There has been a lot of talk recently on where Google can go next and generally on the future ofÂ SEO. Rolling out updates continuous is better for SEO in my opinion and will prevent any sudden dips of the disasters of Penguin. The death of pagerank (its been dead for ages), and spam slowly melting away all leads to new ideas floating around the heads of many SEOs, with the primary question being:Â
As we are just about to enter 2015, I thought I would do my own personal take on the future of SEO. I know SEland have done their round upsÂ and its tough to compete with those big dogs, but looking back at this article upon completion, I thinkÂ itâs the best on this blog (but that might not be saying much!)
Goodbye Pagerank (again).
We as SEOs have known for a while that tool bar PageRank means nothing. It hasnât been updated in forever and Google has recently said it wonât be updating ever again (from our point of view anyway.)
Dan from seoblog and Bill from seo by the sea have both done articles explaining that PageRank is dead and more importantly what they think will be the next big thingÂ Google looks at. So without further ado:
The Future of SEO
According to some guy….Me.
As SEOs if we can even slightly predict what Google is going to do next, we are ahead of 99% of other SEOs and SEO agencies. Â This gives us a huge advantageÂ over our competition. Which (lets not sugar coat it), can make us money by being more effective at what we do!
John Limbocker did a video on Mattâs blog talking about what he thinks will be the next big thing when it comes to SEO and also made an AMAZING point about Googleâs past algorithm changes and how they adapted and evolved.
He talks about how all Google algorithms changes have followed roughly the same sort of style.
A factor/idea—> Quantity of that factor —> Quality of that factor —> Next factor/idea.
Think about it….
Initially it was keywords.Â The factor was “keywords on a website means its about that keyword”. The idea “to reward websites with higher rankings in Google if they contain that keyword a lot”.
What peopleÂ did: “keyword stuffing”.
What Google did: changed the factor to relevance (aka quality) not the sheer number of times a keyword appears on a page (aka quantity.)
What people did: We optimised title tags, headers, URLs and a few times throughout the article.
What did Google do next? They moved onto VALUING BACKLINKS. (Another factor/idea)
I’ve made a funky flow chart for you guys.
Flow chart created using:Â https://www.gliffy.com
Exactly the same thing happened with backlinks. The idea: âlinks as a vote of relevance and authorityâ â What SEOs did âget 1000s of low quality backlinksâ — What Google did â âGave more weight to quality authoritative backlinksâ — As we learn how to get quality backlinks Google will/has evolve(d) to metrics that we cannot easily manipulate.
Well these according to Search metrics and pretty much every SEO are:Â user experience metrics.
Below is a chart that displays the ranking factors for 2014:Â Image from search metrics.
The most important thing to take out of this is, Google is trying to move away from links/on page as much as possible. Don’t get me wrong they haven’t yet! But they are slowly getting away from it.
The purple bars display user signals and the orange ones are social signals.
Call me crazy but I call those the same thing!?!
Those are the signals for 2014 and most of them will not change throughout the entire 2015. Google would never rebuild their algorithm and why would they as well? It works so well!
User experience / Social signals / User signals whatever you want to call them, areÂ currently the most relevant ranking factor to Google.
Sidenote: Just because something is the most relevant, does not mean it is the only or even most effective. We all know that without links and on page you can’t do anything. So lets not pretend you can rank first for” car insurance” if your article says car a few times, has 1 million social signals and gets 10,000 UV a day…. It still wouldn’t rank!
Important: Do I believe Social signals themselves increase search engine rankings? NO! Google has said they don’t and Eric just finished an article on Forbes saying their a myth! But what they do do is increase visitors to your site, who then take on the user experience ranking factorÂ and everything starts to snowball from there, and do snowballs increase SEO? Indeed they do!
Currently topping user signals and topping the entire rankings factors list is: CTR. But in my opinion if your site is optimised correctly, you have looked into conversion rate optimisation and you have catchy headlines and descriptions, this will take care of itself! (Its common sense for even the most basic SEO)
So what next?
Well following the normal process of Google rankings we should see 2 things happening, quantity being a ranking factor and then quality being the defining ranking factor of user experience.
But how can you rank user experience based on quality?
Well, this is where we go intoÂ the deep casums of SEO brains, filled with images of Matt Cutts, the Google logo and RandÂ with his funky facial hair. My creative wondering brain thinks the following, and I think most SEOs should/will/hopefully concur.
Its easier to explain my thoughts using an example, so let’s just use this article as the example.
If you didn’t like this article, your unlikely to have read this far and as a result you have probably already left this page. What does this tell Google? My article didn’t solve your problem :(, this equals high bounce rates and unhappy visitors. There not going to rank me highly if that’s happening!
Thatâs point 1 – High bounce rates (CTR included here too)
If you thought this article was okay, but not really that good. You probably read it all and then left to go back to Google. AKA you are still searching, you are not fully satisfied (sorry). This sends a signal to Google saying; well Tomâs article was okay, but not really that good,
Thatâs point 2 – Time on site and if the user continues searching for “the answer”.
If you loved this articleÂ you might leave a comment!Â That’s user interaction folks.
That’s point 3 – User interaction AKA user experience.Â
If you super-loved it (thatâs a thing) what do you do? Well you share it! And HERE IS THE KICKER: If you are an authority in your specific niche/industry, your shares are worth 100x what the average Joeâs are worth. Now currently Google might not be able to determine that directory but they most certainly can determine this indirectly as follows:
You tweet: “Just read an awesome article on SEO 2015 by Tom Buckland”. (Do that by the way and tag me: @theseoasis, like do this right now….I’ll wait.).
S0 that 1Â tweet isÂ a +1 to Google for user experience and social interaction.
ButÂ social signals aren’t actually ranking factors….
If you have 100,000 followers who are all SEOs too, likely some of them will click onto my page and read the article too. Lets say 0.2% = 200 extra visitors. That’s another +200 to Google for user experience, maybe more share and some comment. But its more than that, its telling Google that my article was good enough that Mr SEO authority thought it would be good to share/link.
Yes that’s basic SEO…. We have all been doing that for years….
But its not. My prediction is that in less than 1 year from now Google will establish without using social signals directly (because they can’t cease any control), how popular a specific piece of content is. Not from signals themselves BUT FROM THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO COME VIA IndvidualÂ SIGNALS.
This is how you get an AUTHORITYÂ user experience/signal and these will be 1000 times more effective than Joe Snow-bodies tweet.
And in my opinion this is the only way to knock MrÂ backlink off his throne or to see links ever losing some of their value.
This is also where Google is going with nofollow links. I’m sick of people saying they have no value. Nofollow links have TONS of value.Â
- They make a link profile look natural
- Individuals coming from no follow links usually come to read your site
- This leads to better user experience
- This leads to increased rankings from better user experience…..
Rant over…. Wow that was passionate. Whoever said SEO is boring…..
Important to remember
Google in itself is a business and I think as SEOs sometimes we forget that. We look at them as a marketing tool, but at their roots their a business just like any other, and what is a businesses main aim? IncreaseÂ revenue. In Googleâs case they do that by providing the most accurate results in the SERPs. And how can they do that?
âFind out what other people found useful, and display the same information to individuals searching for something similar.â –Â Tom Buckland 2014.
With that said, here is my complete (very simple) ranking strategy for 2015, summed up in about 200 wordsâ¦
Quick sidenote on HTTPS: I personally believe this is going to be huge in roughly 4 months time (quote me on it if you like), and as you know Cyrus did an awesome article on moz about this topic. Go and read that if you havenât already as itâs pretty in depth!
Super quote below by Mike on SEland
âGreat SEO is really no different than it was a few years ago. Terrible SEO is whatâs changed drastically.â
Excuse my language but: A-Fucking-menÂ to him!
MyÂ ranking strategyÂ for 2015!
- Still links â quality over quantity and relevance over anything.
- Still on page â Keywords where they should be.
- On site user experience â CTR as high as possible! Time on site high, bounce rates low, staying on site to read other posts high!
- Quantity of âsocialâ signals â When I say social signals I do not mean only facebook likes and tweets etc, I’m talking about exposure in the social networks, bookmarks that get likes themselves and tweets that get retweeted themselvesâ¦.And the visitors that come from these retweets…
- Quality of âsocialâ signals â Giving increased value, similar to what happened with links, to individuals with more authority to your industry or niche. If youâre a news site and âCNNâ tweets your story, how can this hold the same value as if âplain old meâ tweets it? The truth: It wonât and it doesn’t
That’s pretty much it. I hope you enjoyed that rant in the form of an article. I’m pretty proud of this one and I think its a kind of unique take on the future of SEO.
Shares, likes, tweets are SOOOOÂ appreciated and if youâre an authority in SEO itâs doubly appreciated ;).
Would love some comments too.
Thanks for reading.