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7 Things You Need to Know About SEO to Remain Relevant in 2015

7 Things You Need to Know About SEO to Remain Relevant in 2015
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Keeping up with the ever-evolving SEO industry can seem like a pain, but it’s a requirement for anyone that wants to stay relevant in this digital age.

If you ignore these concepts, you risk finding yourself plagued with penalties and poor rankings. And when your business relies on search traffic, these negative effects can have catastrophic consequences.

Without a solid SEO strategy, you’re heading down a dangerous path. Successful online brands have understood the need for SEO and the impact it can have on the business for quite some time, but in 2015, this becomes even more important.

The following seven tasks will keep you up to date and help avoid the consequences associated with poor technical SEO.

1. Implement mobile traffic optimization.

You’ve heard about it for years: Brands need to develop a strong mobile strategy. Well, in 2015, that admonition becomes a warning.

Google’s recent update announcement makes it official -- a lack of mobile optimization will hinder your rankings.

Related: Don't Trust Your SEO Company Until You Can Verify Everything They Tell You

Smart brands will start by investing in a strong, mobile-responsive website. But in addition to this mobile optimization technique, you should also evaluate a few other areas.

  • Page load times: One study found that 69 percent of mobile responsive website designs were deemed “unacceptable” when put to a speed test. Page speed acts as a big SEO indicator, which is why professionals make page load optimization a priority.
  • Overlays and popups: Google wants to get the searcher to an answer as fast as possible. It doesn’t care that you’d rather have visitors sign up for your webinar or download your app. Most responsive sites already feature slow load times, so don’t add another entry barrier to accessing your information. It’ll hurt you in the long run.
  • Supported content: Avoid pages that contain unsupported mobile content, such as videos the user can’t play. If users have to wade past this content to find what they’re looking for, Google can’t provide a quick answer. That’s not good news for your rankings.

2. Learn about penalty/negative SEO monitoring and recovery.

Nothing can ruin your day faster than realizing you got hit by negative SEO or a Google penalty. These things tank your rankings. For many businesses, that affects the company’s bottom line.

You’ve got to acknowledge the problem as soon as possible, but that only happens through regular monitoring. If you don’t know how to do that, take time this year to learn it.

3. Move away from keyword rankings to return-on-investment measurements.

Do you wish you could prove that, for every $1 you invested trying to rank for “red shoes,” you made $10? Of course you do -- everybody wants to know that information!

It doesn’t matter if you’re reporting to a client or measuring the performance of your own website. This type of reporting outweighs the benefit of knowing that you rank ninth in the Google search results for “red shoes.” And that’s exactly why you must start doing it in 2015.

You need the capability to track users over a long period of time. By doing this, you’ll learn:

  • The initial search query visitors used to arrive at your site.
  • When a user completed a goal that leads to revenue.
  • How that user continued to behave to calculate his or her total lifetime value.

Sound like dark magic? You’re not far off. Multi-touch attribution is an advanced technique that you won’t find by turning on a couple features in Google Analytics.

You can either build this tracking system yourself or invest in a tool such as KISSMetrics to do it for you. Check out this handy infographic to see exactly how to accomplish this goal for your website.

4. Apply traditional PR to link building.

Traditional public relations focuses on building relationships. Link building, on the other hand, seeks to build SEO by securing links on high-quality, relevant websites. What happens when you combine these two things? A powerful hybrid that brings the best of both worlds.

White-hat link builders spend countless hours conducting blogger outreach, but the most prolific bloggers receive tons of guest post requests each week. That mucks up your ROI and leaves you fighting for the same guest posting spots other business owners are already going after.

You can improve your odds of being featured by working at building relationships, rather than just asking for favors from your preferred bloggers.

Related: 25 Signs You Need Help Marketing

5. Pursue broader, more precise buyer keywords.

People spent a lot of time raving about the power of long-tail keywords. While they can still help your overall SEO campaign, Google’s release of the Hummingbird algorithm update has shifted this trend quite a bit.

The update helps Google gain a contextual understanding of both broad content and long-tail keywords. In a Whiteboard by Moz, owner Rand Fishkin points out the main problem: “Google wants to understand that this page can satisfy both questions.” You miss broad keywords when your website focuses its energy on only mid-long or long-tail phrases.

This will cause a bigger problem as Google continues to evolve, so make it a point to keep both present on your site.

6. Pair technical SEO with content marketing campaigns.

Technical SEO is great. Your website needs it. Using it makes sure that you comply with SEO best standards and web practices. But it doesn’t necessarily win traffic.

Technical SEO doesn’t land you on the first page of Google. To win the SEO game, you need to do something different than your competitors. You need content marketing.

A recent Quick Sprout article gives some great ideas for pairing these two things. The highlights include:

  • Creating content that Wikipedia would love to link to.
  • Writing content based on keyword data.
  • Creating quality content instead of aiming for large quantities.
  • Including detailed FAQs on your website.
  • Targeting industry blogs for guest posting opportunities.
  • Focusing on indirect conversions.
  • Cross linking whenever possible.

When you do combine traditional content marketing techniques with SEO best practices, you can crush the competition in search while also developing amazing content that adds immense value to your readers.

7. Know the difference between expressed and implied links.

A 2012 patent filed by Google gives us a clear distinction between expressed and implied links. When you break down the formal patent speak, it comes down to this:

  • Expressed links actually provide a link to the resource mentioned.
  • Implied links only mention the resource, but don’t provide an actual link to click.

Google will continue to put weight on brand signals, and that makes these implied links very important to your strategy.

They show that you’re an authority in the industry -- and that’s something that Google definitely wants to know.

How will you use this knowledge in 2015?

SEO continues to evolve year after year. If your brand ignores these developments, you’ll find yourself at risk of being penalized and ranking poorly. There’s simply not that much room for error anymore.

Learn these key points and put together a strong plan to implement them into your strategy. Doing so will help you stay up to date and avoid the negative ramifications that come from falling behind the latest SEO changes.

Related: The Top 4 Reasons SEO Is Dead