We’re inching closer to Dec. 31, and that means 2014 is coming to an end. Before we start looking ahead at what’s to come for our industry in 2015, I’d like to take a little look back at what’s happened in the past year – and how it’s changed the way we, as digital marketers, work.
First up on the list is search engine optimization. Like most aspects of digital marketing, SEO has seen some significant changes over the last 12 months, and if you want your site to stay on top of the rankings, it’s important to keep track of these as you work on your campaigns.
Let’s do a little recap of the year’s top 5 trends:
Historically, back links have been one of the biggest factors in a site’s search engine ranking. Now, search engine algorithms are favoring social signals more – things like Facebook likes, Twitter retweets, Google +1’s and other similar actions. These show that users are actually interacting with the content – that it’s valuable and useful to them. And since search engine algorithms aim to deliver the most applicable information to users, social signals are a great way to gauge that effectively.
In 2014, Facebook wasn’t the only important social network around. Publishing to Google+ has now become a bona fide staple of any serious SEO campaign. One of the biggest reasons? When you share something on Google+ (say a link to one of your blog posts), it creates a new canonical URL for the content. This URL begins to gain traction and rankings all on its own, and as those rankings grow, they pass that link equity on to the original content – your blog. The +1’s on Google+ content are also factored into Google rankings, so they can help your site in that regard, too.
Blogging has long been a tool used for increasing SEO rank and traffic. But in years past, most sites leaned toward quantity, rather than quality. With the recent algorithm changes that happened in 2014, quality is now a far more important factor. While more posts may mean more links, better posts means more useful, pertinent information for the user – information they’ll share with others via social media, email or on their own sites. In this same vein, content has become lengthier, too. In 2013, most content came in around 500 words; this year, it was closer to 1,000 or more.
Since recent algorithm changes have gone into effect, Google seems to be favoring websites with a bigger variety of content. While blog posts are nice, sites that also have ebooks, white papers, videos, quizzes, checklists and other types of content are seeing a bigger jump in rankings than those who are more one-note.
We’ve been talking about it for years, but having a site that’s optimized for mobile (and for tablets and other devices) is absolutely crucial – especially to your SEO efforts. Google and other search engines give added weight to websites that are mobile-optimized. That means if your site is optimized for mobile, you’re already one step ahead of your non-mobile competitors – and that can mean a big difference in the long run. Plus, according to recent stats, when Americans are on the internet, 60 percent of the time it’s via their phones. And when you think about it, can you really afford to alienate 60 percent of your audience?
Are there any SEO trends you think we missed? Share them with us in the comments! Make sure to sign up for our blog notifications by entering your email above, too. We’ll be looking ahead at digital marketing and search engine optimization predictions for 2015 in the coming days.