SEO and SEM Predictions and Tips for 2015

The coming year promises to be an eventful, and potentially challenging, one for search marketers. These SEO and SEM experts share predictions on the big search trends and offer tips on how to prepare for and take advantage of them.

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SEO and SEM Tips for 2015

Ensure Your Website Design is Responsive, Mobile-Friendly

"If your budget is tight, I recommend at least having a few responsive landing pages designed specifically for your pay-per-click (PPC) traffic," says Anthony Myers, founder, Preeminent Productions. "If you're not actively running any PPC campaigns, find out what your best converting pages are. These are the pages that organic traffic is landing on and converting visitors to leads or customers. Have your three to five best pages redesigned to be responsive. And make sure to offer a great user experience for small screens. Even if you're not displaying the full content [of your desktop site], get visitors intrigued enough with your mobile site to leave their email addresses. Use a call to action like: 'We know you're on the go, so let us email you the full version to read at home later.'"

Test Your Website's Mobile-Responsiveness

You can use Google's Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to "diagnose any areas where your Web pages aren't meeting best practices for mobile," says WikiJob's Rice. "Aim to have all your pages labeled with the 'mobile-friendly' snippet, to differentiate your pages from competitors and gain an advantage in click-through rate from search. Also, be mindful of the rise of voice search, and how people will phrase queries differently on mobile and expect concise, location-based answers to their questions."

Test Your Website's Speed 

Search-result rankings factor in Website load speeds, according to many digital marketing experts. After using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test Tool, HighQ's Khan recommends testing your site's mobile and desktop speeds with Google's PageSpeed Insights tool. Most of the time, the issues it discovers are easy for developers to fix, and those tweaks "can have a positive impact on mobile website and SEO performance," Khan says.

Tailor Your Online Ads to Mobile Devices

Ads designed for mobile have "less text and a richer image," according to Leo Polanowski, head of client services, Yahoo. "Put your main points and calls to action in headlines or at the front of descriptions. Use images that will emotionally resonate with consumers. Provide searchers with the easy answers they're looking for. An effective way to do this is with enhanced site link extensions. This format lets you add two lines of descriptive text in bigger, bolder type to your site links. We've seen enhanced site links boost click-through rates by 22 percent compared to traditional site links."

Take Your Time and Build Great Content

"Instead of rushing a bunch of articles out, seriously slow down and spend another hour or two on each of them," says Myers. "Do more research. Have you looked at other related niche articles out there? What's missing in those articles? Is there a gap you can fill? Give your users the best, unique content they've ever seen on your topic. Make sure it's so good and different that they can't help to share it with others. Then, get in your users' heads and think about what they might need next [after reading your article]."

Spread Your Stories Across Platforms

In 2015, storytelling across various media platforms, including social networks, blogs and video, will be more important. "It's essential to create a diversified marketing strategy and a variety of media for consumers to interact with your brand," according to Kathryn Bisson, marketing master, Technology Seed. "The brand's mission and story needs to begin on a strong website and then share that story on other media, including Google AdWords and Bing Ads, to direct people to a story about your services. Use social media to display the corporate culture, or YouTube and Vine to tell your story via video. Every piece will work together to encompass all aspects of an organization and all people to relate to the brand as a personality."

Know Your Target Audience 

"Persona definition is a mandatory prerequisite to optimizing for search," says Ashley Paris, research analyst, demand creation strategies, SiriusDecisions. "As part of that exercise, pay attention to the lexicon of your buyer. What are the words they use to describe their initiatives, challenges and questions? How do those words and phrases vary by industry, geography and stage in the buying process? When those questions are answered, you can originate content and a digital footprint that's truly relevant to the type of searches your buyers are performing."

Ensure Your Website is Secure

"Google will reward sites [in its rankings] that are secure and punish those that are less secure," says Mike Ryan, director of marketing, Keeper Security. "As more sites get hacked, Google will take further action in protecting their users from cyber attacks. Google has said that security is a top priority. It even announced in August that going HTTPS [adding an SSL, 2048-bit key certificate on your site] will give you a minor rankings boost."

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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