every algorithm change. Contrary to popular belief, I feel backlinks will only become more important with time.
I must stress I’m a quality over quantity kinda’ guy, or both if you can get it.
Let’s put that in to context. Would you agree a backlink that is relevant, providing traffic and exhibiting solid user signals and shares, adds value and authority to a website?
Logically then, it stands to good reason that Google is continuously looking for an edge to filter out all the noise. Understanding the context of a backlink in line with user actions and expectations is arguably an unwritten rule of the latest algorithms.
I’m not sitting on the fence with this one – I think this is happening already.
The Key Takeaways for SEO in 2015
- It should go without saying (because it’s been drilled in to us so much), that high quality content should be the foundation to any website. That means original, user friendly content that is worthy of people’s time.
- Your on-page technical SEO should also be flawless. Black hat techniques need not to be applied and thin content needs to get the sack. Tidy up your sitemap, site structure and redirects.
- Alternative Search Engines are flavour of the month. With Firefox’s default adoption of Yahoo, whose search results are delivered by Bing, there’s more room at Google’s table. Consider Bing’s own Webmaster Guidelines as your new play book for extending your search reach in to 2015. If Bing isn’t part of your strategy, perhaps it’s time to reconsider?
- Backlinks are still key to ranking but if Google is measuring user experience then it stands to reason they’re doing so from referral traffic too.
That means any link that cites you should not only be relevant but deliver traffic that engages with your content. Higher quality traffic beats bulk/gamed low attention traffic every time.
- Social signals will continue to form a solid basis on which to understand the quality of content, regardless of how often Google may wish to deny it. Outreach, curation and relationship building across your chosen social channels should be key to your ongoing SEO strategy.
- User signals and visitor quality is the new black. Consider the anatomy of the perfect page. Ensure you website is optimised for mobile and fast page speed across all platforms. Expectations should be that your visitors don’t exhibit a high bounce rate and stick around long enough to digest your information.
Give yourself a fighting chance to be better than the average by joining the dots for users i.e. a SERP title and META description that’s cohesive to the landing page, delivering content worthy of their time.
It stands to reason that a technically sound page with great content and social signals to back it up, are only beneficial for your website.
Remember, getting leverage by merely posting articles is difficult. Outreach is the key to success. The lines between SEO and PR are merging ever-closer!
So, It’s Business As Usual Then?
You’ve heard this all before, right? Sure, 2015 is looking decidedly like 2014 for the most part – albeit for Google [highly likely] considering usability way more than they tell us. What is becoming more apparent with time is that SEO is no longer a standalone, backlink acquiring discipline. SEO requires a combined strategy, one that is content driven, socially amplified and that delivers a high value user experience.
The biggest single takeaway from this should be, find the average – be better – keep improving until you’re way better. In other words, do all the good stuff but go beyond with skyscraper content, get your SERP click-through rates up, bring your bounce rates down and be faster to load than everyone else around you.
Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.