Getting your website and content to rank in the search engines has always required a keen understanding of SEO guidelines and best practices. Itâ€™s also required a whole lot of work in order to properly carry out these best practices.
2015 is no different. The SEO landscape has changed over the past year, and staying on top of the changes and knowing exactly what they mean â€“ practically speaking â€“ is the key to higher rankings.
Following are 5 of the biggest challenges youâ€™ll face this year as you attempt to get your content ranking in the search engines.
1. Recalibrating your keyword strategy: Semantic search has overtaken keyword search
In the past, keyword research was the foundation of any SEO strategy. It would look something like this: Using various keyword tools, you would find high-volume, low-competition keywords, and then include these keywords on your site in a variety of ways. And while on-page SEO remains an important way of letting Google know what your content is about, this strategy alone isnâ€™t likely to get you very far.
Since the release of Googleâ€™s Hummingbird update of 2013, semantic search has overtaken keyword-based search. Googleâ€™s algorithms have become increasingly sophisticated, evaluating queries based more on user-intent and less on the specific keywords that are used.
Despite Googleâ€™s emphasis on semantic or conversational search, many (many!) business owners remain stuck in the pre-Hummingbird mentality and practices (â€œPlug your keywords into the Yoast SEO plugin and youâ€™re good to go!â€). This year, a challenge for business owners will be to learn new ways of optimizing their content for semantic search:
- Focusing on answering questions; particularly questions mobile-users may be asking.
- Offering helpful supplementary information along with your base content: info like reviews, maps, travel info, etc.
- Creating content that aims to provide all relevant info on a particular topic or theme. In this way youâ€™ll be including a wide variety of thematic keywords rather than potentially over-optimizing for a few specific terms.
For a detailed overview of current keyword strategies see my post Is Keyword Research Relevant for 2015?
2. Optimizing properly for local SEO