Pro tip: Start online marketing campaigns with the fundamentals listed in Googles SEO Starter Guide.
SEO & SEM Changes That Will Impact Small Businesses Digital Marketing Campaigns
Whether you’re a small business owner new to SEO, SEM, and other forms of digital marketing or a seasoned veteran we are all trying to answer the same question.
“What will Google do next?”
Penguin, Panda, Pigeon, Hummingbird and surely more animals will join the update kingdom of the worlds most used search engine. Thanks to some formidable research on industry trends we have a good idea of what Google may change for search rankings in 2015:
- Keywords are going to have less and less value
- 250-400 words per page will NOT be recommended
- Mobile is Mandatory
- Build Brand Relationships
- Visual content will be more important than text
- Speed and Security are a part of SEO
We will break the theorized updates down one by one for you to analyze and incorporate into your digital marketing strategy.
Fundamental SEO Changes
For years search results have been tied to keywords, and manipulated by keywords, but things have changed. Google no longer values specific words and their density per page, but instead will look at your content as a whole piece. Local Businesses will rank higher for having more useful content than their competition. Many sites will need to be transformed from being useful for the business first to being useful for the user first or risk losing business.
2. 250-400 Words per page will not be recommended
Changing the recommended word count per page ties directly into the decrease in keyword value. A bit of information with a bunch of search terms has been great for a business, but not helpful to users. The goal will be to keep users on pages longer, as that directly correlates to the usefulness of that page. Content will need to be written with the reader in mind and that may mean more thoughtful descriptions and explanations. The internet has become more journalistic as shown in the New York Times Snowfall piece and will continue to adopt longer useful content as people become more comfortable reading online.
E-Readers like this are helping people become more comfortable reading longer texts online, and point towards a future where non backlit screens may be available on all devices.
3. Mobile is Mandatory
If your business wants to do better, it needs to be optimized for mobile devices. Take out your smart phone and go to your website, or any website if you’re not sure whether it’s optimized. It should be a near flawless rendition of the main site that’s easy to read and easy to use. If it’s not, then a responsive site should be one of your main concerns for 2015. Check out New Media Sources on your mobile device to see a responsive site in action. The site seamlessly adjusts to fit any screen from mobile phones to desktop computers. The Gif below shows the difference between relative units which adjust to the to width of all of your devices and static units which will only fit one device.
Traffic from mobile devices is growing, and won’t stop growing in the near future. New developments in wearable technology allow users to access the web from anywhere on smart watches, glasses, and other such devices. It may seem like a lot of work, but you will be opening your business up to over 50% of internet traffic, with more and more people making mobile purchases everyday. A worthy investment for most entrepreneurs looking to acquire new customers in 2015. The teams at Google & Nielsen have put together a great guide to the mobile purchase path for you to consider.
The best part is Google already puts significant value in responsive websites! If you’re not on the responsive website train, you probably should get on before it leaves you and your business at the proverbial station.
Advanced SEO Changes
4. Build brand relationships
Many sites already have good content, but are searching for a way to move on from their current plateau. Fortunately for us, SEO & Digital Marketing experts have ideas on how you can take your business to the next level. Simply put, the idea is to focus on building relationships. The best brands are able to plant an idea that connects with the audience and is allowed to grow within prospective customers. Have a look at one of Apples Christmas advertisements as an example.
As you can see it’s not about features as much as it’s about emotions. The idea that this product, which is barely shown I might add, enables you to evoke strong emotions and express love to people you care about. The emotional value of your content drives interaction across social media. I don’t think it says “Make your loved ones cry tears of happiness” on the box, but I wonder if it will in some form one day.
5. Visual content will be more important than text
This may seem counter intuitive to traditional SEO tactics that focus on keywords phrases and link building, but search today and even more in the future will be driven by content & usability. A key feature of any good piece of content are its visual aspects. People learn and absorb information online in different ways, textually, visibly, audibly, and tactually, or by touch. If we consider that about 80% of communication is visual, it’s easy to see how important the visual representation of your service, brand, or product can be.
The real mystery is how Google will index visual content for it’s value to certain topics. They already have algorithms to show visually similar images based on what appears to be colour and composition, but we still aren’t quite sure how images will be ranked without supporting descriptions or other text. Perhaps one way will be similar to the author tag Google uses for content, but for well established photographers. Essentially giving importance to content from creative leaders such as Vito Salvatore for a particular industry or in just general. We know that well designed user interfaces improve user experience and that is something that can help drive and keep traffic on your site.
6. Speed and Security are a part of SEO
Optimized Search Rankings directly correlate to an optimized website. Fast speed and good security provide the best chance for a positive experience to be had on your website. Mobile use is driving the speed revolution as you need a site that will be available quickly anywhere, on any device, with slow or fast connections. Increasing speed will tell your mobile users you are ready for their business and understand their needs. Increased security via HTTPS has shown minimal improvements in SEO rankings to date, but it’s just the beginning of a new important trend for search. One of the main reasons we should move to HTTPS is its integration with Google’s SPDY protocol also known as HTTP/2. If you’re not sure what SPDY is, it’s simply an update to the HTTP1.1 standard from 1999 that required us to make one request for each resource as shown below.
If this is confusing here’s a cooking analogy. You want to make a nice meal. Normally we would gather all the ingredients we need and cook our meal and proceed. With HTTP1.1 every time we need a new ingredient we have to go all the way back to the grocery store to get it! Luckily we can have multiple people driving back and forth from the grocery store to pick up the ingredients, but would it not be easier to go to the store and pick up all of the things we need before starting to cook?
That’s what HTTP/2 is trying to do for our websites. At their core, speed and security are helping to improve user experience, and the best part is you can implement these tactics today! HTTP/2 is already supported across many browsers both desktop and mobile. Preemptive changes can save time and money down the road if and when an important update occurs potentially creating lost business.
Wrapping Up Our 2015 SEO Guidelines
We’ve covered some major changes to the principles of SEO for 2015 including keywords, content and mobile. Plus some cutting edge ideas like HTTP/2, and the importance of visuals & brand relationships. If you or your business already implement some or all of these tactics then you’re definitely on the right track, but search is an ever evolving entity. Keep looking for news and updates from industry leaders and your business will surely benefit from the added knowledge.
If you’re looking to incorporate these techniques into a business, the best thing to do is work from top down:
- Focus on your content first
- Engage mobile users
- Build brand relationships
- Work hard on supporting visuals
- Optimize for speed & security
The suggestions above are just a portion of all the different on and off page tactics needed for a successful digital marketing campaign. These techniques are most often done with the help of an agency and it’s always wise to speak with professionals about what’s best for your individual company before getting started. Let us know what you have to say in the comments and thanks for reading.