Sujan Patel is the VP of Marketing at thisCLICKS, the makers of When I Work – an employee scheduling software solution for small businesses.
Any good marketer or business owner trying to leverage the Web to connect with more prospective customers knows that SEO is always changing. As the new year approaches, it’s a good idea to to study up on current and future marketing, advertising, and SEO trends.
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Here’s what you need to know about SEO going into 2015:
Focus on quality, not speed or quantity
Long-form content and content curation continues to be a crucial aspect of SEO, especially because search engines are beginning to show an emphasis on longer, well-researched content.
A few years ago, Google began displaying “in-depth” results on search engine result pages (SERPs), which were usually content that was over 1,500 words. This was part of the shift for content marketers and SEOs to start focusing more on high quality content instead of publishing as many pieces of content as possible, as quickly as possible.
When SEO was in its earlier stages, getting as much content onto your site (and others in the form of article databases or guest blogging wherever you could), without any specific regard to quality or usefulness to the end user, could actually influence your website’s rank in search results.
Look for user experience over personal taste
This greater emphasis on providing users with content that actually gives them what they are looking for by search engines and SEOs alike has also lead to another trend that has developed into a more important best practice: providing the highest quality user experience possible.
Google has cracked down on this as well, and now it’s a necessity in 2015 and beyond for SEOs to work with graphic and Web designers to create the best user experience possible. From optimized, clear and concise content to navigation that is easy to understand, great user experience is just as important to SEO as it is to website design.
The easier it is for a user to navigate a website, the easier it will be for a search engine spider to crawl, usually leading to more indexed pages, which are also indexed more quickly as well.
The need for great Web design that displays well on a variety of formats also has brought about the trend of responsive design (and HTML 5, as mentioned in the above article), which optimizes its layout and display depending on the device the user is accessing the website from (whether it’s a computer, tablet or smartphone).
Responsive design also allows for many SEO benefits, including utilizing a single URL (instead of having a separate .mobi or m.domain.com mobile site) and a lower bounce rate due to optimized content display, which makes it easier to read.
Let your online audience guide you
The user experience also goes beyond website design when it comes to SEO in 2015. What the user is looking for dictates what many SEOs are focusing on going forward.
For instance, if a few users on Facebook or Twitter complain about a lack of content on service pages of a website, then SEOs know they need to write more robust content that’s going to be more useful to the user. Pay attention to what users are saying on social media, in blog comments and even online feedback surveys to determine what information on your website is useful and what isn’t.
You can also utilize your users and online audience to gauge what search optimization to add to a website. For instance, looking at the most popular entrance and exit pages in Google Analytics can help SEOs see what pages need to be better optimized.
Other examples include…
Cross-referencing blog post titles with website traffic patterns to see if numbers, length, or word choice makes a difference in traffic
Looking at call-to-actions and conversion markers to see where users drop off and how that can be modified for improvement
Examining 404 errors in Google or Bing Webmaster Tools and cleaning up broken links and pages
As user tracking and analytics continue to get more robust, examining online audience behavior and feedback will have a significant impact on SEO strategy in 2015.
As the SEO industry continues to grow, best practices may become more prevalent and easier to maintain. While the basic best practice of providing the best experience for the user hasn’t changed, the strategy on how to do that sometimes differs for each industry or website.
Focus on what works best for your website or organization through data and engagement tracking, and you will be able to see what’s best moving forward into 2015.
Read next: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of SEO