As we take our SEO practice into 2015, success hinges on how well we adapt to the evolving intelligence of Google search. This adaptation extends far beyond the traditional ways of SEO; that is, writing keyword optimized pages and building links to those pages.
The fact of the matter is, Google has gotten much smarter of the years. And while some SEO best practices have become obsolete, a few techniques and strategies stand the test of time. Below I share a few of those timeless SEO best practices and how you can set the stage for a thriving SEO campaign in 2015.
1. Schema Markup
Let’s first start with your website, and let’s assume you have already implemented the basic on-page SEO practices of keyword optimized Meta data, page copy, internal linking, etc. Take the SEO value of your site one step further by implementing Schema markup.
In short, Schema is a special form of markup (HTML tags that use structured data) that helps define precisely what your site’s content is all about. For instance, when Google crawls an aggregate review (5-star average rating) on product page, you can markup these elements using AggregateRating Schema to tell Google exactly what that content is: an aggregate rating of average 1-5 star reviews for that product.
Not only does using Schema markup improve the SEO value of your optimized pages (as you can markup keywords, videos, addresses/citations, etc.) but it can enhance how your pages are displayed in the search engine results.
2. Optimized Web Properties
No matter how much you optimize your website, it will only account for about 30% of what fuels its rankings in Google. The remaining 70% is the activity that occurs on other sites and web properties (i.e. blogs, social media profiles, directory listings, etc.)
For that reason, most of your SEO efforts should focus on optimizing other web properties for greater SEO value. Begin with some of the most authoritative web properties (as viewed by Google) and look for ways to improve your business’ LinkedIn page and Google+ page to start.
- Can you modify the URL of your LinkedIn page to be more SEO-friendly?
- Are your web properties populated to their fullest potential (and with a touch of keyword inclusion and perhaps some optimized images/videos?)
- Are these properties verified and are you linking to your website properly?
If you operate a local professional practice or small business that’s investing in local SEO strategies, look at ways you can improve your Yelp page. Or perhaps touch-up your Yellowpages listing. Not only can optimizing these web properties bring greater SEO value to your website, but these properties can also rank highly in Google for target keywords.
Lastly, seek creative ways to generate more positive reviews, particularly on Google+ and Yelp. A high volume of positive review is a good indicator to Google that your business is legit and thus deserving of higher search engine placement.
3. Backlink Naturalization
There’s no doubt that backlinks (inbound links pointing to your site from external sources) will remain strong as a significant factor in determining search engine rankings in 2015. However, the distribution and quality of your site’s backlinks will be pivotal in how effective they are in having a momentous positive impact.
Long-gone are the days when you can rank overnight by building 100 backlinks from random web properties using keyword optimized anchor text. Google has caught on to such shenanigans, and now penalizes website that display obvious signs of unnatural and over-optimized backlink profiles.
In 2015, best practices of link building will center on generating links from top-quality sources that are topically-relevant to your website and business model. In other words, backlink naturalization will be vital. Not only must the sources of your site’s backlinks be relevant, but the anchor text that’s used must be a natural blend of “click here” or simply your domain name.
Sure, keyword optimized anchor text is okay some of the time, but try avoid using the same optimized anchor text twice (or worse, three or four times,) as this will raise a red flag. For example, if your primary keyword target is chiropractor Traverse City, use long-tail anchor text like find top-rated chiropractors in Traverse City or branded anchor text like Back-Cracker Chiropractic of Traverse City, MI.
A blend of anchor text will ensure optimal backlink naturalization, and thus minimize any risk of over-optimization penalties while enabling your site to rank hard.