What will Search Engine Optimization look like in 2015? It's become something of a tradition for SEO professionals to come up with their predictions at the end of each year: are we looking at a full-scale revolution or a few minor changes? Here's what I think we're in for in 2015...
SEO will be (almost) the same in 2015
Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, Caffeine ... Although Google is always telling us about its latest algorithm updates, SEO in general remains largely the same, with, of course, a few developments here and there. As the saying goes, if the algorithm ain't broke, don't fix it.
As far as I can see, Google Search is striving to achieve two goals:
- To make its users happy by displaying high-quality, relevant results
- To increase revenue from these search results through AdWords
Google's aim is not to provide you with free traffic, generating more free traffic is the purpose of SEO. I think it's vital to make this distinction.
Since 1998, Google's algorithm 'recipe' has used more or less the same ingredients:
- Relevance (how well your website corresponds to the search query)
- Popularity (how many links direct towards your site)
Given Google's worldwide monopoly over the market, this strategy is clearly working, so I see no reason why Google would decide to rethink its algorithm.
So, my prediction for 2015 is that SEO will continue to develop along much the same lines (an opinion shared by Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz on his blog.
So, how will SEO develop exactly?
Here at PrestaShop, we are committed to discussing e-commerce with e-merchants. Since SEO is an essential growth tool for small stores, I have put together my list of predictions for the future of e-commerce SEO.
2015 will be all about mobile
Back in early 2014, Matt Cutts had already predicted that numbers of search requests sent from mobile devices would surpass those of PCs.
Likewise in the UK, Internet Retailer announced in September, that mobile and tablet traffic to its retail site had overtaken that of PCs.
Below you can see a comparison of global traffic from PCs, smartphones and tablets compiled by StatCounter.
If you play around a bit on the StatCounter website and filter the results by country, you will in fact see that mobile is already the dominant channel in certain markets. I'm especially thinking of India here, where mobile is leagues ahead of the rest, accounting for 70% of total traffic. But whatever your target location, the trend is catching.
You should also bear in mind that more and more people are using their smartphones while watching TV.
The mobile and tablet boom is well and truly underway, and to come back to SEO, Google – who is also seeing growth in mobile traffic – wants to satisfy its users by providing as many mobile-compatible hits as possible. That's why Google favors online retailers with mobile sites, to the detriment of those who are still only desktop-ready.
In the US, Google already displays a site's mobile compatibility right from the SERP (Search Engine Result Page):
According to Gary Illyes, in order to receive this little 'mobile-friendly' badge of honor on results pages, all you need to do is take the Google Webmaster Mobile-Friendly Test. This tool will let you see whether your site is mobile-friendly and if it meets Google's criteria:
Take the mobile test
If you want to delve even deeper, I recommend reading this G+ blog post by John Mueller, which does just that.
My Mobile SEO recommendation for 2015
You will need a mobile-friendly version of your online store. If you want to continue developing your SEO, you have two main options: using a responsive design template (whereby layout changes according to the viewing environment), or a dedicated mobile site, i.e. http://m.example.com.
- All of PrestaShop's responsive design templates
- The Shopgate solution for creating a dedicated mobile site
My Mobile SEO prediction
I anticipate that in 2015, or latest 2016, 100% of all Google results matching queries made from a smartphone will be mobile-friendly. In other words you'll no longer see desktop sites on your smartphone.
An HTTP-secure year
Google's other main campaign for 2014 was to urge websites to switch over to HTTPS from HTTP. They even added it as a ranking signal in their search algorithm.
But don't get ahead of yourself by thinking this alone will get you on the first page of Google results! However, since every little bit helps, why not give it a try?
My Security SEO recommendation
Switch your online store to HTTPS in 2015.
Back to basics
So, here is why I mentioned SEO evolution... although SEO is undergoing constant change, the process of optimizing your website for Google searches remains largely the same:
To come first, you need to have the best content with the best links.
Start by identifying keywords
Your New Year's resolutions for SEO-friendly content
You should also make sure the titles and descriptions you use on product and category pages are properly formulated to maximize SERP CTR and conversion.
My Link Building recommendation for 2015
Half the battle when creating a good SEO strategy is getting linking right. But that doesn't just mean optimizing the tags used in your online store or writing a few blog posts; to increase your SEO in 2015, you will still need links, but they will have to be good quality.
What Google is doing to e-commerce sites with poor links
Google has declared all-out war on websites selling links, and has even reported them in its Webmaster Guidelines violations. From a legal standpoint, even though Google doesn't make the law, it really does rule over the Internet, so I would recommend taking extreme precaution if you don't want to get caught by PENGUIN.
In the meantime, here are a few Link Building tips for 2015
- Don't construct your own link building if you don't know what you're doing.
- Enlist the help of an SEO agency or professional.
- Don't use (or stop using) link-selling sites.
- Don't optimize by using keyword-rich anchor text such as my keyword.
- Use unique anchors or ones that contain the name of your website, for example.
- Think about consistency with websites that redirect to you or your online store.
- If you're still in the habit of exchanging links with other websites, stop right now!
- Don't get led into believing that link building is just about inserting a few links into blog comments, forum posts or directories.
- Remember that a good link is one that will bring in traffic.
- Use links that direct to different pages of your website.
Finally, know that it's not true that you need to pay to have links. Remember that your product pages and your blog content can provide you with links just by being top quality.
My SEO tracker for 2015
Any SEO expert will tell you that, if you want to get better at SEO, you need carry out a daily inspection of specialist blogs. Below are a few sites I recommend you check out in 2015.
Googlers to follow in 2015
https://www.google.com/+MattCutts (if he returns to Google)
List of SEO blogs to follow
Some more general web marketing and content marketing sites