Some naysayers may insist that “Search Engine Optimization is extinct,” and “social is the new search.” SEO is still alive and well. It is morphing into a mixed media enterprise of traditional SEO techniques, content marketing, and social media enhancement. It has become more complex, and even more valuable. Google’s algorithm updates persisted constantly in 2014, leading to restlessness in some and mayhem among others. It has been Google’s goal to minimize the visibility of low-value sites, especially the pages with an abundance of keywords working in. Thankfully keywords are not the only way to increase site visibility and bring brand awareness through your website. There are many other great ways to optimize in 2015, here are just a few to get you going.
Semantic Search to Manage the Hummingbird
Hummingbird is Google’s new way to pay more attention to each word throughout a search, making sure the entire sentence or conversation is thumbed through. It’s not just looking at a few keywords anymore. Thus, the pages with the most meaning will be the highest rated sites.
Now that Hummingbird is focused on actual search meaning or intent, we should make sure to focus on larger word combinations that focus on the niche market.
We begin by determining different conversations people are likely to have when conducting a search for your business. For example, instead of trees, try phrases like Christmas trees, trees for new landscaping, or inexpensive trees for homes. If it is an option, shoot for phrases just as they might come up in conversation; for example, target where to buy young trees to plant.
The next thing to do is to categorize these phrases into three sections with distinct purposes: informational, navigational, and transactional. For informational searches, put together educational script that links to the proposed business page. For navigational searches, hummingbird is already searching for the brand name or site. Lastly transactional searches are anything with a commercial purpose that would have words like purchase, discount, or sell.
Conversational queries have grown over the past fifteen years to a point now that they have taken over the idea of just relying on keywords. The search queries people make are often typed in a question format where the search engine understands the question.
Moving forward, focusing on these conversational queries will only become increasingly important to successfully optimize sites. As previously demonstrated, these searches cannot have just one keyword but should be based on conversational keywords and Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords to properly cover your basis.
LSI keywords are very similar to synonyms of the keyword. When you are conducting your research, focus on the business keywords and the other words that it might be related to. For example, if I were looking at a plumber, I would also use keywords like plumbing and pipe cleaning.
LSI keywords additionally inform Google how keywords are related to one another. When when it locates a webpage containing “galaxy,” with keywords like “nexus” or “Lebron James,” it comprehends that the page is about Samsung, not the space galaxy.
Schema (Semantic) Markup
Most websites are built from structured databases that store all the data, making it difficult for search engines to navigate through the details. Thus, marking up the specific pages makes it easier for the search engines to properly understand the site and users to more readily access the site.
Schema.org is a website that does a great job of detailing the shared vocabulary amongst the major search engines. The process requires placing specific microdata into the HTML of the page to describe the content on the site. By placing these specific keywords, the searches will be able to better display the most important areas of the site directly on the search site, making it more likely that the users will click on the site because it is displaying exactly what they are looking for.
Semantic search evolves SEO
Instead of narrowing on a specific text and phrases, semantic search focuses at the wide range of LSI keywords, and conversation phrases users access identify your business. This has expanded what is possible when it comes to keyword searches, which has given new life to SEO companies.
Optimizing Mobile Devices
Google estimates, there is local desire on 50% of all mobile searches. When people are on their mobile devices and searching for something, they are highly likely looking for something nearby.
Mobile searches continue to grow each year as more and more people gain access to smartphones or tablets. The average smartphone now contains over 100 times the computing strength of a basic satellite. One study by BIA/Kelsey even estimates that in 2015 mobile searches will take over desktop searches.
It is vital today to have fully optimized sites for mobile devices because throughout the purchase process users will be using their smartphones. A Pew Research study found that over 50% of adolescents and young adults (12-29) use the Internet mainly on their cell phone. As the trends suggest, mobile computing is become more popular. Finding a way to target these users is challenging and requires revamping many sites in order to optimize a mobile site and not simply rely on a brick-and-mortar desktop built site.
The Mix Up in Social Signals
There is mixed information about social media websites with links and company information on them. How do they factor into searches? What is the correlation and direction from the search to the site?
What is important is that social media sites like Google+ or LinkedIn are High-Authority webpages, meaning they could possibly be ranked higher than a standard site. These webpages are access so frequently and inadvertently with a variety of viewers, that they are more likely to be viewed compared to small business site that requires direct searching for intended keywords.
When utilizing social media and optimizing these pages, it should be conducted in the overall marketing strategy. Not just a stand-alone sole focus. Sharing content produces backlinks, promotes increase viewership and generates searches for your business, thereby positively affecting your ranking.
Social media is a great way in your marketing strategy to increase your reach and increase your brand frequency because you are giving a variety of ways to get your brand name in the eyes of potential users. Having a good name and getting it out there is great, which makes it even more important to have a strong base website that will keep viewers. It goes hand in hand to have a strong company website, with an active social media presence to generate the flow.
Increased Importance of Earned Links
Paying for media is an expensive way to achieve a mediocre result. Earning your presence through high quality links and content will cause a lasting high-ranking site for a variety of keywords.
Search engines will almost guarantee that your site will be penalized when they determine you have paid for a content farms to increase the keywords. With the sophistication of the Google today, they see more of the phrases and eye the quality content over the paid link strategies.
Link earning, not building, has become the new strategy to create quality content. Link Assistant’s SEO SpyGlass will scan your competition’s backlinks to see why they are ranking where they are. This will allow you to size up the competition and see where you can create better links on your own site.
Broken link building is a difficult and valuable strategy where one hunts for broken links on those influential niche webpages then contacts the Webmaster to ask them to switch your link with the broken one.
SEO PowerSuite is one tool to conduct this marketing strategy through the broken links.
Two other ways to earn links is through editorial links and co-citation links. Utilizing authority sites and linking up with those pages will help to increase your ranking because you are building the associations. Editorial links are when someone else mentions your own business. When you bring original content to the web, you are rewarded. It can be through articles written, blogs, company events, non-profit work, or just about Co-citation is when your site has built the association to other authority sites. When it seems similar enough to the competition, and it continues to show up next to specific authority sites then it will build the association.
Citations, Citations, Citations
Whenever any part of your business is mentioned (phone number, address, name, employees, etc.) on a site that is not your own, then it is a citation. Citations continue to display to the search engines that you have a wide association to authority sites, meaning that yours just might be one of those sites. When other companies are relying upon your site for quality information and details, then your page will be ranked higher.
Local Citations are when there is the association with standard local businesses like restaurants, doctors, lawyers, etc. These types of companies should be listed on local directors like Yellow Pages, Yelp, Google+ Local, and any type of city listing pages.
Industry Citations are when a local company has a national reach and should build association with similar national companies. It should focus on their presence on sites where people looking for the businesses would access nationwide.
Niche Citations can be best found on different trade associations or mentions on blogs and industry discussions where there is constant chatter about the specific organizations.
See Past Custom Searches
Google searches are highly personal, so it can be challenging to get a good idea of the accuracy to how a page rank. There are just too many variations on the search possible. It doesn’t help to do your research just on your own from your own browser because the search engines take into account your browser history, likes, views, clicks, and all the rest. It would be a biased view of your ranking.
Additionally, where you are located and where you traditionally search influences what will pop up. If you were to search for restaurants, and you live in Los Angeles, almost assuredly restaurants in Los Angeles would appear because that is where you are traditionally searching.
Use professional services to get accurate information of your actual page rank. If not this, use a variety of sources to check your actual page rank. Do not simply rely on one random search of a few keywords to claim your page rank. There are too many keywords and search options.
Google recently stated that HTTPS would become a ranking factor. This means that websites that securely encrypt would get a boost in the Google rankings. Google is valuing secure data because it is more trustworthy and reliable, as well as protecting any transferred data, which leads to the overall health of the web.
Since it is a new factor, there is no requirement and it is not a highly weighed factor to the ranking. However, over time it will most likely become the norm and an increasingly important factor for the authoritative sites. It will show the quality of the site, when there is the securely encrypted data throughout.
It is simply good practice for any business to protect all information. Especially on any transactional site because there is such personal information coming in from all angles. Keeping this information safe is a great assurance for your customers and viewers. Plus it’s great for your Google ranking!
The SEO game is evolving constantly, and is looking new as we head to 2015. The focus continues from last year to be on the phrases and conversations of the users. With semantic search breaking onto the scene, mobile platform searches exploding and the relevance of social media sites, people can see the quality and depth of your content more readily than in 2014. Throughout all the trends, there continues to be a concentration on applicable high-value content that is well-organized and linked up to authoritative sites.
With over 12 years of experience, we’ve experienced practically every scenario and explored an extensive range of strategies for online marketing success. Our team of creative, driven and experienced professionals can help you get where you want to be.