It’s that time of year again when we’re all winding down in preparation for the holidays whilst wondering what next year will bring. This year we’ve seen a few changes in digital marketing with the usual death knolls being rung for SEO and even for Facebook, thanks to the social network’s announcement that gaining organic reach is going to be even harder. There’s little doubt that SEO too has become more difficult this year, as Google scrapped the Authorship program, banned guest posting for SEO and released yet more algorithm updates.
#1: Link Building Will be More Difficult
Thanks to banning guest posting for SEO, linking building has become an even more difficult job than it was before with many editors trashing guest post requests at the first inquiry. Next year it’s likely that links will be even more difficult to obtain as editors play it safe and put nofollow links on everything.
According to Forbes, and thanks to a recently discovered patent submission, it’s thought that Google will place more emphasis next year on brand mentions. The patent sets out that Google now differentiates between what it calls ‘express links’ and ‘implied links’. Express links are just normal, everyday followed links that we all like to gain for our link profiles. Implied links can include a brand mention that doesn’t actually link back to a site. Thanks to the abuse seen in link building, Google will place more emphasis on brand mentions as these are much more difficult to manipulate.
“Over the course of 2015, we’ll see more businesses measuring and tracking brand mentions and nofollowed links, and we’ll discover that these are becoming just as important as “dofollow” links for search rankings,” said Jayson DeMers, writing for Forbes.
It was bound to happen at some point. Link building remains an important part of SEO but the abuse it’s suffered through black hat practices was always going to have an impact.
#2: Content Will Continue to Be Important
Content marketing has seen a steady rise in popularity in recent years and this isn’t likely to slow any next year. However, it’s not just written content that will be the king of the internet, visual content is important and video content is on the rise. Video is becoming increasingly important due to the sheer volume of it that we consume on mobile devices, so if you currently haven’t worked it into your 2015 strategy, then do so now.
Long form content could also see a rise as recent research from Buzzsumo showed that it performs better and gains more shares the longer the content is. This is likely to be because not many content providers produce long form content and so it’s more valuable to the reader as they don’t come across it every day.
#3: Marketing & SEO Will Become More Integrated
As I mentioned earlier, this year has seen the usual predictions that SEO is dying which have become somewhat tiresome now as they’ve been doing the rounds for a good few years. SEO is not going anywhere; it’s changing yes, and it’s now much more integrated with other marketing disciplines than it has been in the past. Content marketers need to know about SEO, as do social media marketers and the nature of an SEO professional’s job is also changing. It’s likely this year that we’ll see a strong return of technical SEO as mobile forces marketers to look at issues such as performance and change tactics. SEO and SEM naturally evolve due to the nature of the internet and search. Next year is likely to see more emphasis put on voice search by Google, especially as wearable technology really starts to take off, so it’s likely that we’ll see changes made by SEOs to accommodate that.
#4: It’ll All Be About Mobile
The rise of mobile devices has revolutionised the way that we browse the internet and consume content. Since mobile is only becoming even more popular each year, it’s safe to say that it’s not going anywhere soon. 2015 will see a bigger emphasis placed on the performance of mobile sites and those that are slow and clunky will miss out.
If you take a look at your Webmaster Tools account, you’ll see that a new item has been added for mobile usability. And if this isn’t enough to convince you of the importance of mobile to Google, then check out the image below which shows a Google warning for slow sites in mobile search results.
(Image: Venture Beat)
As you can see, the above results include a small graphic of a mobile device with a line through which serves as a warning to mobile users that the site isn’t particularly mobile-friendly. So it’s important that mobile and responsive sites load quickly and have good UX if you want to perform well in search in 2015.
As usual, there are a lot of predictions flying around the net on what next year has in store for marketers. For those who keep up with the latest trends, there’s no real surprises though. One that I’ve come across quite a lot in my research suggests that a worrying trend for next year is a rise in the amount of negative SEO that we see. With this in mind, it’s worth thinking about reputation management and securing link profiles so that it can be proved that the brand has a healthy approach to link building. We’ve seen a rise in the practice this year, so the idea that it’s going to get worse next shouldn’t surprise anyone and good marketers will already be aware of it and the damage it can do.
2015 is bound to be an exciting year for marketers as technology continues to deliver new platforms, gadgets, techniques and software to help make life a little easier. From all of us at XEN Systems, we hope you all have a very prosperous year.