With the right SEO, businesses can be highly successful in what they do in this digital age. With the frequent updates and changes in search engine algorithms, some entrepreneurs consider SEO a formidable challenge, while others have the attitude of taking it as it comes. Google has evolved considerably, and many view the frequent algorithm changes, to be a good thing, as it rewards good content and discourages devious SEO tactics. Google obviously has plans to evolve much further and bring in many changes. It would be good to evaluate what will influence SEO in the near future, and what aspects might lose their importance in creating an effective SEO strategy.
Aspects that will Influence SEO in the Near Future
Content and Writer
Specificity and quality of content will still matter most and grow further in importance. Special changes in algorithms might have a better way of detecting originality and freshness of content and ideas; however, there will be no way of completely stopping similar content. Search engines might also reward content that is able to communicate better with the reader at a much more direct level, compared to posts that simply sound smart. Google has already started acknowledging the writer, and this will continue to influence profiles and social media, which in turn have an impact on SEO.
Duration Visitors Spend on a Website
Google might start judging a website, by the amount of time visitors spend reading its contents. If visitors seem to leave rather quickly, then the website would be poorly judged by Google.
Responsiveness to Different Devices
The ability of the website to be viewed optimally on different devices, especially mobile devices, will take prominence. Google has already even made a page for you to test if your website is mobile-friendly. Depending on technological breakthroughs and types of devices available in future, search engines are most likely to consider responsiveness of the website across different devices.
Multiple Channels for Communicating
Websites that have multiple channels of communicating with the viewer will be preferred over websites that house only textual content. Hence, think multimedia, for all your future posts.
Transparency and Truthfulness
Viewers want to read truthful opinions and unbiased reviews. Transparency and truthfulness of the content might be hard for a search engine to judge, but Google has made a lot of progress in picking out good content that is not commercially motivated.
Aspects that Might Lose Importance in the Near Future in SEO
Page Rank Might Not Carry the Same Weight
It is wrong for a website with higher page rank to be treated better by a search engine. This would mean all startups can remain rookies for a long time, even if they are providing superior content. Presently, this happens a lot, and Google might rethink their policy about page rank and the weight it carries in judging a website.
Age of the Website and Inbound Links
This is on the same lines, as the previous point, where the age of the domain carries weight. For instance, a company that started in the “good old days” of SEO will have gained much better ranking based on reputation, which is now mainly measured by its age and incoming links. This means search engines at present punish all new websites just on the basis of their shorter length of existence. Secondly, there has been a misuse of backlinks for a long time, and search engines have yet to come up with an effective strategy that can uncover manipulations or shady dealings. Hence, inbound links also might not be given the importance that it is being given today.
Search engine updates, new trends, and changes in social media makes SEO a challenging task. SEO is constantly evolving and you can anticipate some major changes this year as well. Last year, Google tweaked its algorithm 13 times, and these were only the ones made public. Most experts feel changes take place almost every day, which are not brought to the public’s notice. Hence, in this fast changing scenario, what SEO strategies should you implement to stay on top?
Here are a few important points to consider, which are likely to have a big impact on your SEO this year:
Do Not Ignore other Search Engines
Every year, experts debate over the market share of various search engines. Google might be slowly losing its foothold, as other search engines such as Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, and Bing are making fast inroads. Google seems to be out of Firefox’s good books, as Yahoo is all set to be the default for this popular browser. The outlook for Google with Safari also does not seem promising, as Yahoo and Bing are competing hard to be the default search engine for this browser when the deal with Google ends sometime this year. Secondly, OS X, iOS 8 now provides easy options to switch to other browsers from Google. Therefore, strategizing to improve visibility across these three search engines would be a good idea in 2015.
Make the Most of Mobile Traffic
In 2014, mobile traffic finally overtook desktop traffic and this trend is going to continue with the popularity of new mobile devices. Google was the first search engine to recognize the impact of mobile devices, as it gave importance to websites that were more responsive and improved user experience. Now, the search engine even includes a notation in its search results, signifying the website to be mobile friendly. Bing was also quick to follow, as its results now seem to prefer single URLs that are responsive to different devices, rather than separate URLs. It is quite easy to see if your website has the required level of responsiveness, by taking the mobile-friendly test devised by Google.
Using Social Media
The influence of social media continues to grow, as Google and other major search engines prefer websites with social media presence compared to others. Social media is no longer simply a platform for sharing content but has become a channel for engaging with your audience and building relationships and reputation. You may consider this a marketing strategy, but your social media presence and level of engagement greatly influence your ranking. Therefore, have a focused social media strategy, over three platforms that improve engagement and traffic.
Changing Face of Keywords Strategy
Keyword rankings are still very important, but if these ranking are not making any difference to your ROI, you need to revamp your strategy fully. Secondly, broad keywords are no longer effective, as they work out expensive, and they could be missing your target audience. Long-tail keywords provide more focused approach; however, you still need to consider the length of the phrase, as many mobile users prefer to enter shorter queries.
Importance of Inbound Links
Since past many years, the importance of inbound links has never diminished in SEO. Whatever changes have taken place in search engine algorithms, the influence inbound links have on authority and reputation of a website remains the same. However, search engines, especially Google, is very much concerned about the quality of the inbound link rather than the number of links. You can no longer fool a search engine with link sharing, or other link building tactics, which used to work a few years before.
Some experts feel that social media signals are one of the major factors influencing SEO, whereas other experts believe that what you do on social media does not influence organic ranking. Whether Google factors in social signals or it is planning to do so in the future is not yet clear. According to experts, Google has attempted to include social media signals into its algorithm, but it was not able to quantify or organize the outcome in a meaningful way. Even if Google does not factor in social media, there are strong reasons to believe that SEO is still influenced by it and it can help websites in various ways to achieve a good ranking.
Here are certain factors that strongly indicate the influence of social media on SEO:
Personalized Search Results
Your activity on Google+ is used by Google to personalize your search results if you sign in. Activity on of other people in your circle will also influence your personalized search results. For instance, when you connect with another person on Google+, and if that person has posted, reviewed, or +1ed a webpage, on the same topic you are researching, then the person’s contribution will rank higher in your results because of your connection. Bing has also started on similar lines by including Facebook friends’ activity. However, personalized results will not influence rankings.
Businesses use social media to promote awareness of their brand or product, and these posts can lead to more linking. For instance, a company posts a video demonstrating a new feature of its product, and this video is shared 30 times on Facebook. Now, suppose a blogger picks this news, decides to review this feature, he might provide a link back to the company’s site. This link would not have happened if the content were not shared through social media. Hence, even though, posting of the video did not directly facilitate into the link profile, it was still able to contribute towards the overall link profile, which in turn influences SEO.
Authority through Authorship
Google has started including author identity into their ranking system, which means an author who has gained a bigger audience, higher authority, and is most relevant to the topic, will be ranked higher for particular queries. This is particularly in play for verified profiles, whereas posting by unverified profiles is being ranked lower. Social media, in turn, can help the author gain more audience, establish authority, and so on, which in turn will help the author gain better ranking.
Influence through Profile
The profile of a brand on social media could be ranked high, and this can show on the first page of search results. Secondly, the knowledge box that shows in the upper right corner will usually be the Google+ page of that brand. This may not send traffic to the company’s website; however, it does enable the company to have influence over SERP with a more robust branded coverage. Therefore, SEO strategies should include social channels, which promote placement in organic searches.
Consider Search Functionality of Social Networks
Most people consider only Google while planning their SEO strategies, since this search engine enjoys more than 67% of the market share. However, there are other search engines gaining popularity, and it would be prudent to study how Yahoo, Bing, and DuckDuckGo views social signals. Secondly, SEO is not meant only for search engines, as social media networks have their own search functions. For instance, 2.1 billion searches are done on Twitter every day, whereas YouTube is ranked second as a search engine after Google. Therefore, while developing strategies consider the different SEO factors that can influence rankings on various social media networks.
Net neutrality is the major buzzword in India following the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), which sets internet rules in the country, planning to do away with the concept. Major telecom companies are in favor of the government curbing every citizen’s right to online freedom and charge for using services such as Viber, Whatsapp, and Skype, to name a few.
The objective of these companies is to control these websites and apps and make more money:
Why is net neutrality it important?
To begin with, Tim Berners-Lee, the founder of the World Wide Web said it was strictly designed as a neutral, creative and collaborative space. Without net neutrality, Indians residents will be forced to pay more to access their desired apps and websites or choose from free ones and remain at the mercy of ISP providers. This is what no one desires to happen, which is why it is important to join the fight for net neutrality, which can be done by logging it at http://www.savetheinternet.in. Alternatively, you can send an email to the TRAI at TRAI@firstname.lastname@example.org and join over 3 lakh other people in the cause to continue to use Whatsapp, Viber, Google and other websites for free.
Most people will agree that net neutrality is essential. It doesn’t take rocket science to decipher that bigwigs like Google and Facebook would not have existed if the internet wasn’t neutral back in the 1990s. Ironically, it is these very companies, and many others, who are now collaborating with telecom operators to break the very fabric of the internet.
Airtel Zero – a violation of the net neutrality concept
An expert panel is reportedly looking into the matter claims the government, with a report expected in May. For the most part, people are fighting to do away with the devious mindset of many who are looking to profit from what is undoubtedly a violation of the concept of net neutrality the world over. Bharti Airtel seems to be on the other side of the public with the launch of its ‘Airtel Zero’, an open marketing platform where some apps are available free while charges are borne by the app makers. This could lead to monopolization by a few big wigs that will eventually succeed in defeating smaller companies. Joining Bharti Airtel’s moves are Reliance Communications and Uninor, who have jumped on the bandwagon to offer free usage to consumers in association with Whatsapp and Facebook, to name a few.
IT startups bear the brunt
Several IT startups have cried foul over the intentions of companies such as Airtel and RCom and for that matter even Facebook, who are launching schemes which restrict access to select platforms. Startups would end up having to pay the distributor to offer apps on their platform. The objective must be to allow equal access to information and services on the internet and not have a select few rules the roost. New eCommerce sites that can’t afford services like Airtel Zero would lose out on competition as consumers would naturally move towards sites like Amazon or Snapdeal and avoid data charges.
Flipkart finally does a flip
One of the companies to make a wise move is Flipkart who has stepped back following a major backlash after suggesting it would join Airtel’s Zero app platform. Flipkart recently announced its decision to pull out of its partnership with Bharti Airtel and said it remained committed to the larger cause of net neutrality in India. Users played a major role in their decision after they down rated Flipkart’s app on various app stores. Let’s hope the consumer wins this war on net neutrality which should have been a non-issue in the first place.