Something that many people want to know at the end of each year is what is the state of play within your vertical. I created six questions that I would question myself and then (as you do) asked these questions to 13 of the smartest minds in organic search/SEO, ranging from independent consultants, to heads and directors of departments to agency heads.
A massive thanks to: Dan Sharp, Patrick Hathaway, Simon Penson, Kevin Gibbons, Barry Adams, Matt Beswick, Paddy Moogan, Carl Hendy Stacey Cavanagh MacNaught, Justin Butcher, Paul Rogers, Michael Briggs, Stephen Kenwright for being involved and answering the questions so honestly and providing real insights to the readers.
My predictions for 2015
Q. With the number of high profile changes and algorithm updates in 2014, what do you think the most important thing will be to achieve success in 2015?
Holistic marketing, it is something a number of people have suggested over the last few years however it is even more important in 2015.
Links definitely still have their place, high value / high authority links will always be a key component in marketing but gaining them and gaining the desired links will be even more difficult in 2015.
Quality digestable (more than just sharable) content is going to be essential across all verticals and sites, companies have to raise their content status quo, there is no real excuse for boilerplate or low quality content into 2015.
Q. Where or what do you think the biggest challenge will be in 2015?
I would typically say gaining links but the biggest challenge for most businesses will be the ability to ensure their sites are working technically well and serve the best experience for users across all devices and cross browsers.
Over the last two years we have been challenged monthly by Google, the biggest challenge is keeping ahead of the curve and really delivery a great experience that pleases Google, keeps your bosses and clients happy by hitting aggressive targets and ensuring it helps long term success.
Q. Thinking about how you think your industry or clients industries are going, what’s the best piece of advice that you give all clients or perspective clients in coming weeks/months?
Always be (optimising) marketing, always be auditing, test wisely and never stop improving user experience. Being static definitely is not enough, the need for instant information, answers and answering different questions from a single visit/session is essential and you can only do this by improving, analysing and testing.
Q. What do you predict will be the biggest change / or hardest hitting change will in 2015?
I think there will be a huge change in 2015. The influence of “Google Now” really is evident and answering questions and commonly asked queries within SERP’s is an indication of what is next. I predict the SERP’s to get a material facelift which will upset marketers and tools providers alike.
On an international scale Yandex introduced a completely new way of analysing sites I expect these types of activities to roll out across the other major international search engines.
Google has been aggressively pushing their app over the last six months and that’s a personalisation play and a play to move away from SERP’s as we know it, this trend is likely to continue. Alongside the app I see voice search becoming an important factor for many, especially as the way we search via voice is fundamentally different to how we search through text.
In 2015 the search versus discovery fight will be really interesting to watch.
Q. What’s your biggest prediction for organic marketing in 2015 and why is it important?
Cross device happiness; making users happy across all devices is going to be essential. Cross device tracking is in its infancy and Google has a long way to catch up with Facebook. I can only see personalisation being taken to the next level and answers will become more personalised as Google want to be your personalised assistant/advisor.
Q. Lastly, if you were Google what would you do to improve quality and search results?
I personally would address the increasing trend of locking content behind a question for users, it is a short sighted tactic from publishers however it is really annoying and typically seeing large sites rank with a really bad user experience.
I would look to reward sites that offers great experiences across all devices and apps, I think Google has the right data via tracking codes, Android and data collection via its apps (across other operating systems) to make a seamless personalised experience and reward sites them for this.