SEO Trends 2015: 45 Experts On The Future Of Search

How can brands gain more search vis­i­bil­ity and grow rev­enue, traf­fic in 2015?

Danny Goodwin By Danny Goodwin from Momentology. Join the discussion » 5 comments

What key trends will shape 2015 search engine opti­miza­tion (SEO) strate­gies? Is it all about mobile? Smarter con­tent? Per­son­al­iza­tion? Deliv­er­ing amaz­ing user expe­ri­ences? How can you best reach, grow, and engage your audi­ence? How can you make sure your brand is found at those moments when peo­ple are search­ing for a pro­duct you sell or a topic you know lots about? To find out, Momen­tol­ogy reached out to 45 expe­ri­enced SEO experts. Here are their insights into SEO trends and their pre­dic­tions for 2015.

Here is the full list of SEO experts who con­tributed to this post:

Note: You can see an overview of the trends in our SlideShare pre­sen­ta­tion at the bot­tom of the post.

Jonathan Allen, President at L&T Co.

Jonathan AllenI can’t help think­ing back to some­thing the Wall Street Journal’s Jack Mar­shall once said to me: It’s “bet­ter to own an audi­ence than rent one.”

Google showed who is really in con­trol of mar­ket­ing data with “key­word not pro­vided” and Face­book has fol­lowed suit by imple­ment­ing social algo­rithms that dimin­ish brand page expo­sure. In short, both com­pa­nies have made it harder to com­pete for organic vis­i­tors than ever before. That means brands have to step up their efforts and adopt the aggres­sive mind­set nec­es­sary to com­pete for traf­fic every sin­gle day.

To suc­ceed in SEO in 2015, com­pa­nies and brands need to start build­ing dig­i­tal assets that they — and only they — truly own. Sta­tic sites can no longer reli­ably grow your audi­ence, yet brands can take the many suc­cess­ful strate­gies that search engi­nes and social media have taught them and exe­cute them on their own dynamic por­tals.

While search engine and social giants used to provide a clear chan­nel between com­pa­nies and con­sumers, they are now essen­tially demand­ing that we cre­ate very speci­fic con­tent, or worse, join the near break-even PPC mar­ket­place, in order to retain their favor. This cre­ates the false notion that the only solu­tion is for com­pa­nies to become ideal pro­duc­ers on the plat­forms they want to suc­ceed on. More specif­i­cally, some have dis­sem­i­nated the belief that on social media our brands need to “be more human” and on search engi­nes our brands need to “be more open.”

That advice might be rel­e­vant in prin­ci­ple, but it comes at a hefty cost of adapt­ing your busi­ness oper­a­tions. Fur­ther­more, this strat­egy may end up only con­sol­i­dat­ing a weaker mar­ket posi­tion if you can’t pivot effec­tively.

Finally, fol­low­ing that path will only hold you back from devel­op­ing your own unique voice to com­mu­ni­cate with your audi­ence. And should you fall behind as a result, your prob­lems will only be com­pounded by the oppor­tu­nity cost of miss­ing out on build­ing an audi­ence that you really own.

Brands need to cul­ti­vate and rep­re­sent a per­sis­tent, con­sis­tent, and intel­lec­tu­ally expan­sive pres­ence online now, rather than sim­ply find­ing new ways to shout through a bro­ken mega­phone. If you’ve not built a brand voice for your busi­ness yet, now’s the time to do it. And there’s no bet­ter place to start than on your own web prop­er­ties.

PR and tra­di­tional pub­lish­ers have roles to play in this cli­mate, as they can really amplify a company’s voice — regard­less of indus­try or topic. Their chal­lenge — to com­pete for organic audi­ences on search engi­nes and social media — essen­tially par­al­lel those a brand faces on a day-to-day basis. As inde­pen­dent, ad-sup­ported web pub­lish­ing prod­ucts can’t sup­port the cir­cu­la­tion-based busi­ness mod­els of yes­ter­year, brands have a real oppor­tu­nity to rethink those old-school con­tent prod­ucts with­out the pres­sure of gen­er­at­ing ad rev­enue.

Loren Baker, Co-Founder, VP at Foundation Digital

Loren BakerMy pre­dic­tion for search and dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing for 2015 is on the mobile and local­iza­tion side of things, which will be an expan­sion of trends we’ve been fol­low­ing and con­sult­ing our clients on for the past 2 years. We have some clients who’s mobile device traf­fic has increased by 400 per­cent in 2014 alone, in some cases becom­ing the major­ity of their traf­fic and refer­rals.

The two largest changes we’re expect­ing will start with Google serv­ing dif­fer­ent rank­ings based on the device that the user is search­ing with. We’ve seen this with local­iza­tion over the past 3 years, as Google serves dif­fer­ent results based on the city or ZIP code a user is search­ing from.

Google also recently rolled out Mobile Friendly test­ing and label­ing within mobile SERPs, I do not expect to see sites that are not mobile friendly in Google’s iPhone or Android device results next year. Google Now, and human behav­ior on Google Now, will drive the dif­fer­ences in SERPs, along with geo para­me­ters and per­son­al­iza­tion.

From an SEO per­spec­tive, this will con­tinue to dimin­ish the value of tra­di­tional rank­ings reports, as vis­i­bil­ity met­ric changes will more or less become infinite based on geo, device, and per­son­al­iza­tion. If com­pa­nies in 2015 are still using “Google USA” to track rank­ings, they will be a decade behind in suc­cess met­rics.

The sec­ond fac­tor that must be con­sid­ered with mobile growth is the enhanced call to action options on the mobile device. With Google cur­rently serv­ing CTA’s to call a loca­tion, get direc­tions to a loca­tion and lastly visit the web­site of a loca­tion in mobile list­ings, the com­mand to ‘call’ becomes the top action amongst mobile searchers. If proper call track­ing num­bers are not set up, proper lead and click chan­nel attri­bu­tion back to these mobile list­ings can be lost; off­set­ting SEO or Google dri­ven leads.

Mobile usage is grow­ing faster than a lot of sites and busi­nesses can keep up with, so pre­plan­ning to address this behav­ioral change by Google mobile users will become crit­i­cal in early 2015.

Daniel Bianchini, Director of Services at

Daniel Bianchini2015 will be another year of change in the SEO indus­try, with more of a shift towards user-focused cam­paigns. Under­stand­ing the tar­get audi­ence of a busi­ness is a key ele­ment to any mar­ket­ing dis­ci­pline, and search is no dif­fer­ent.

With the recent algo­rith­mic changes, con­tent has become an impor­tant focus for many busi­nesses, with increased bud­gets for areas such as con­tent mar­ket­ing. Mov­ing into 2015, this will con­tinue to grow, but there will be greater focus on the user. Under­stand­ing who they are, how they behave online, what type of con­tent they con­sume, how they con­sume it, and on which device, will be the dif­fer­ence between good and great SEO cam­paigns.

With the main aim of mar­ket­ing gen­er­ally to pro­mote prod­ucts, ser­vices and gen­er­at­ing rev­enue, uti­liz­ing data that is focused on your core audi­ence will enable you to gen­er­ate qual­i­fied traf­fic, lead­ing to an improved ROI.

To ensure that your SEO cam­paign will be a suc­cess in 2015, ensure that your deci­sions are based on user data.

Chris Boggs, Founder of

Chris BoggsOne of the biggest trends we will see in 2015 is a con­tin­ued ret­ro­spec­tive and pos­si­ble oblit­er­a­tion of past SEO imple­men­ta­tions, espe­cially for sites that have been at it for 8–10 years and longer. Although I am no phi­los­o­phy expert, I would say most brands don’t need to go as far as anar­chy, but that many exec­u­tives over­see­ing the SEO func­tion (and also the broader com­mu­nity) could cer­tainly ben­e­fit from some healthy decon­struc­tion.

Every unique indus­try and com­pet­i­tive sit­u­a­tion demands decon­struc­tion of the true pri­mary vs. sec­ondary nature of user expe­ri­ence to con­tent, and buzz/links to tacit author­ity, in order to grow per­for­mance at all lev­els of the fun­nel. This means, in my opin­ion, not every­one needs to be sexy! Be like those that per­form around you, where you want to per­form.

SEO means being there through­out the cycle. Each busi­ness model needs to look care­fully at the unique environment’s gran­u­lar regional level as well as where they can be rel­e­vant broadly across regions and through­out the user’s path to con­ver­sion.

Will Critchlow, Founder & CEO at Distilled

Will CritchlowAs we move into 2015, we are obvi­ously going to see key trends con­tinue from 2014, such as Google’s bias to “mobile first” think­ing as well as the ongo­ing evo­lu­tion of the search UX to include more knowl­edge graph and “answer graph” infor­ma­tion.

In my opin­ion, the biggest dif­fer­ence this com­ing year is going to be the increas­ing promi­nence of Google’s machine learn­ing capa­bil­i­ties. This will man­i­fest itself in two key areas:

  1. Increas­ing deploy­ment of machine learn­ing algo­rithms in the rank­ing fac­tors – lead­ing to both more gran­u­lar “topic-speci­fic” algo­rith­mic effects and the whole thing gen­er­ally appear­ing from the out­side to be more and more of a black box. My most con­crete pre­dic­tion in this area is that 2015 will see the first clear exam­ple of a rank­ing bug caused by unin­tended side effects of a machine learn­ing deploy­ment where even Google engi­neers them­selves aren’t quite sure what dials to turn to rem­edy the sit­u­a­tion
  2. Greater cov­er­age of nat­u­ral lan­guage pro­cess­ing-based answers and query refine­ments. We will start see­ing mea­sur­able fall-out as the com­mu­nity iden­ti­fies win­ners and losers from the ensu­ing shake-up of the search results.

My best action­able tip is to con­sider CRO as a search tech­nique in 2015. The closer Google approx­i­mates users’ pref­er­ences, the greater the reward to exper­i­ments used to dis­cover how users would prefer to inter­act with your site.

Brent Csutoras, Social Media Strategist at Kairay Media

Brent CsutorasHere are three key trends for brands to con­sider build­ing into their 2015 strate­gies:

1. Qual­ity Over Quan­tity

We have preached the whole “con­tent is king” con­cept for years, but in 2014 and going into 2015, qual­ity over quan­tity has become a real­ity every per­son and com­pany is going to have to embrace… and right­fully so. Con­sumers are no longer impressed by sim­ple avail­abil­ity of con­tent, but rather are start­ing to require bet­ter higher qual­ity con­tent, of which they feel it is worth the ded­i­cat­ing their time to con­sum­ing.

The plat­forms them­selves, like Face­book for instance, have shifted much of their focus to the qual­ity of the expe­ri­ence and the con­tent peo­ple are view­ing through their site. So if you do noth­ing else going into 2015, you should be focused on mak­ing sure the qual­ity of what you are cre­at­ing demands the respect of your read­ers.

2. Red­dit Red­dit is one of, if not the last, suc­cess­ful social aggre­ga­tion sites around today and has con­tin­ued to grow in size, expo­sure, and brand every sin­gle year. Red­dit boasts the largest Secret Santa pro­gram, has some of the biggest celebri­ties, politi­cians, and busi­ness­men as users, branded and made famous the con­cept of AMA and Memes, recently raised $50 mil­lion on a $500 mil­lion val­u­a­tion, and has become one of the largest chan­nels for direct to con­sumer mar­ket­ing on the entire web.

Unfor­tu­nately, Red­dit also takes the most work, under­stand­ing, patience, and ded­i­ca­tion of any other social site today. Com­pa­nies have really started to pay atten­tion to Red­dit in 2014, but I think 2015 will be the year that a wider audi­ence will real­ize Reddit’s value and start mak­ing stronger efforts to have a mean­ing­ful pres­ence within the site.

Red­dit is my num­ber 1 most rec­om­mended social site for clients who are ded­i­cated to suc­ceed­ing in social media.

3. Info­graph­ics

Info­graph­ics are not new, but they will con­tinue to grow in value and pop­u­lar­ity through 2015 and beyond. Info­graph­ics are extremely effec­tive in allow­ing read­ers to eas­ily digest and retain infor­ma­tion, result­ing in a num­ber of mar­ket­ing ben­e­fits. Com­pa­nies should con­tinue to look at cre­at­ing both reg­u­lar and inter­ac­tive Info­graph­ics, but really make sure they fit their brand and goals, have a story and path they take their reader through, and stand out above the com­pe­ti­tion.

Dave DaviesCEO at Beanstalk Internet Marketing

Dave DaviesThere are going to be two major areas of change in regards to organic search in 2015: mobile and Google updates and their broad­en­ing of scope.

1. Mobile

With­out a doubt, we’re going to see a big push in how mobile sites are expected to be opti­mized in 2015. With the addi­tion of Mobile Usabil­ity in Google Web­mas­ter Tools, it’s pres­ence in Google’s Page­Speed Insights and the addi­tion of the “Mobile Friendly” men­tion directly in Google’s search results when search­ing on mobile devices it’s clear that Google is putting a lot of effort into insur­ing that the mes­sage  that “mobile is crit­i­cal.”

Tak­ing gen­eral mobile usage stats out of the equa­tion, one can assume that the fine folks at Google are mon­i­tor­ing trends to a degree that vir­tu­ally no other entity can. The efforts Google is putting into mobile is a clear indi­ca­tion that hav­ing a good mobile mar­ket­ing strat­egy in 2015 is crit­i­cal, rather than being just a good idea.

2. Google Broad­ens The Scope Of Algo­rithm Updates

I expect to see fur­ther updates and man­ual actions tar­get­ing spam aggres­sively and likely sur­pass­ing any­thing we’ve seen thus far. Google’s focus is likely to be on a con­tin­u­a­tion of the Panda and Pen­guin fla­vors. That said, they will be expanded to con­sider aspects of onsite expe­ri­ence much more strongly than they do cur­rently.

In addi­tion, their under­stand­ing of link manip­u­la­tion will improve, mak­ing link build­ing increas­ingly dif­fi­cult. This will give a ben­e­fit to brands with large sites but likely only to those sites that con­tain a large amount of solid infor­ma­tive con­tent and not just large brands in-and-of them­selves.

I see Google pur­su­ing their advances into home automa­tion and man­age­ment and per­sonal infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing. This will include the devel­op­ment of devices sim­i­lar to Ama­zon Echo as well as the push into wear­able devices such as con­tact lenses with dig­i­tal dis­plays. If you think that’s far-fetched you should read their recent patents. The pur­pose here will be to col­lect more and more data from users and on their behav­ior allow­ing for the more sophis­ti­cated tar­get­ing of adver­tis­ing and a broader scope of where peo­ple can be adver­tised to.

Stoney deGeyter, President of Pole Position Marketing

Stoney deGeyterThe biggest trend for 2015 will be the con­tin­ued emer­gence of mobile mar­ket­ing and the need to fully inte­grate that into our web mar­ket­ing arse­nal. With more peo­ple using mobile devices to search, shop, and inter­act, and the seam­less way many move from device to desk­top and back to device, a fully inte­grated mobile mar­ket­ing strat­egy is nec­es­sary to not just com­pete, but to stay ahead of our tar­get audi­ence.

Any­one not fully invested in mobile mar­ket­ing today will begin to see their mar­ket­share erode. All other areas of web mar­ket­ing will begin to suf­fer, even as all the key ele­ments are in place. There will be lit­tle oppor­tu­ni­ties for busi­nesses to remain strong with­out that mobile com­po­nent in place.

Eric EngeCEO at Stone Temple Consulting

Eric EngeI think one big trend in 2015 will be the expan­sion of direct answers and the Knowl­edge Graph by Google. I expect that a lot will hap­pen in this area, and there is some chance that it will be quite dra­matic. Cer­tainly, we will see more direct answers, and more step by step instruc­tions and other ways of get­ting answers from 3rd party web sites.

One obser­va­tion is that Google cur­rently eas­ily ren­ders quite a bit of infor­ma­tion about rel­a­tively famous places, such as the Empire State build­ing or the Eif­fel tower, but they do not offer much up for a lot of other really well known places such as the Pru­den­tial Cen­ter here in Boston. This just one exam­ple of an area where there is a lot of room for expan­sion.

Another big area will be the con­tin­u­ing impact of mobile. For one thing, I bet that the mobile rank­ings boost, which is cur­rently an “exper­i­ment” will become per­ma­nent, and its impact may get increased. But, we should not over­look the other impacts of mobile as well. In 2014, Google began to let the needs of the mobile UI dic­tate the over­all search UI. We saw that in the form of remov­ing author­ship pho­tos and reduc­ing video snip­pets. We will prob­a­bly see more.

Erin Everhart, SEO Manager at Home Depot

I think (well, I hope) the biggest SEO trend of 2015 will be bet­ter man­age­ment and report­ing of our data. As dig­i­tal mar­keters, we are so for­tu­nate to have so much data avail­able to us, but we need to be more respon­si­ble in how we report on it.

What KPIs really mat­ter to our stake­hold­ers? How do you tell the dif­fer­ence between junk data and real action­able met­rics? What do those num­bers mean? What are we going to do because of it? S

EO doesn’t exist in a vac­uum, and frankly no dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing chan­nel does. Users inter­act with so many dif­fer­ent types because a pur­chase – from find­ing a link on Twit­ter, vis­it­ing the site, leav­ing to check Face­book, see­ing an ad for that pro­duct, using Google to find said pro­duct the next day – and the only way to get a clear pic­ture of how dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing is really impact­ing your pur­chas­ing fun­nel, we need to get smarter at first and last-touch attri­bu­tion mod­el­ing.

We’re close, and we have made tremen­dous strides in the last year alone, which gives me rea­son enough to believe that 2015 is going to be key.

Glenn Gabe, President of G-Squared Interactive

Glenn GabeI think one of the biggest trends we’ll see in SEO in 2015 relates to how brands iden­tify and fix prob­lems on their web­sites (in an effort to improve over­all site qual­ity). It’s what I’ve called “the nuclear option”.

In the past, major algo­rithm updates were launched on speci­fic dates and often con­firmed by Google. For exam­ple, Panda might have rolled out on a cer­tain date and Google would give us a heads-up that it actu­ally rolled out. But cer­tain algo­rithms have matured and roll out more fre­quently now. That can lead to a lot of con­fu­sion, espe­cially when mul­ti­ple major algo­rithms roll out around the same time (and can over­lap).

When that hap­pens, it becomes harder to iden­tify which algo­rithm update actu­ally impacted a web­site. Was it related to con­tent qual­ity, links, or some other fac­tor? And now that Pen­guin 3.0 has been rolling out for more than seven weeks, and Panda updates fre­quently, we are quickly approach­ing a time when major algo­rithms roam the web in near-real time. Talk about con­fus­ing.

This con­fu­sion, with the poten­tial of extended rank­ings demo­tions, has led some busi­ness own­ers to push the giant red but­ton and choose the nuclear option. That’s when you tackle all prob­lems rid­dling a web­site, and not just issues that might be caus­ing a speci­fic algo to tar­get your web­site. Those changes could include both on-site and off-site refine­ments (con­tent, links, becom­ing mobile-friendly, etc.)

For exam­ple, I was help­ing an ecom­merce com­pany in 2014 that had been hit by Panda and Pen­guin mul­ti­ple times. Their trend­ing from Google organic looked like a roller coaster ride from hell. After per­form­ing a deep audit, I rec­om­mended a boat­load of changes. The busi­ness owner looked at me, and then at the reme­di­a­tion plan, and chose to revamp every­thing. It was a bold move, but a smart one. The site absolutely surged back dur­ing Panda 4.0 and has seen even more improve­ment dur­ing sub­se­quent algo­rithm updates (includ­ing Panda tremors and Pen­guin 3.0).

Traffic improvements after Google algorithm updates

So, as we move into 2015, with more major algo­rithms matur­ing, rolling out more fre­quently, and with new sig­nals added tar­get­ing more fac­tors, I think we’ll see more peo­ple choose the nuclear option. And that’s a good thing. Brands can Panda-proof their web­sites, but they can also tackle Pen­guin and other algo­rithms while they’re at it. In addi­tion, they won’t have to worry about man­ual actions either, as other seri­ous prob­lems will be iden­ti­fied and fixed along the way.

Ashutosh Garg, Co-Founder & CTO of BloomReach

Ashutosh GargThe past few years have rapidly changed the way SEO pro­fes­sion­als oper­ate in their day-to-day job func­tions. The most impor­tant thing to note is that SEO should be a bypro­duct of user expe­ri­ence. Every­thing that they do should revolve around the cen­tral ques­tion, “Do my site vis­i­tors receive a rel­e­vant expe­ri­ence.”

How­ever, the most notable trend is that searchers have gone mobile sig­nif­i­cantly more, which changes what you should expect out of organic search. Many site man­agers have seen mobile traf­fic increase, but haven’t attracted the same vol­ume of mobile traf­fic from organic search that they’ve lost from the desk­top.

The prob­lem is that con­sumers are mov­ing quicker than sites can change, which leads to poor mobile expe­ri­ences. It’s a dou­ble whammy, because more peo­ple are com­ing through organic search on mobile devices only to receive poor mobile expe­ri­ences, and that leads to declin­ing traf­fic and over­all site qual­ity.

Casie Gillette, Director of Online Marketing at Komarketing Associates

Casie GilletteFirst and fore­most, brands should make sure they have a con­tent pro­mo­tion strat­egy in place. We are at the point now where peo­ple are actu­ally cre­at­ing con­tent but they may not nec­es­sar­ily be think­ing about what they are going to do with that con­tent.

A Con­tent Mar­ket­ing Insti­tute report noted 93 per­cent of online mar­keters are using con­tent mar­ket­ing but only 44 per­cent have a strat­egy. Yikes! If you are going to take the time to do the research and craft the con­tent, make sure you get the most bang for your buck.

The sec­ond thing brands need to do more of is inte­grat­ing their search and social teams. More often than not, I see the com­mu­ni­ca­tions team run­ning the social accounts and the SEO team doing their own thing. There is just so much ben­e­fit to the teams work­ing together! The search team knows which key­words peo­ple are search­ing for and the social team knows what peo­ple are ask­ing about. Those are two really impor­tant con­cepts that every­one on the mar­ket­ing team should know. Get them work­ing together.

Mike Grehan, CMO & Managing Director at Acronym Media

Mike GrehanTwo words for 2015: Mobile/Video Pre­dic­tions:

Mobile will han­dle the largest num­ber of search queries (beat­ing desk­top) and will become the num­ber two search engine after (mar­gin­ally – not a huge gap).

The biggest tip for any­one in SEO for 2015 is to ensure that con­tent is opti­mized per­fectly for mobile devices. And you need to think every­thing from smart­phone, to phablet and tablet. Google will reward mobile friendly sites. So be sure to send a clear sig­nal to Google to get that lit­tle extra boost in rank­ing for mobile searches.

One lit­tle tip I can give is to give a “hint” to Google­bot. When serv­ing dynam­i­cally (serv­ing dif­fer­ent code from the same URL depend­ing on the device) the mobile con­tent is actu­ally hid­den from Google­bot when crawled as a desk­top user agent. By using the Vary HTTP header, you can send a “hint” to Google to be sure that Google­bot for smart­phones crawls the page too. In fact, Google devel­op­ers have an excel­lent mobile guide that explains a ton about how to opti­mize for mobile.

In thou­sands of cases a video result is often bet­ter con­tent (as long as you under­stand the user intent). For instance, for many queries it’s bet­ter to show-and-tell than tell-and-tell. That means, a video show­ing some­body how to do some­thing is often more use­ful than a text page telling some­body how to do some­thing.

Google is very, very smart at under­stand­ing intent behind a query and there­fore will want to choose the most rel­e­vant type of con­tent to return. Be sure to have enough options by trans­form­ing the con­tent on pages that already rank for cer­tain queries and make it avail­able in video for­mat too. In fact, do an inven­tory check on all of your con­tent and try and eval­u­ate which of it could be bet­ter served in a video for­mat.

2015 – for SEO – think video to go!

Chris Hart, Head of Client Development, U.S., at Linkdex

Christopher HartLook for per­son­al­iza­tion to increase. Design and UI/UX will con­tinue to grow in impor­tance to the user’s over­all expe­ri­ence and their con­ver­sion rates. An exec­u­tive will con­vert dif­fer­ently than a house­wife, so why do they get the same expe­ri­ence?

Your users and poten­tial cus­tomers want to receive con­tent (text, images, video, etc.) that they feel is per­son­al­ized and tai­lored to their needs. It is not just about con­tent is king or more con­tent is more of a king. It is about the right con­tent at the right moment for the right users.

Big data is only going to keep get­ting big­ger. Dig­i­tal mar­keters will need to look at more data and make sig­nif­i­cantly more deci­sions on a daily basis. Plat­forms and tools that col­lect big data and enable dig­i­tal mar­keters to ana­lyze that infor­ma­tion will grow in neces­sity. Automa­tion will grow in value to a point, but those who are look­ing for a “set it and for­get it” solu­tion will fail.

The user jour­ney will con­tinue to grow into being chan­nel agnos­tic. Users will move between organic, paid, social, etc., at their own pace and make choices as they col­lect infor­ma­tion, engage with brands, and finally make some form of deci­sion.

We are well within the Age Of The Cus­tomer. Brands and agen­cies that can quickly tie together mul­ti­ple data points from dif­fer­ent mar­ket­ing chan­nels, and focus on the good of the cus­tomer, are going to win.

Finally, mobile “click to call” track­ing will be an impor­tant engage­ment met­ric, as cus­tomers and poten­tial cus­tomers are increas­ing more inter­ested in speak­ing to some­one before mak­ing a pur­chase deci­sion.

Bill Hartzer, Senior SEO Strategist at Globe Runner SEO

Bill HartzerThere are a few things brands should focus on dur­ing 2015:

  • Mobile will con­tinue to be a big issue – so mak­ing sure all of your brand assets are mobile-friendly is going to be imper­a­tive. When I say “mobile”, I’m refer­ring to not just cell phones/smart phones but also tablets, as well. 2015 will be the year that we see more and more web­sites finally move to respon­sive designs.
  • Mak­ing plans to move more online assets to HTTPS from HTTP should be built into your brand strat­egy. Not only is HTTPS a search engine rank­ing fac­tor now, users tend to trust secure web­sites more. Mak­ing sure your website’s vis­i­tors feel secure when they are on your web­site is key. That should include mov­ing to HTTPS and hav­ing all of the appro­pri­ate pri­vacy mea­sures in place, as well.
  • Focus­ing on link earn­ing rather than link build­ing as a strat­egy. Focus on cre­at­ing con­tent and work­ing in a pub­lic rela­tions strat­egy as part of your link earn­ing efforts. The old link build­ing tech­niques of the past are now out­dated.

Kristjan HaukssonCOO at SMFB Engine

You don’t have to be Nos­tradamus to pre­dict this one: fur­ther rise of mobile as a dri­ving force of SEO traf­fic.

I am still wait­ing for Facebook’s search engine 100 per­cent based on social media sig­nals, and I sus­pect we might see some­thing like that in the lat­ter half of 2015.

Some have said that SEO is dead, I don’t agree it just has been stig­ma­tized by those with heavy inter­est in paid search I am hop­ing that this will cor­rect itself in 2015 and that main­stream mar­keters will finally under­stand that sim­ple things like title tags of a web­site mat­ter and that there is actu­ally an ROI of cre­at­ing good con­tent.

Jim Hedger, Partner and Co-Founder, Digital Always Media

Jim HedgerGoogle has recently made a lot of changes favour­ing web­sites designed for mobile browsers. While they say they don’t give added weight to respon­sive design sites, it is clear Google very much wants web­mas­ters to think about how a web­site or page acts in the mobile envi­ron­ment.

New fea­tures found in Google Ana­lyt­ics (or Uni­ver­sal), and in Google Web­mas­ter Tools make work­ing toward mobile friendly design much eas­ier. If you’re suc­cess­ful, Google will dis­play a “mobile friendly” notice in search results gen­er­ated on mobile devices thus increas­ing your like­li­hood of earn­ing the user’s click.

Some­time in mid-April 2014 the num­ber of searches con­ducted on mobile devices exceeded the num­ber of searches con­ducted from a desk­top com­puter. For retail and ser­vice busi­nesses, mobile and local search are amaz­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties that should be highly ben­e­fi­cial mov­ing for­ward into and past 2015.

Jon Henshaw, Chief Product Officer and Co-Founder of Raven Internet Marketing Tools

Jon HenshawThe over­all trend for SEO has been to expand into other mar­ket­ing prac­tices with the inten­tion of pro­vid­ing a more inte­grated approach. For exam­ple, SEO has crossed over into con­tent mar­ket­ing, PR and even social. How­ever, the most recent addi­tion to SEOs’ tool kit is user expe­ri­ence (UX). I think in 2015 we’ll con­tinue to see more and more SEOs focus on UX.

The key area of UX they will insert them­selves into is con­tent pre­sen­ta­tion.

How users inter­act with con­tent directly affects its search engine vis­i­bil­ity, traf­fic and con­ver­sions. In 2015, expect to see SEO focus more on the fol­low­ing:

  • Increas­ing dwell time to sig­nal rel­e­vance to search engi­nes.
  • Improv­ing page deliv­ery and ren­der­ing speeds.
  • Imple­ment­ing respon­sive, mobile-friendly designs.
  • Test­ing and opti­miz­ing calls to action (CTAs) and con­ver­sions.

Simon Heseltine, Senior Director at AOL

Simon HeseltineIn 2015 we’re going to see more of the same from Google as we’ve seen in 2014. There’ll be refine­ments to Panda and Pen­guin (which they’ve said may now be a con­tin­u­ally rolling update), and other tweaks that will, as far as they’re con­cerned, con­tinue to provide rel­e­vance to users, and there­fore keep them com­ing back. There’ll be updates that will leave some smil­ing and oth­ers curs­ing, and Google will con­tinue to take some of your basic data and provide it to the searchers within their SERPs, rather than direct­ing them to your site.

As mobile con­tin­ues to grow, I can see there being more of a focus on reward­ing those sites that have opti­mized for mobile, so make sure that your mobile page speed is as close to that sub 1 sec­ond ideal as pos­si­ble.

All of this means SEO prac­ti­tion­ers are going to have to con­tinue to adapt, to be ready for change, to look at the next thing when it’s announced, deter­mine what makes sense for them to actu­ally imple­ment, to keep on top of what’s being talked about in the indus­try, to keep an eye on what’s work­ing for com­peti­tors, and to test and try out sce­nar­ios on their own sites.

Rae Hoffman, AKA Sugarrae, CEO of PushFire

Rae HoffmanMobile was huge in 2014, but it’s only going to get big­ger in 2015. Google spec­u­lated that mobile searches will out­num­ber desk­top searches before the end of 2014. Smart­phone con­ver­sions expe­ri­enced a 26 per­cent increase in Q3 over Q1 this year – and that’s a trend that ecom­merce retail­ers can’t afford to ignore.

Inter­net Retailer reports that less than 25 per­cent of the top 500 mobile retail­ers have respon­sive web­sites. That’s a huge win­dow of oppor­tu­nity for retail­ers will­ing to make mobile a pri­or­ity in the com­ing year. Posi­tion­ing your site for mobile search should be the num­ber one generic pri­or­ity for com­pa­nies who value their online pres­ence.

Addi­tion­ally, despite the pre­dic­tions year after year, link build­ing still isn’t dead. But the days of uncre­ative, lazy, cheap, and “SEO value only” loop­holes are gone.

I think one of the biggest trends we will see start in 2015 is that com­pa­nies will begin aban­don­ing the out­sourcing of link build­ing to agen­cies and instead begin to bring the process in house. Hir­ing the wrong firm can bring about dis­as­trous results in the post-Pen­guin era. And in 2015, the links that rank you defen­si­bly come from cre­ative cam­paigns, amaz­ing con­tent ini­tia­tives and try­ing to serve the user – and those cam­paigns are hard to out­source and hard to scale.

I’m not say­ing “just build great con­tent and you’ll get links.” That’s pro­pa­ganda Google likes to pitch. The “new” link build­ing still requires that acquir­ing links be a part of the strat­egy behind – and how you work, cre­ate and pro­mote – each cam­paign.

The new link build­ing is sim­ply a bypro­duct of busi­ness build­ing. And most com­pa­nies will get the best, long-term results on that end from invest­ing in hir­ing and train­ing inter­nal resources.

Bill Hunt, President of Back Azimuth Consulting

Bill HuntI believe, well, at least hope, that in 2015 com­pa­nies will bet­ter inte­grate SEO into their exist­ing web and con­tent work­flows. At the last few con­fer­ences there have been more ques­tions about scal­ing the web con­tent work­flow and how to iden­tify and hire peo­ple to strate­gi­cally approach the com­plex­i­ties of mod­ern SEO.

We will see more inter­nal cen­ters of excel­lence cre­ated to edu­cate across teams to ensure sites and new con­tent is opti­mized at the time of cre­ation rather than being fixed later. Dig­i­tal agen­cies need to wake up and see this change. I have talked to a cou­ple of multi-brand com­pa­nies that have put their agen­cies in notice that non-opti­mized con­tent will not be accepted. They have added this not only to the brief but in con­tracts an in accep­tance test­ing check­lists.

Mark Jackson, CEO at Vizion Interactive

Mark JacksonSome­thing that I believe is the big­ger pic­ture ele­ment of SEO that will be addressed in the com­ing year is a more sophis­ti­cated, strate­gic approach to con­tent mar­ket­ing and usabil­ity.

SEO prac­ti­tion­ers will become more val­ued mem­bers of the wider “mar­ket­ing team,” and hence brought into projects involv­ing the devel­op­ment of tar­get audi­ences and/or “per­sonas.” From this research, more time (bud­get) will be pushed toward the cura­tion of con­tent rel­e­vant to each core audi­ence, and more research will be done to ensure that the right con­tent is reach­ing the right peo­ple at the right time and place. Part of this “SEO” effort will involve paid means to pro­mote con­tent (Face­book promotion/ads, etc.), so that con­tent is ampli­fied to the appro­pri­ate audi­ences, and so that con­tent can build upon a company’s brand, cita­tions and – yes – links.

While Pen­guin, Panda, Pigeon, and any other “P” ani­mal may be impor­tant to understand/track and mon­i­tor, the biggest update that Google has pushed in recent years has been Vince. Google sees “brands” as the solu­tion, and not the prob­lem. Build­ing a brand online requires reach/frequency, just as it does in the tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing world.

As has always been the case for reach/frequency mar­ket­ing to build brand, it’s not enough to sim­ply “buy eye­balls” (impres­sions). You must reach the right eye­balls, hence why iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of the tar­get audience/personas is so vital to the process.

Cre­at­ing the right con­tent for the right peo­ple is a very impor­tant ele­ment of usabil­ity.

With many tools that are now widely avail­able, we can iden­tify these demographics/target audiences/personas and under­stand the influ­encers for each of these tar­gets. By curat­ing con­tent that “speaks to” these groups, and pro­mot­ing it (PR/social media/outreach), you will be build­ing the sig­nals that the search engi­nes will be look­ing for in 2015, and – my guess – well beyond.

Ammon JohnsInternet Marketing Consultant

Ammon JohnsThere are the three big trends, lack­ing in the cool buzz­words of the moment, but the ones that will actu­ally drive the most results on the bot­tom line:

1. Inte­gra­tion of multi-chan­nel, multi-touch strate­gies with appro­pri­ate struc­ture inter­nally.

More and more, both seman­tic search and peo­ple use a wider vari­ety of sources, data streams, and aware­ness than was pre­vi­ously tar­geted. This means that inte­grated mar­ket­ing, mak­ing all of your diverse chan­nels work together, holis­ti­cally and rein­forc­ing each other, is a core trend for actual results.

Nat­u­rally, this is a lot eas­ier to talk about than to actu­ally achieve. Larger com­pa­nies strug­gle with issues of own­er­ship, inter-depart­men­tal com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and mul­ti­ple inputs, includ­ing from out­source ser­vices.

Inte­grat­ing multi-touch, multi-chan­nel strate­gies is com­plex and almost impos­si­ble until the shift in mind­set needed is accom­plished. Much of the shift is in ana­lyt­ics and cred­it­ing a sin­gle source with suc­cess. We have to move away from wor­ry­ing about get­ting the credit, and move toward empow­er­ing other depart­ments to get the result. Team­work above glory, and bonuses that under­stand the multi-touch, many hands strate­gies.

2. Brand-build­ing as a core focus where your most impor­tant key­words are your brand terms and cre­at­ing more search on them.

Seman­tic search is not a trend, it is a real­ity. The trend you need to focus on is the trend toward brand aware­ness and brand­ing as core strate­gies. Brand is not just a strat­egy for larger busi­nesses, and brand­ing is not just about your color scheme and logo. Brand is a small word for the big con­cept of “how peo­ple think about you and your prod­ucts”.

As we have less and less free or reli­able data about the key­words each vis­i­tor actu­ally uses, we have to rely a lot less on mir­ror­ing their lan­guage, and a lot more on mak­ing a deeper con­nec­tion – that is brand. Ide­ally, your entire online strat­egy today should be about dri­ving peo­ple to not just see your pro­duct or offer, but more impor­tantly, to make them search directly for your brand the next time they are look­ing.

Make searches for your brand names and brand terms a top pri­or­ity not to win, but to increase period on period.

3. Improv­ing CLV (Cus­tomer Life­time Value) through bet­ter reten­tion and engage­ment and evan­ge­liza­tion of cus­tomers already attracted.

Finally, accept that cus­tomer loy­alty is a fickle thing. If we were inher­ently loyal crea­tures there would not be any ecom­merce, as peo­ple would still be loy­ally using the stores they had before. Work­ing on your cus­tomer life­time val­ues, on cre­at­ing loy­alty pro­grams that work and incen­tivize loy­alty, and increas­ing engage­ment are all core trends that have been talked about for years but still have a long, long way to go.

Dixon Jones, Marketing Director at Majestic

Dixon Jones2015 is going to see a shift in how dig­i­tal mar­keters see and mea­sure their world.

Until now, mar­keters have had to rely on ana­lyz­ing who and how peo­ple come to their company’s web­sites, and start­ing to mea­sure their return on mar­ket­ing spend in terms of con­ver­sions on the web­site. The alter­na­tive until now has been to accept that the con­ver­sa­tion in the wider world is harder to track. But two things have changed:

  • The entire fun­nel from brand aware­ness, through cus­tomer trans­ac­tion and onto cus­tomer reten­tion and finally advo­cacy is now hardly ever tracked on the web­site, except, per­haps, at the moment of pur­chase. All the other aspects of build­ing a loyal cus­tomer base take place else­where – from social net­works, to bars and events, to third party Face­book apps. Web­site ana­lyt­ics are strug­gling to provide any coher­ent pic­ture.
  • The rise of Data Exchange tech­nol­ogy and vast improve­ments in the abil­ity to inter­ro­gate ter­abytes and petabytes of infor­ma­tion, makes it pos­si­ble to start see­ing needles in haystacks. Already, inex­pen­sive tech­nolo­gies exist to inter­ro­gate sin­gle sources: Twit­ter feeds, Links to web­sites, Face­book con­ver­sa­tions for exam­ple. Appli­ca­tions are spring­ing up that are try­ing to har­ness mul­ti­ple big data sources and cre­ate not just a view of the busi­ness in that ecosys­tem, but store com­plete ecosys­tems, record­ing every tweet, every men­tion, ever search engine list­ing, every link, every TV advert, every pro­duct pur­chase, every mobile app down­load and the social influ­ence of every per­son involved in the chain. Once the data is all laid down, new ways to ana­lyze a brand’s world will be avail­able to peo­ple in new and excit­ing cloud based dash­boards.

The amount of money being piled into this area is vast. Some com­pa­nies are build­ing the dash­board inter­faces, oth­ers are work­ing on the stor­age solu­tions and oth­ers are work­ing on own­ing their part of the big data sources.

What’s clear is that the moment of Momen­tol­ogy will arrive only when these com­pa­nies make the deals needed to share each other’s exper­tise. I think 2015 will be the year.

Ryan Jones, Manager Search Strategy & Analytics at SapientNitro

Ryan JonesAs we move into 2015 and beyond there’s a cou­ple of trends we need to keep at the fore­front of our mar­ket­ing strate­gies.

The par­a­digm of search is shift­ing. Search is no longer about typ­ing key­words into a com­puter. We speak to our phones and watches and we search by tak­ing pho­tos. As wear­able com­put­ing grows it will become more depen­dent on search and con­tinue to change the par­a­digm of how we search.

Bill Gates said it best years ago when he said “the future of search is verbs.” We’re search­ing less for fac­toids and more for help accom­plish­ing some sort of task. We use search to help us solve prob­lems. We don’t just type in key­words any­more, we ask the search engine a ques­tion – lit­er­ally, using voice search.

We need to shift our focus to one that puts mobile-first, remain cog­nizant of how the user expe­ri­ence across all kinds of devices affects search, and most impor­tantly train our­selves to think less about key­words and more about enti­ties.

Julie Joyce, Owner of Str0ud LLC and Link Fish Media

Julie JoyceThe biggest trend for 2015 will involve mobile every­thing. If your site doesn’t do well on mobile devices, you’re going to get left behind. With more and more peo­ple using mobile instead of desk­top search, rank­ings are not going to save you if your site takes a full min­ute to load or cer­tain func­tion­al­ity isn’t avail­able on an iPhone.

Usabil­ity is not some­thing any of us can ignore. Much of the time, when we think about online mar­ket­ing, we don’t pay nearly enough atten­tion to mobile. F

rom a link per­spec­tive, if you get a great link on a high author­ity site but that site doesn’t load prop­erly on an iPad, you’ve just lost your chance for some great mobile traf­fic. That link might help you rank higher but if no one sees it when they’re search­ing on mobile, you’re out of luck.

Krista LaRiviere, Cofounder & CEO at gShift

Krista LaRiviereThe pri­mary trend in SEO in 2015 will be con­tent mar­ket­ing and the dis­cov­er­abil­ity of that con­tent in search and social. There are two related sec­ondary trends that smart mar­keters will rec­og­nize that will set their strate­gies and out­comes apart from com­peti­tors. Those sec­ondary trends are:

  1. Key­word-dri­ven con­tent for the sales fun­nel.
  2. Con­tent dis­tri­b­u­tion.

Smart dig­i­tal mar­keters are already using data to inform their con­tent mar­ket­ing work­flow process. Often­times con­tent cre­ation is unknow­ingly focused on only the aware­ness stage of the sales fun­nel. There is an oppor­tu­nity for brands to more deeply under­stand, through key­word research, how their prospects’ search terms change as they pro­gress through the sales fun­nel and where their con­tent gaps are.

Cre­at­ing con­tent for each stage of the sales fun­nel based on key­word pro­gres­sion and under­stand­ing con­ver­sion of con­tent through the fun­nel will become key in 2015.

Strate­gic and thought­ful dis­tri­b­u­tion of con­tent is one of the most over­looked aspects of the con­tent mar­ket­ing work­flow process and mar­keters will start to pay more atten­tion to it in 2015. Many resources are spent cre­at­ing con­tent but not enough on dis­trib­ut­ing it at the right time in the right chan­nels to the right audi­ence.

Con­tent, even a blog post, that is only distributed/published to a web­site and min­i­mally social­ized through an organization’s social chan­nel, is really only scratch­ing the sur­face. Brands need to seek out social influ­encers and think of each influ­encer as a dis­tri­b­u­tion point for their con­tent.

With con­tent mar­ket­ing con­tin­u­ing to be at the core of owned and earned dig­i­tal strate­gies, the acronym SEO in 2015 deserves to evolve from Search Engine Opti­miza­tion to Strate­gies for Earned and Owned.

Matt McGee, Editor-In-Chief at Search Engine Land & Marketing Land

Matt McGeeMobile, mobile, mobile. I think it would be a huge mis­take for brands to ignore mobile SEO.

Google has been hint­ing for a while now that your site’s mobile friend­li­ness will become a rank­ing fac­tor soon, and that seems likely to hap­pen in 2015. They’re already test­ing it, in fact. And aside from chang­ing how sites rank, Google is already telling mobile users when a site is mobile friendly and when it’s not, and that’s bound to impact click-through rates from the mobile search results.

Beyond the Google fac­tor, mobile mat­ters for con­sumers across the board. I’ve been fas­ci­nated to see how much traf­fic is shift­ing to mobile devices even in indus­tries where you don’t expect it.

Obvi­ously, indus­tries like travel and enter­tain­ment and restau­rants are see­ing big increases in mobile traf­fic in the last cou­ple years. But I’ve seen the same in indus­tries like real estate and insur­ance and oth­ers.

Brands don’t have the excuse any­more where they can say, “Our cus­tomers aren’t really doing much search­ing on mobile devices.” Mobile search is a trend that’s here and not going away.

James Murray, Search Advertising Lead, Microsoft

James MurrayOne of the trends we’re expect­ing to see in 2015 is a greater adop­tion of voice search, par­tic­u­larly with the rise of mobile per­sonal assis­tants like Siri, Cor­tana and Google Now. For SEO prac­ti­tion­ers, this means think­ing about how voice search will impact the type of queries that are being made and there­fore what they need to opti­mize for.

The impor­tant thing to remem­ber is that peo­ple are gen­er­ally less con­cise when they’re talk­ing than when they’re typ­ing – so we could see a return of long query searches that were promi­nent ten years ago like “nice fam­ily hol­i­days for 4 in the Bahamas” rather than “cheap Bahamas hol­i­day”.

Voice also means that seman­tic search is going to become a lot more pow­er­ful. Try typ­ing “I’m hun­gry” into a search engine right now and the results you will get will be dread­ful because they’re dri­ven by key­word rather than seman­tic search. As search engi­nes start to under­stand what we mean by these nat­u­ral lan­guage queries sud­denly “I’m hun­gry” could be best con­vert­ing query for any restau­rant or take­away ser­vice, because the intent behind that search couldn’t be clearer – I need food, show me some­where to sat­isfy my hunger.

Per­sonal assis­tants have the great­est poten­tial to lever­age the strengths of both voice and seman­tic search, as they can under­stand the con­text of the query and match that with the infor­ma­tion they know about the user, such as their likes, loca­tion, habits, etc. This com­bi­na­tion of voice and seman­tic search will ulti­mately deliver a more per­son­al­ized and rel­e­vant search expe­ri­ence which will enable peo­ple to be more pro­duc­tive.

Chuck Price, Founder of Measurable SEO

Chuck PriceSmart mar­keters will need to fol­low a dual track to ensure suc­cess in 2015 while simul­ta­ne­ously plan­ning for the future. There may be 200+ sig­nals incor­po­rated into the Google algo­rithm, but right now, two com­po­nents carry more weight than all oth­ers com­bined: con­tent and back­links.

That’s not con­jec­ture – just look where Google has invested their resources. In addi­tion to per­pet­ual refreshes and updates, Google has devel­oped two stand­alone algo­rithms, Panda and Pen­guin. One mea­sures qual­ity of con­tent and the other mea­sures qual­ity of links. (Not to men­tion exe­cu­tion of man­ual link penalties)

A com­pre­hen­sive con­tent mar­ket­ing plan sup­ported by an effec­tive link build­ing pro­gram should be the cor­ner­stone of any enter­prise level dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing plan in 2015. A well thought out social media plan for mes­sag­ing and brand build­ing should also be woven into these activ­i­ties. Being mobile friendly is a given. Done prop­erly, these activ­i­ties alone, will keep you ahead of the pack, today.

Look­ing for­ward, searcher intent and the con­tex­tual mean­ing of searched phrases will play a larger role in search results. Seman­tic search will likely be accel­er­ated by the explo­sion of mobile devices and the accom­pa­ny­ing jump in con­ver­sa­tional search.

Every­one should be uti­liz­ing for adding struc­tures data and rich snip­pets to their sites. Get­ting events into the Knowl­edge Graph should become a pri­or­ity item, if it isn’t already.

Matt Roberts, Chief Strategy Officer at Linkdex

MattRoberts1SEO. A Busi­ness Intel­li­gence Team.

I pre­dict that intel­li­gence gath­ered about the organic search ecosys­tem will be requested, adopted, and val­ued by other stake­holder teams inside busi­nesses.

This will include insights on the con­tent that needs to be writ­ten, the wider media and influ­encer ecosys­tem that needs to be man­aged, the affil­i­ate deals should be cre­ated, and com­mer­cial part­ner­ships need to be pri­or­i­tized.

The impor­tance of these insights is not being dri­ven by SEO prac­ti­tion­ers want­ing to carve out a new more influ­en­tial role, it’s being dri­ven by con­sumers. Con­sumer turn to organic search all the way through the pur­chase fun­nel. Much more than social and paid media. Man­ag­ing this chan­nel in a much smarter way is the only way for­ward.

Our clients are there now and exploit­ing their com­peti­tors blind spot. The rest will edge towards this model in 2015.

Dave Rohrer, Domestic SEO Lead at Covario

Dave RohrerI know that this will be wish­ful think­ing, but in 2015 I see more com­pa­nies lis­ten­ing to their SEO team when it comes to con­tent cre­ation. I think we will see more com­pa­nies move from gen­er­at­ing con­tent for the sake of hav­ing con­tent to tar­get a key­word, and will instead think through the process of cre­at­ing that video, image, or text piece of con­tent.

For years SEO prac­ti­tion­ers have asked for con­tent on a page and for a long time we were told no. Then we moved to also want­ing to cre­ate arti­cles, blogs, video, images and even tell sto­ries with inter­ac­tive con­tent. When we did get con­tent pro­duced it often was in the voice of the brand or very salesy, and rarely was it edu­ca­tional.

Fast for­ward a bit and you see many brands get that they need con­tent, some to the point where they have become almost con­tent mills. The con­tent that is churned out is thin, unimag­i­na­tive con­tent because – “Well, you said we needed con­tent!”

SEO prac­ti­tion­ers have long past the premise of con­tent for the sake of con­tent and now are focused on qual­ity over quan­tity. In 2015 those that want to suc­ceed need to con­tinue focus­ing on try­ing to align con­tent cre­ation with intent and solv­ing a prob­lem for the user.

Con­tent needs to be great and not filler. Con­tent needs to answer a ques­tion and not just tar­get a keyword/phrase. I already see some brands start­ing to think this way and in 2015 I think more will con­tinue to think of con­tent as not just some­thing that their SEO says they need to do.

Kristine Schachinger, CEO & Founder of The Vetters

In 2015 we will see the con­tin­ued matur­ing of the mobile and social in terms of meth­ods, mea­sure­ment, and ROI. How­ever, I think it is pos­si­ble we will also see major shifts at Google and in the search mar­ket.


I think the focus on mobile has been over-hyped as the types of searches are pri­mar­ily con­tex­tual and lim­ited to ecom­merce and what I call “infonuggets”. Infonuggets are real time infor­ma­tion or knowl­edge bits (like the Movies, Pro­duct Reviews or Google Knowl­edge graph) that are speci­fic to cer­tain ver­ti­cals and occur because your mobile device is with you many hours, even all hours of the day, mak­ing it con­ve­nient. This does not make it unim­por­tant or some­thing to be over­looked, but it does not make it a rea­son to shift all focus to mobile unless your mar­ket specif­i­cally ben­e­fits from mobile search.

User intent, con­text of search and prox­im­ity are all key met­rics in dri­ving mobile, this means there are many ver­ti­cals where mobile should not dom­i­nate site design, mar­ket­ing or strat­egy. Know your mar­ket. That being said, your web­site bet­ter be mobile friendly. Google has made it clear that is not a choice any­more.


I think Google will pull back from the sever­ity of the Pen­guin update (whether it is rolling or not). It is a resource inten­sive process for Google to keep up with dis­avow forms and link lists.

On a per­sonal note, I believe Google will even­tu­ally kill the Pen­guin process in the next year or so. While a spam algo­rithm may exist called Pen­guin, it will make no sense to con­tinue this process of killing sites and review­ing dis­avow lists indef­i­nitely. They got the data they needed (link sell­ers), now they need to find a way to grace­fully exit as the data given in the link lists has often become mean­ing­less as site own­ers dis­avow every­thing.

In addi­tion on the algo­rithm front, I think they will con­tinue in their addi­tion of algo­rithms that have noth­ing to do with web­spam, but site qual­ity. We have seen this change of focus in 2013 and 2014, there is no rea­son to think it will lessen in 2015.


Finally, I think there will be a push back from not just the EU coun­tries on Google pri­vacy issues, but with con­sumers. Con­sumers are becom­ing more aware of the poten­tial costs of track­ing and per­son­al­iza­tion as more and more data is con­sumed.

This aware­ness will open avenues for new meth­ods of search deliv­ery and I think Ama­zon with Echo and its exten­sions will be going after Google’s “we do it before you ask for it” search from the pull, not push per­spec­tive as they per­fect voice.

Grant Simmons, VP of Search Marketing at Dominion Enterprises

Grant SimmonsThere are still way too many brands that don’t under­stand their cus­tomers enough to tar­get them with the right mes­sage at the right time.

I spoke recently at a con­fer­ence for the Mul­ti­fam­ily indus­try (apart­ment man­agers), and pre­sented “The Renter’s Deci­sion Jour­ney” – demon­strat­ing the trig­gers, touch­points and influ­encers in find­ing an apart­ment – and it was quite obvi­ous that even the larger of the Prop­erty Man­age­ment com­pa­nies still weren’t bas­ing their mar­ket­ing strat­egy on their customer’s path to “pur­chase” and the con­tex­tual dif­fer­ences of each touch­point.

And therein lies the magic phrase for 2015 “con­text con­tent mar­ket­ing.”

Con­text neces­si­tates a micro gran­u­lar way of select­ing and seg­ment­ing audi­ences whereby one focuses on the under­stand­ing of their needs at one par­tic­u­lar point in time. It moves dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing from key­words, chan­nels, and devices toward real­time solu­tions.

Con­text is device agnos­tic, loca­tion-aware, and behav­iorally adept, deriv­ing insights from large data sets pow­ered by con­nected devices.

Con­text in 2015 will help define and refine con­tent strate­gies based on non-desk­top search expe­ri­ences where SEO becomes about hyper rel­e­vance, hyper focus, and hyper value.

Advice? Build out key cus­tomer pro­files, define and track met­rics that mat­ter, look for more con­nected prod­ucts to inform search strat­egy (big, deep, and wide data), and then pro­duce rel­e­vant con­tent, in the most appro­pri­ate media, that will serve per­fectly on whichever device is con­tex­tu­ally rel­e­vant.

Aleyda Solis, Founder at Orainti

Aleyda SolisI believe 2015 will be a year when we will see the growth of seman­tic search and opti­miza­tion, as well as mobile and mul­ti­de­vice SEO, which is finally a real­ity in 2014 and will become key in 2015.

With mobile search pre­dicted to over­come desk­top in 2014 and Google exper­i­ment­ing with mobile opti­miza­tion as an SEO rank­ing fac­tor now, com­pa­nies have been more and more look­ing dur­ing this year to tackle this oppor­tu­nity by invest­ing on pro­vid­ing the best mobile web expe­ri­ence to their users, cus­tomers, and search engi­nes.

This will become a stan­dard in 2015 SEO plans for brands, which should also start tak­ing their app opti­miza­tion into con­sid­er­a­tion with app index­ing now pos­si­ble with Google.

Charity Stebbins, Senior Content Strategist at Conductor

Charity StebbinsCon­sumers will make this demand more clearly than ever in 2015: their own per­son­al­ized web ecosys­tem. Cus­tomers feel enti­tled to a brand expe­ri­ence on their own terms, and will increas­ingly resist com­pa­nies that don’t cater to their per­sona or how buy-ready they are. As a result, we’ll see SEO prac­ti­tion­ers turn­ing their atten­tion from key­words toward tar­geted con­tent.

Nat­u­rally, search engi­nes will be react­ing to this demand, too. I wouldn’t be sur­prised to see an algo­rithm shift that serves con­tent based on rel­e­vance to a searcher’s per­sona. When that hap­pens, brands who have already started seg­ment­ing their con­tent by per­sona and stage will have a siz­able advan­tage.

Nichola Stott, Founder & Managing Director at theMediaFlow

Nichola StottIn terms of trends, we’re really see­ing SEO take its right­ful place as a cred­i­ble mar­ket­ing dis­ci­pline next to PR, con­tent mar­ket­ing, and offline. At times in the past we’ve found it chal­leng­ing to posi­tion SEO as a strate­gic mar­ket­ing chan­nel to our clients, or to help our clients fight their cor­ner to share­hold­ers; when it comes to sta­tus, cre­dence, and bud­get.

Maybe it’s because of mar­ket mat­u­ra­tion, maybe past agents have obfus­cated bad work, maybe it’s because of more good agen­cies doing a good job in edu­cat­ing their clients as to what they do and how they do it? Regard­less of why, we’re see­ing an ele­vated sta­tus for SEO and more and more clients are pulling us in to col­lab­o­rate at board level.

My big trend for 2015 is for greater inte­gra­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion between clients and all their mar­ket­ing agents. Under­pinned by some great cloud-based project and task man­age­ment tools that are out there at the moment, there’s no rea­son why these chan­nel spe­cial­ists can’t share some aspects of knowl­edge and cam­paign direc­tion.

My tips to brands would be as fol­lows:

  • Present your vision and focus for your whole mar­ket­ing strat­egy to all agents and stake­hold­ers together.
  • Get each agency lead (or in-house lead for that chan­nel) to present their company’s role in the above, explain­ing how their strat­egy fits and sup­ports that vision and focus.
  • Inves­ti­gate cloud-based col­lab­o­ra­tion and work­flow tools like Base­camp, Asana, and even Google Docs. Any­thing that will help facil­i­tate agile cam­paign evo­lu­tion and peer feed­back for key mile­stones.
  • Con­sider strate­gies for own­er­ship and account­abil­ity. Make these cross-func­tional teams feel val­ued and in it together.

Finally, one word of cau­tion for 2015. We’re see­ing a lot of brands move towards cre­ative agen­cies and con­tent mar­ket­ing agen­cies to ful­fill their SEO, which in so many cases means that the tech­ni­cal aspect is com­pletely ignored or just plain wrong. With­out a robust tech­ni­cal SEO set-up under­pin­ning your web­site opti­miza­tion, any­thing else you spend on cam­paigns and con­tent is inef­fi­cient at best.

Kaila Strong, Senior Director of SEO Services at Vertical Measures

Kaila StrongIn 2015 I think one of the biggest trends myself and my team will be focused on is micro-opti­miza­tion. As SEO prac­ti­tion­ers we need to slow down and really dive into micro oppor­tu­ni­ties to opti­mize web­sites and see improve­ments in the com­ing year.

Let’s face it, for clients and our own sites a list starts to build of the activ­i­ties essen­tial for SEO and “nice to have”. Rang­ing from server level opti­miza­tion to reduc­ing page load speed, these are the projects that require more in depth research, test­ing, and invest­ment. This year I think we’ll see more of the “nice to have” items finally addressed.

You’re sure to have a list of projects you know would help improve SEO, but just don’t have the time to invest. Maybe it’s as sim­ple (or not so sim­ple!) as finally rewrit­ing those meta titles of your prod­ucts or finally set­ting up a canon­i­cal map for your web­site.

Look­ing for­ward to the com­ing year I feel that the indus­try will start to see this shift hap­pen­ing more and more, for brands of all sizes. Even the best of the best have improve­ments that can be made.

Find what you can improve and do a lit­tle bit to get there every day. It only takes 1 per­cent every­day to add up to remark­able improve­ment, and SEO is no dif­fer­ent.

Brett Tabke, CEO at Pubcon

Brett TabkeI see three major trends over the next year:

  1. The con­tin­u­a­tion of mobile expan­sion and adop­tion by con­sumers. Phone func­tions are replac­ing their desk­top coun­ter­parts at a brisk pace. The trend lends itself to “app” and “thing” or “device” opti­miza­tion. The trend is that we are mov­ing away from SEO as “search engine” opti­miza­tion and towards “user/device/app/space/presence” or expe­ri­ence immer­sion opti­miza­tion. We want our con­tent to be opti­mized and present where ever poten­tial clients are look­ing at con­tent.
  2. Face­book Ads. We’ve been wait­ing, plead­ing, hop­ing and beg­ging for it for years. I once again hope this is the year Face­book gets over it’s ner­vous­ness and launches Atlas as avail­able to all web­site own­ers. If that hap­pens, Google may have to wake up and actu­ally treat web­site own­ers as human beings for once.
  3. Vir­tual Real­ity 2015. It begins with Ocu­lus, Gear VR, and Sony Project Mor­pheus as they hit the mar­ket in 2015. VR is going to con­sume mar­ket share of “every­thing.” Every device, every plat­form, every­thing is bet­ter in VR. The time­line is yet-to-be-seen, but it is com­ing, and mar­keters need to stay informed. I can’t say it any bet­ter than good old Mor­pheus from The Matrix: “No one can be told what it is – you have to see it for your­self”.

Marcus Tandler, Partner at Tandler.Doerje.Partner

Marcus TandlerThe biggest SEO trend I’m pre­dict­ing for 2015 is def­i­nitely mobile opti­miza­tion.

There’s more peo­ple access­ing Google via mobile devices now then via desk­top search, so Google has really become a mobile first com­pany. There­fore, the mobile friend­li­ness of web­pages is becom­ing more and more impor­tant.

There´s even a new “Mobile Usabil­ity” report in Google Web­mas­ter Cen­tral to make web­mas­ters aware of these new mobile chal­lenges. There´s also a new “mobile friendly” label pop­ping up in mobile SERPs to high­light pages that are opti­mized for mobile use.

So if lots of your users are com­ing through mobile search, you should really focus on get­ting your web­site prop­erly opti­mized for mobile to not get over­run by mobile savvy com­peti­tors.

Purna Virji, Director of Communications at Petplan

Purna VirjiA very pos­i­tive trend I see for SEO in 2015 is the focus shift­ing back squarely on the user. This means:

  • Web­sites will be forced to be faster and more user-friendly, with a focus on mobile design first in order to com­pete.
  • Per­sona-dri­ven, rel­e­vant, high-qual­ity con­tent will be cre­ated, based on very rel­e­vant audi­ence insights, with an equal focus on on-site user engage­ment met­rics in addi­tion to link earn­ing poten­tial.
  • With seman­tic search becom­ing more pow­er­ful, door­way pages and thin-con­tent pages will lessen, as the focus is more con­tex­tual as opposed to key­word-related, mak­ing for a more nat­u­ral user expe­ri­ence on the site.
  • The SEO’s role and sphere of influ­ence within an orga­ni­za­tion will con­tinue to expand. In order to bet­ter serve the cus­tomer and be more vis­i­ble, SEOs will have to work much more closely with PR, brand, social, cus­tomer ser­vice, copy­writ­ing and paid adver­tis­ing teams.
  • Brand­ing and rep­u­ta­tion will be even more impor­tant as trust met­rics will con­tinue to increase in impor­tance.

Fili Wiese & Kaspar Szymanski of Search Brothers

Fili Wiese & Kaspar SzymanskiUser expe­ri­ence mar­ket­ing (UXM) is the big thing and it’s spread­ing fast. We are mov­ing fast from an indus­try obsess­ing for years over back­links, their actual value hardly to be assessed objec­tively towards peo­ple engine opti­miza­tion, a term suc­cess­fully coined by Danny Sul­li­van and even­tu­ally toward online-rela­tion­ship mar­ket­ing.

Under­stand­ing users, not merely your prospec­tive tar­get audi­ence, already is the key to con­ver­sion traf­fic diver­sity. That does not mean clas­sic SEO ground­work will become obso­lete. By all means, mak­ing sure search engi­nes and users under­stand your web­site and can access it remains a key ele­ment. But build­ing your busi­ness only on that foun­da­tion is a strat­egy of the past and as we know a reck­less one.

Going for­ward we as web mar­keters will invest sig­nif­i­cantly more time into build­ing audi­ences and rela­tion­ships, not just PageR­ank-juicy links. The future is UXM which cov­ers cre­ation of user tests, pro­duct design, inter­ac­tion design, infor­ma­tion archi­tec­ture, inter­face design, copy­writ­ing, usabil­ity, acces­si­bil­ity, crawla­bil­ity and much more. Apply­ing UXM is not merely man­ag­ing, but exceed­ing user expec­ta­tions.

Martin Woods, SEO Consultant at

Over that past cou­ple of years, many spe­cial­ists in the field of online mar­ket­ing have gone on record tak­ing about the blur­ring lines of SEO, social media, and PR. While there is a lot of truth in this state­ment, espe­cially around the pre­vi­ously flawed silos between these chan­nels, they are now thank­fully com­ing down.

I see a very positive/influential future in 2015 for search engine opti­miza­tion, as an impor­tant part in gen­er­at­ing trusted traf­fic, which is still very impor­tant for most com­mer­cial web­sites. As Andrew Isidoro reit­er­ates, organic search is an essen­tial part of the pur­chase fun­nel, and this isn’t likely to change.

I think many peo­ple for­get the spe­cial­ist dis­ci­plines within the broad field of SEO. Many still see SEO as sim­ply gen­er­at­ing “free” traf­fic, when in fact SEO isn’t just about gen­er­at­ing new traf­fic, but also main­tain­ing traf­fic, opti­miz­ing plat­forms, and con­tent.

The major­ity of com­pa­nies and brands we are work­ing with have been using SEO com­pa­nies for many years, but with­out know­ing what they are get­ting for their monthly retainer fee. This has been espe­cially con­tro­ver­sial with spam algo­rithms like Pen­guin, (which fights link spam) bring­ing to light the meth­ods used by SEO agen­cies to increase rank­ing, which have dis­as­trous con­se­quences – Google penalties.

We are still see­ing many big brands approach us with issues relat­ing to sup­plier SEO agen­cies building/buying links which are in clear breach of the Google Web­mas­ter Guide­li­nes. If you are in doubt what manip­u­la­tive links are, here’s a guide. 2015 will be the year SEO agen­cies are required to be more open and trans­par­ent about the meth­ods which are used to increase rank­ings and traf­fic from organic search.

For more insights on SEO in 2015, see “Defin­ing SEO For 2015” by Andrew Gird­wood.

OK, your turn. What do you pre­dict will be the top SEO trends in 2015? Share your thoughts in the com­ments.

Entity Banner Momentology

Danny Goodwin

Written by Danny Goodwin

Managing Editor, Momentology

Danny Goodwin is the former Managing Editor of Momentology. Previously, he was the editor of Search Engine Watch, where he was in charge of editing, content strategy, and writing about search industry news.

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5 Comments on "SEO Trends 2015: 45 Experts On The Future Of Search"

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Milosz Wozniak
Milosz Wozniak
1 year 10 months ago

Great arti­cle, thanks Danny.
I would like to add that prob­a­bly first men­tion of User Expe­ri­ence Mar­ket­ing (UXM) was in… 2009 by Mary Shaw :)

Victorino Abrugar
Victorino Abrugar
1 year 10 months ago

Hi Danny! First of all, thank you for com­pil­ing this golden pieces of infor­ma­tion. In my own vision, I see a more holis­tic SEO approach in 2015. I see SEO to evolve and go along in har­mony with other online mar­ket­ing strate­gies, like social media, con­tent and rela­tion­ship mar­ket­ing.

1 year 10 months ago

Mobile? Really? 2014 has been the year of the mobile already. Google say­ing that they will pro­mote mobile con­tent is not some­thing new.
Face­book will do the same for sure, and then we will really change…
Mobile UX cre­ates a new land­scape. If we read and inter­act with the sites with the mobile, we will cre­ate dif­fer­ent sig­nals (More likes, shares, tweets) rather than links and, the con­tent rel­e­vance is going to be more time sen­si­tive.
I do believe that seman­tic search has a huge role on 2015 but struc­ture data will help us to work with an scal­able approach.

M Farhan
M Farhan
1 year 10 months ago

I think it will be local­iza­tion that will plays it’s part 2015.

Justin N
Justin N
1 year 10 months ago

Great arti­cle, and you can defi­antly see a trend as you read;
1. Mak­ing sure your site in mobile friendly, makes since google is look­ing for this now, espe­cially now that they are cre­at­ing their own smart phone.

2. UX (user expe­ri­ence) I see this one being a must, I have worked with com­pa­nies which has had 0 UX, and their sites were very con­fus­ing, one in par­tic­u­lar had a 80% bounce rate.

What I love about SEO is it’s a con­stant bat­tle, there is never a dull day.
Great read thank you



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