Happy New Year
2014 ended with a bang for many, a malware bang targeting WordPress websites. That kept us busy cleaning up clients websites over the holidays. Other than that there were changes to Google shopping, but nothing major in terms of SEO.
What will 2015 mean for SEO?
1) Last year Google did announce that they would favour websites in the organic listings if they had an SSL certificate. This means https instead of http at the start of urls.
The improvement in rankings was thought to be tiny. Most SEOs like SEO Organics told concerned clients not to worry about it yet, because in many circumstances no competitors have gone that route.
Towards the end of the year Google proposed to place a warning in the search results for sites without SSL/https. This is just a proposition but it would be harmful to any non https websites if it goes through.
Therefore in 2015 we now recommend clients switch to SSL. There is no immediate rush but it should be on your agenda. If you follow the rules i.e. correctly re-directing the http versions of the webpages to the new https versions, rankings should stay the same or improve a little.
Costs vary wildly. SSL certificates can be as low as $47 per year, or you can pay almost 10 times that amount. For most websites the cheaper option should suffice. However if you are taking credit card information on your website a more expensive solution is advisable.
2) The second thing worth mentioning, again, is the need for mobile friendly websites, ideally with a responsive design. This means the page elements will automatically re-arrange and re-align to fit any screen size in a fluid manner. Just make your browser smaller to see how it works on this page.
The other option, which may be necessary for older websites, is to make a new version of the site. The problem with this is what size should you make it, e.g. will 320px wide be enough? Probably not, but it is better than not having a mobile version.
People use phones of all sizes from 2.5 inch screens up to 10 inch screens on tablets. So making more than one size is probably for the best if it is cost effective.
Google now says “Mobile Friendly” in the search results next to websites where the user does not need to pinch the screen to read text. This will lead to more clicks for mobile friendly websites as it is a better user experience and that is what Google is all about.
This is primarily a user experience issue but it should also help rankings to be mobile friendly. Phones are often browsed when out and about which means slower internet connections. Making mobile sites fast loading is essential, if not searchers will just click the back button.
Mobile search usually leads to very small amounts of actual sales. However many people make the decision to buy on their phone and then save the url for later. Only apps seem to get big sales on mobiles.
3) Finally 2015 marks the end of spam links as we know them. Google has informed all webmasters either through penalties or news. This means we all must play it safe and stick to the Google Webmaster Guidelines. We have been doing this for years but it feels now like everyone has got the message, even the spammy emails from Indian companies offering SEO services are becoming less frequent.
If doing any SEO work yourself, check out the guidelines link. The basic rule we tell clients is that genuine promotion of your brand will be safe. This means lots of activity on social networks for many companies. For example creating social media with tools such as Canva which is a very cool tool and free if you have your own backgrounds. If your market isn’t suitable for any social networks, maybe there are forums to join.
If you require something more impressive such as a TV standard promotional video or advanced graphics using software like Adobe After Effects, then we are the people to speak to. Our videographer and co-founder took his debut short film around the world this year, winning many film festival awards. He and I both have a side venture which has got our (mostly his) videos their own channel on Emirates Airlines. If you fly Emirates this year be sure to watch Relax TV 😉
So that’s it. SEO in 2015 means keep promoting your business well through social media, press releases, comments on articles and discussion forums, and possibly the odd guest blog post, just make sure it is offering something valuable to searchers and you should be fine. Other than sticking to good ethical link building and promotion, get your website mobile friendly and at some point move over to https/SSL.