Originally published at: http://www.sitepoint.com/5-seo-trends-you-need-to-consider-for-2015/
I hope you’re not buying into the latest hype that “Search Engine Optimization is dead,” and “social is the new search.” SEO is far from dead. In reality, SEO is evolving into an amalgamation of tried-and-true SEO techniques, content marketing, and social media optimization. It’s grown more complex, but no less valuable. So with all that in mind, here are five SEO trends you need to plan for in 2015.
1. Semantic Search
In September 2013, Google released its “Hummingbird” update. Unlike the previous Panda and Penguin updates, Hummingbird was a complete overhaul of the algorithm, based on semantic search.
Semantics is a sub-discipline of linguistics that focuses on the study of meaning. Semantic search attempts to understand the meaning of the query and searcher’s intent. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land explains it like this:
Hummingbird is paying more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole query—the whole sentence or conversation or meaning—is taken into account, rather than particular words. The goal is that pages matching the meaning do better, rather than pages matching just a few [key]words.
Growth of Conversational Queries
Over the past decade-and-a-half, Google has trained us to type in keywords that describe what we’re looking for. But now search is becoming conversational. Google Now and Siri are teaching us to ask questions. If I type, “where is the nearest Apple store” into the search bar, Google understands “where” as the location and “nearest” to mean in relation to where I am at that moment. But it also realizes I’m not looking for a store where I can buy fruit.
When I ask Siri the same question, she assumes I may be on the move and offers to call or give me directions.
Google Trends showing increase in conversational queries
In 2015, targeting “conversational queries” to capture users’ actual search intent will become crucial if you want to rank well. Your keyword research should identify both long-tail keywords and LSI keywords.
Long-tail keywords are longer, more specific phrases consumers are more likely to use when they’re further along in the buying cycle and closer to making a purchase.
The concept behind long-tail keywords is quality over quantity. I once had a client who sold gift baskets. Ranking well for that term would generate a lot of traffic, but she’d have to compete with some top brands to do so. Ranking for longer, more specific terms like “homemade chocolate chip cookie gift baskets” will be less competitive and generate a smaller amount of higher-quality leads.
LSI stands for “latent semantic indexing,” which is a fancy term for synonyms and plurals of your main keywords. So if I’m a dentist, I also want to use keywords like dental and dentistry.
Latent semantic indexing also tells Google how keywords are related to one another. So when it sees a webpage containing “apple,” along with keywords like “iPhone” or “Tim Cook,” it understands the page to be about Apple, not apples.