The State of SEO in 2015

The world of SEO is constantly changing. To keep you up to date we like to compile all the important changes of the previous year into one solid article (we did so last year too). This way you can stay abreast of the latest techniques to help your website conquer search results. Let’s take a look at the state of SEO in 2015.

Mobile-friendly Pages are More Important Than Ever

I don’t have to tell you that mobile traffic is growing and growing. Just take a look at the number of mobile visitors on your own sites and compare that with data from one or two years ago. Most of you will see a remarkable increase.

Perhaps that’s why Google decided to add the ‘mobile-friendly’ label to their mobile search results, the goal being to avoid user frustration from non-optimized websites.

From Google Webmaster Central Blog

From the Google Webmaster Central Blog

The question is: what classifies as a mobile-friendly website? Well, Google uses the following criteria:

  • there is no software that is not common on mobile devices, such as Flash
  • all text is readable without zooming
  • content is automatically sized so users don’t have to scroll horizontally
  • links are placed far enough apart so they can easily be tapped

To help you analyze your website, Google launched a handy mobile-friendly test. Use it to find opportunities to optimize your site.

But There’s More

It might be possible that in 2015 these mobile friendly criteria become a ranking factor:

“We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.” –  and 

Just to be clear: at the moment it’s not a part of Google’s algorithm. But the chances of it becoming so are pretty high, especially since the number of mobile visitors to all websites keeps increasing.

Security

In August Google announced that they are going to use https-encryption as a ranking signal. After all, web security is important for everyone. This means that (if all other factors are equal) secure websites will rank higher than simple http-sites. This doesn’t mean that you should buy an SSL-certificate as soon as possible, but it might be something to consider in the future.

If you are planning on changing your old URLs to https, don’t forget to add 301-redirects. Otherwise, Google might see the new version as a new page and mess up its ranking. In addition, there are useful .htaccess codes that automatically transform URLs to the https version.

Further Reading

Options for 301 Redirects in WordPress on Tuts+

Bye Bye Authorship

Do you remember our article about authorship? Well, it has become completely redundant. After an experiment lasting three years, Google is no longer showing authorship information in the search results and Webmaster Tools.

According to John Mueller, they decided to remove it because it had neither a positive nor a negative effect. Removing authorship generally does not seem to reduce traffic to sites. Nor does it increase clicks on ads. Therefore authorship has become redundant.

Beware of Penalties

Good SEO can help your business immensely, but bad SEO can have the opposite effect. In the worst case, Google can penalize your site because of poor content and/or a suspicious link profile. Fixing these mistakes can often take weeks, sometimes even months.

This means that it’s not worth taking foolish risks for quick gains. Search engine optimization has become a long-term game that’s about useful content and relationship building.

Search in Search Results

You might have noticed that some search results get their own search bar. This allows users to reach specific content on that site. Take a look at this example from IMDB:

If you use the correct markup, this search box might (there’s no guarantee) show up for your website. First of all, you need a working search engine on your website (alternatively you could implement a Google Custom Search). The next step is the implementation of a schema.org/website entity with the potentialAction property of the schema.org/SearchAction markup. When that’s done, you need to wait for Google to identify your site as a candidate for the new search box.

Full instructions can be found on developers.google.com.

Conclusion

For the most part, it’s business as usual. Classic SEO factors, such as quality content, a powerful link profile and easy accessibility for users and search engines are still important in 2015. Nevertheless, some things have changed. In 2015 it will be even more important to provide mobile visitors with a user-friendly website. And if you’re designing a new website (or updating an existing one) it might not be a bad idea to switch to an https-connection. Finally, authorship has become redundant, so you don’t need to bother implementing it. Have fun optimizing in 2015!

New to SEO?

Check out our beginner’s series SEO Fundamentals for Web Designers: 19 tutorials to get you started.