2014 was another fast-paced year in the world of SEO. From the new preference towards SSL-encrypted (HTTP) websites to the destruction of Google authorship, there was no end to the surprises. The year included at least 3 major updates to the Panda algorithm, changes to local search, and a number of other tweaks. In case it isn't clear, last year's SEO strategy can't be recycled for the year to come.
Here are a few data-driven observations on how SEO has changed recently, and some expert tips on how to accommodate them:
Consumers Are Pickier
There is nothing new or novel about the Internet. Google search is about to turn 20, and consumers are well-accustomed to performing product and service research via branded content. As SEO thought leader Rand Fishkin recently highlighted in a presentation, today's consumers demand a certain level of experience from websites. This includes:
- High-quality, informative content marketing
- An intuitive user experience
- Rapid-quick load times and mobile responsiveness
If you think SEO is still a matter of keyword matching and including meta descriptions, you're unfortunately pretty far off base. Search engines now take an estimated 200 or more factors into account when ranking web pages. While some experts have purportedly compiled a list of ranking factors, the truth is it's just speculation. The best thing you can do for your SEO copywriting in 2015 is take a comprehensive approach to developing a high-quality, user-friendly web experience.
It's Not All About Google
In one of the biggest tech scandals in recent weeks, the web browser Firefox "broke up" with Google. The browser will now default to Yahoo search. Facebook graph search is powered by Bing. Some experts are taking it as a sure sign that Google won't be the only search engine to consider next year. Entrepreneur Jonathan Long recently recommended that you should consider Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo in your SEO copywriting, and we tend to agree.
While many of the principles of creating quality content through SEO copywriting are the same for all major search engines, there are some subtle differences, too. Bing does not support canonical tags, and indexes a smaller volume of web content. Perhaps most importantly, you could find yourself not indexed by Bing or Yahoo if your domain authority is too low. It's certainly something to keep in mind over the months to come.
Your Site Must Be Trustworthy
While few SEO copywriters are information security enthusiasts, it's crucial to understand Google's recent moves towards web security. In mid-2014, the search giant announced they would be giving preference to sites with "strong HTTPs encryption". If your site isn't using HTTPs for security, you should probably recommend it to your IT department. But even more importantly, you should keep in mind that this move was a strong move in search engine's battles against spam.
To integrate SEO copywriting with a strategy for a site that couldn't possibly be construed as spam, it's important to understand some of the top signs of questionable sites:
- Awkwardly-written and poorly-edited SEO copywriting
- Excessive banner advertising or calls-to-action
- Poor image placement or irrelevant images
- Excessive broken links or strange outbound links.
Even if your heart is in the right place, being guilty of any of these spammy habits can seriously defray the results of your content marketing efforts. Without fail, your website should always install trust in consumers and search engines.
Become Familiar with Domain Strategy
Are you thinking about your content marketing campaigns on an article-by-article, or page-by-page basis? That could actually harm your SEO in the year to come. As Fishkin recently pointed out, search engines are increasingly focused on domain authority. If your website rarely covers freelance writing, you'll struggle to rank for it even if your article was extraordinarily original and well-researched.
This phenomenon has given rise to something called domain strategy. It's a matter of looking at your brand's online presence as a whole when it comes to SEO copywriting. Truthfully, the differences between SEO copywriting for a sound domain strategy and great marketing are very minimal. In order to build your domain's authority within your vertical you should:
- Carefully define your brand's voice, tone, and unique identifiers
- Define and document the topics and concepts that fall within your scope
- Perform keyword research to understand how consumers identify your brand
- Create a wide variety of high-quality content for your buyers.
Does exceptional SEO copywriting for 2015 seem much different than it did a year ago? Absolutely. However, I don't believe there's much to be worried about. Marketers with a comprehensive content strategy, well-balanced web presence and affinity for research can expect to succeed.
What changes will you make to your SEO strategy in 2015? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments!