December 11, 2014 | Sarah Danks

Web Marketing Will be Very Different in 2015:
What Does That Mean for You?

Lots of search marketing experts are opining what changes are coming our way in the new year. In fact, it was the #SEMRushChat topic during yesterday’s fast-and-furious conversation. Technically, it’s anyone’s guess what’ll happen and when, but here are the top five changes we at ThinkSEM see coming our way in the next dozen months:

1) Websites Must be Mobile-friendly

And this doesn’t mean your site merely renders on all devices; it means each layout is optimal for that device, from what content is shown, how the design elements change to fit the space, what shows first, how conversions work, etc.

As I noted back in April, it’s not that your site is responsive, it’s how your layout functions across devices that matters. Mobile SEO will not just be about SEO, it’ll be about UX.

Plus, with the way people search on mobile devices, websites will have to take into account things such as voice search/Siri, location-specificity and more. Let’s be honest, you should’ve already been thinking about mobile-friendly web design before now, but if you’re late to the party, now’s the time to get with the program.

2) Social Media is Becoming More (& More) Important

In today’s increasingly social online environment, it’s not about marketing at people or talking to people…

…it’s about building relationships. Branding is being molded into an entirely new animal — wherein companies and brands become personable and start dialogues with The People. Social media venues such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs and even Google+ are the way to get the message across.

It’s not about the quantity of Tweets/updates/posts; it’s about the quality. It should’ve always been, but I have a feeling starting in 2015 this will be an important factor.

Let’s not forget that Google — and other search engines, of course — are showing more interest in what’s going on with brands socially. I have a feeling 2015 will be the year search algorithms start relying heavily on social media signals.

3) Content Marketing is the New Black

Is content marketing new? No, but the meaning of this type of marketing — along with how it’s done — is evolving. The need to create quality content is a given, but it’s the amplification of content that’s changing, and it’s more necessary than ever.

Brands are becoming aware that you don’t have to pay to have content become visible; the very people you’re trying to reach can distribute it for you…

…for free!

Well, of course, it takes time to not only write good content, but also to cultivate good relationships, and time is money — but it’s a small price to pay for the sheer simplicity and reach of marketing this way. Companies that don’t have SOME type of content marketing plan in place starting on January 1 will find themselves at the back of the peloton at the very least, or at the worst, out of the race entirely.

4) SEO as We Know it is Dead

Okay, so SEO’s not dead — as many are wont to say — but it continues to change. Now more than ever, the lines are blurred between search optimization, UX, content marketing, design, and even social media.

That’s right. What with social media mentions, likes/follows/retweets becoming important in search engines’ algorithms, what we think of right now as “branding” will become equal parts SEO and content marketing.

As I mentioned before, social media is becoming more important — and I think the search engines agree. SEO is no longer just about keyword research, killer <title> tags and rich content (although those will always be important), it’s about re-thinking link building as we know it.

And, speaking of…

5) Incoming Links Could Hurt Your Website

The next year will see a shift in link building practices. According to Rand, non-editorial links will be “more dangerous than ever.” It’s not about buying — or even asking — for links anymore.

Before 2012 it was a common practice to purchase links to “build credibility” for a website. Of course, some a lot of companies went overboard with this, which is why link farming is now a major no-no, thanks to the Penguin update. In the “new age” we’re entering, SEO will be about the acquisition of links in an entirely natural form.

Again, because social is so huge, Rand insists that we need to “build relationships; not links.” And, I’ll go a step farther and say: if you build it, links will come. Since we all know Google will continue to hone its algorithms to penalize spammy tactics (i.e., bad/scraped content, link farming), it’s best to go with the new flow and focus on a more holistic approach to link acquisition.

Marketing Is Always Changing…

…are you keeping up?

So there you have it — the five big changes coming our way in the new year. Are you prepared to face them head on?

As marketers — whether we focus on paid search, SEO, content, design — we all know online marketing is constantly evolving. We need to adapt to move with the changes, or be left behind on the dusty dirt road.




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