SEO for 2015: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

February 3rd, 2015 by Search Influence Alumni

The world of SEO is constantly changing. Google, the big prize for search engine ranking, may change its search algorithms from 500 to 600 times a year, and major updates like Panda, Penguin, and Pigeon are rolled out on a fairly regular basis. And while your business can’t shift SEO strategies daily to incorporate every change Google unveils, it makes sense to take a fresh look at your SEO approach at least annually—or does it?

The answer is yes, and no. While there are some aspects of SEO that can and should be refreshed or updated to keep up with changing algorithms and your audience’s needs and tastes, the good news for online marketers is that the basic SEO strategies you’re already familiar with will continue to be effective—in 2015 and beyond.

Here’s a look at what will change in the SEO landscape for 2015 and what will remain the same.

Sticking to the basics still works

Best practices for SEO strategies have always revolved around delivering high-quality, targeted, and useful content with a few well-chosen, naturally incorporated keywords—and for 2015, that won’t change. Google-sanctioned “white hat” SEO tactics continue to be the most effective strategies for driving SEO and boosting search engine rankings.

Another basic element of SEO that will remain the same is the need for both on-page (what you say about yourself) and off-page (what others say about you) factors. Successful SEO includes creative, useful, and engaging content creation for your website, social media, and other online channels, along with promotion that drives off-page SEO by attracting links to your content from other authoritative sites.

Going mobile will be an imperative

By now, most companies are aware that a responsive, mobile-friendly website is essential for attracting and retaining customers—but mobile SEO is more important than ever when it comes to Google. Responsive site design will be a crucial aspect of ranking high on Google, since the search engine now reports whether or not a site is mobile-friendly to both users and webmasters.

If you’re not sure whether your business website is mobile-friendly enough, Google offers a free online testing tool, along with a link to information about their mobile-friendly criteria and how it may affect your search engine results.

For small business, local SEO will be king

In 2015, it will be important for businesses—especially small businesses—to make sure their websites are optimized for local area searches. Google and other search engines are giving more attention to local directories and citations, including hyperlocal content (relevant content authored by local experts within their geographic areas).

One effective SEO strategy for optimizing local search is to make sure your phone numbers, addresses, and location pages are consistent with off-page directory listings. If you haven’t done so already, check out third-party business directory and review websites such as Yelp, Google+, and Yahoo Business to ensure that your local information is correct.

Thinking like a publisher will benefit your SEO

As search engine algorithms continue to shift weight away from obvious marketing and promotional content and toward contextual relevance, individuals are becoming more important than companies with regard to search engine rank. To take advantage for SEO improvement, more companies are transferring authorship credit to individuals—including text article writers, infographic designers, and video and podcast producers. Giving content creators their own voice will lend your content more weight with search engines.

Links and keywords will lose center stage

For a long time, keywords and links have been the cornerstones of SEO. But with a massive shift toward contextual search and high-value content, these primary factors no longer carry the same weight. Inbound and outbound links still matter for search, but their importance has been dwindling as more algorithms place relevance over popularity and authority.

The same shift is apparently underway with keywords. While a few well-chosen and well-placed keywords still serve to help search engines determine the overall meaning of a page or piece of content, it’s more important that your content answers the right user questions and remains useful and engaging.

If you’ve been sticking to SEO best practices, your strategy for 2015 is likely to only require minor changes in order to remain effective for the coming year and beyond.