4 SEO changes in 2014 that will have an impact in 2015

2014 held one constant for the world of SEO: Change! There were a lot of changes that occurred over the past year, and to keep up with all of them required a lot of time. What we want to do today is outline four changes that occurred this year that we believe will have an impact on your digital marketing in 2015.

Google removes Google Authorship from search results

Google Authorship was taken off the shelf this year after a three year test by Google. The idea was simple. The execution and results were not. The basic premise was to create an author-rank that would present the writer’s content in search based on an algorithm that ranked the author. A higher rank equaled a higher search engine result page position. With that position the author also received a snippet of their face in the search results. All of this was done through a connection on your website to your Google+ page.

What went wrong?

Google states it came down to two things: A low adoption rate and a low overall value to searchers. Yet there was also money involved for Google. Many believed that when the results pages featured a snippet as well as a series of Adwords ads on the page, the snippet was chosen more than the Adwords ad. This resulted in loss revenue for Google. This gave Google even more motivation to pull the plug.

What’s next?

Author rank has been a goal of Google since their 2011 patent submission. Their goal is to give the searcher the best results possible, and Google believes providing a way to grade writers is a way to do that. But it’s been a tough hill to climb. It is something to monitor as we head into 2015. I believe it’s still important to make a by-line in every post that you write or ghost-write. There is value in giving that information to Google even though we don’t know the end result. That’s why, even currently, we still provide an authorship link on every post we write.

Google algorithm updates

In review

In 2014 there have been plenty of updates to Google’s algorithms. Some of those include:

What went wrong?

Well, a lot … if you were a website that these updates focused on. Spamming sites took a huge hit, as did duplicate content or poor content sites. If you were infringing on copyright laws, Google took a harder stand this year. If you don’t know if you received a penalty you can check two places: your organic traffic trend line throughout the year and within your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. There you would find a notice from Google letting you know your site has been affected.

What’s next?

If you haven’t noticed the effort that Google puts towards updating their algorithm, it is expansive and ever changing. In 2015 it will be no different. The best way not to get caught in any new update is to make sure your content is written for the customer, and you’re not engaging in black hat SEO techniques that try to game the system.

SSL as a ranking factor

In review

In the middle of 2014 Google announced that it is going to give a SSL 2048-bit key certificate a small ranking boost in search results. The SSL 2048-bit key certificate, or HTTPS, is a more secure way to keep information on your website safe. You know you’re on a HTTPS site when you see the small, green lock icon in the URL address bar.

What went wrong?

What really went wrong was large ecommerce sites like Target and Home Depot were starting to get hacked and were losing customer information. While there may not be a direct correlation between the website security and in-store security, what it comes down to is the visitor to the site feeling comfortable with giving out their information. Hence a ranking factor that accounts for that type of user experience.

What’s next?

Well, most experts say proceed with caution. If you’re planning to do a website upgrade or are a small e-commerce business, you’ll want to make sure you take advantage of this new information. If you’ve just revamped your site and don’t have the manpower to encrypt your website again, most people agree that you can slow play this and wait for an opportune time to do so. With the increase in ranking only affecting 1% of searches, your chance of gaining anything for search is small. Search Engine Land offers these tips when considering the switch to HTTPS:

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificat
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.
  • Twitter opens up for organic search

What went wrong?

Twitter has begun focusing on search mainly due to the decrease in traffic it had seen over the previous year. They needed to bring in new users and entice current users to come back more often.

What’s next?

YOU START TO USE HASH TAGS IN EVERY TWEET! Sorry, I don’t mean to yell but there is now more value to using hash tags in your social posts on Twitter. It gives companies a chance to show up in those searches once the person is back on Twitter. Don’t be surprised if Google doesn’t start to move these searches up in rankings, or even think about giving them a part of the knowledge graph that presides on the right side of the search pages.

Wrap-Up

The four topics we covered today are just some of the 2014 changes that will affect your 2015 digital marketing. If there is anything you should take from this post is that you should always be willing to educate yourself on the changes going on in search. It can mean the difference between a successful business and a floundering one.

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