Nearly every professional that either works around or within SEO knows there is only one constant - that Google’s algorithm is always changing. Earlier this year, Google released the ‘Penguin refresh’ which is slightly different to their usual updates. This was designed to help sites who had cleaned up their SEO act and also to demote sites with newly found spam.
Although the Penguin update may have had a big impact, there were also other changes this year that could have affected your website’s performance, including the loss of Google Authorship on articles and blogs. But what should we be looking out for in 2015?
A Look to the Future
Google has had a seemingly long-term battle against ‘spammy’ SEO practices and campaigns, and has really clamped down on online tools to monitor keyword performance. This includes removing keyword information on their own Google Analytics and AdWords platforms. I think 2015 will really start to show the fallout from this, with marketers having to keep creating organic, user-focused content - rather than writing for machines.
Google will probably continue to get rid of tools and cut back on analytics and keyword data. The less information that is available to webmasters and SEO professionals, the less the system can be abused by black/grey hat tactics. This would enable Google to spend less time sorting out all of the ‘spammy’ tactics and focus on increasing revenue for themselves.
Heavier Push for Secure Connections
Earlier this year Google also announced that they would now be taking secure connections into account when ranking. Although Google are passionate about security on the web, this change is still deemed as a lightweight ranking factor - with only 1% of all website queries being affected. That being said, I feel there will be a bigger push by Google in 2015 for websites to start using SSL more across the whole site, rather than just the payment processes.
Authorship Turned Social
Following on from the loss of Google Authorship (which I personally thought was a great idea), I think Google will start to really include social media platforms in their authority signals. I don’t just mean Google + either. Earlier this year, Google’s Matt Cutts stated:
"...there was an SEO that said, ‘OK, we see a lot of links on Facebook and those are the pages that rank well.’ But that’s correlation; that’s not causation. Instead, it’s probably that there’s something really awesome, and because there’s something awesome, then it gets a lot of likes on Facebook and a lot of people decide to link to it. That’s the sort of thing where the better content you make, the more people are [going] to like it not only in Google, but in Twitter and Facebook as well."
Although what Matt has said shows that previously Google wasn’t using social signals to rank content, I think with the failure of adoption that Google Authorship had, Google have no choice but to involve social medias more heavily. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some sort of social authorship, involving profiles and authorship with those instead.
With all the changes that Google have made over 2014, with reduced keyword & analytical tools, conversational keyword focus, the push for SSL, regional search advancements and the loss of Google Authorship, I think 2015 will be a very interesting year for SEO.
In terms of making any drastic changes to keep up with Search trends I always feel the same way. As long as you keep on top of any changes, and make sure you are creating awesome, relevant content for your audience you won’t be in any worry for next year.