It’s September 2016 as I update this old SEO article, just 3 more months before 2017. Simple concept, let’s speculate where SEO will be in 2017?
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure where Google will go SEO wise in 2017. Obviously there will be more of the same improved. So BrainRank/Hummingbird will get better, they’ll probably take more mobile responsive design into account. Since I first wrote this the Google PageSpeed Insights Tools test has got harsher, really hard to stay in the green. I even got some warnings about AdSense ads being too big on smaller device sizes and had to modify Stallion Responsive mobile CSS rules to load smaller ads on smaller devices.
I look forward to Google SEO 2017.
Google SEO 2016
One of the big things with Google SEO this year is it’s new BrainRank algorythm, announced in late 2015 by Google’s Greg Corrado. BrainRank is now a major part of the Google algorythm.
“RankBrain is one of the hundreds of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results appear on a Google search page and where they are ranked”. “In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query” : Greg Corrado.
BrainRank is an extension of HummindBird, it’s an advanced machine learning AI (not a true AI). Basically Google is getting better at understanding what a searcher is looking for. Going beyond the mere keywords, but their meaning. In simple terms if you search for phrases, Google is much better at knowing what you want.
If someone asked you “Where Can I Buy a Used German Car?” you wouldn’t show them webpages about random Cars or Cans or Germans, you might search for auctions that sell VolksWagon (VW is a German car brand) and suggest a VW car. Google’s BrainRank isn’t this good (not true AI), but it might suggest auction sites that do sell German cars even though you didn’t ask for an auction website (I didn’t check the SERP).
Google SEO 2015 History
Before we can speculate about 2015 SEO, let’s take a look at the history of SEO up to 2015.
When I first started to learn about search engine optimization in the early years of the new millennium, Google optimization was DUMB, I mean really, really simple in the head, village idiot stupid :-)
A decade plus later, Google in 2014 is still a bit on the dumb side, but they’ve added some valuable coping mechanisms for their simplicity.
Before I got into search engine optimization, SEO in the 90s was keyword stuff your title tag and meta keywords tag. The time of Disney Porn was born, porn sites would add the most high traffic keywords to their meta keywords tag for high traffic and for a time it worked in the popular search engines of the day.
Now 2014 Google ignores the keywords meta tag completely and we can assume that won’t change for search engine optimization 2015.
You could even go as far as SEO SPAM just one short phrase per webpage, if you wanted a SERP like SEO 2015 you would create a single webpage targeting that one phrase, fill the content with that exact phrase “SEO 2015” (no need for any synonyms**) and create as many backlinks with anchor text “SEO 2015” as you could beg, steal and borrow.
I was really good at this type of SEO, it was really easy to obtain SERPs.
**Google didn’t consider synonyms like SEO and Search Engine Optimization as related, just two separate SERPs, in 2014 synonyms are important to SEO, I expect in 2015 synonyms will be equally or more important, so for this article I ideally should mention search engine optimization 2015 :-)
The screenshot below shows synonyms in action. A Google search for “What is Search Engine Optimization” finds pages optimized for “What is SEO?”.
Google knows two users searching for “What is Search Engine Optimization” and “What is SEO” are looking for the same content.
Google Search Engine Optimization Difficulty
By 2010 Google SEO had really turned a corner, Google was making it harder and harder to compete for even semi-competitive SERPs. PageRank and the anchor text of links though still very important, because Google was adding more and more SEO metrics (in 2014 Google says they use over 200 ranking factors) the value of any one SEO metric is reduced.
To understand this, let’s say in 2000 Google had 50 ranking factors, if in 2010 it was 100 SEO metrics you can see the 50 factors used in 2000 can’t all have the same SEO value as before (most will pass less SEO value). Google uses over 200 metrics today, for 2015 it’s likely to increase further with Google taking pagespeed factors and usability into account, a new SEO metric was announced just last month an https/SSL update giving a small boost to secure websites: this is a new Google usability metric.
Because Google has added a new ranking factor the current factors must as a whole must have less SEO value. If yesterday there were 200 factors and today it’s 201, the new factors value must be taken from the other 200 factors.
What to take away from this is as Google adds new SEO metrics the old ones that aren’t dropped (for example meta keywords are no longer a Google ranking factor) will most likely have less of an impact.
Google recently stopped showing Google+ author profile images next to SERPs, screenshot below shows a Google search from early 2014, the same search no longer shows my image.
I don’t know if in early 2014 Google gave a ranking boost for associating articles to a Google+ author (we associated sites with Google+ for the image, hoping for a higher click through rate from Google). I also don’t know if in late 2014 Google removed a ranking boost for Google+ author association. Google makes regular algorithm changes, it will add new factors, remove old factors and change the value of ranking factors over the medium to long term.
This does NOT mean what was important 10 years ago (PageRank, anchor text, title tags etc…) are no longer relevant at all, just means you still have to work on PageRank, anchor text, title tags etc… but the SEO impact of those older ranking factors won’t have the same impact as they had in previous years.
Used to be possible to rank high in Google just by adding loads of high PR backlinks from any site with the links anchor text matching the SERP you wanted: basically 10 years ago if I wanted this page to rank high for a SERP like “SEO 2014”, it could be achieved with three main SEO factors, title tag = “SEO 2014”, use “SEO 2014” a lot on the body text, add LOTS of backlinks with anchor text “SEO 2014”, it was the backlinks with exact match anchor text which had the greatest SEO impact.
This concept still works, but you have to be far more subtle, now you want the anchor text of the backlinks to be varied, you have to avoid backlinks from any source, think twice about sitewide backlinks and be more careful on over optimizing (keyword stuffing) the body text. Even then because there’s so many more SEO factors, for competitive SERPs the above isn’t enough, the above only covers a handful of the 200+ SEO factors.
I’m afraid in 2014 it means more work for webmasters and that’s likely to increase further in 2015 with the new Google ranking factors coming online.
2015 SEO : Performance and Usability
In 2014 we have seen Google via their Google PageSpeed Insights Tool indicate website usability and performance will be important in 2015.
When talking about Google SEO 2015 it’s speculation, we won’t know for sure until Google rolls out new algorithm updates and SEO experts like yours truly test their impact. This is NOT a Google released an algorithm update called Google Pigeon and within days we (SEO experts) know it’s full impact, it takes months of analysis and SEO testing to gain insights into what Google has done and by that time Google has released the Google Duck-Billed Platypus update (now that would be a cool name for a Google algorithm :-)) making it even harder to determine what a previous change resulted in.
Basically what Google changes in 2015 will probably be known for the most part in 2016 by which time it will have changed again!
Run your site through the Google PageSpeed Insights Tool
Are your results all in the green like my site? The above results are for my site.
The Future of SEO 2015
If I’m right that Google will be shifting more ranking value to performance SEO and usability in 2015 try to fix your website Google PageSpeed Insights issues now. You won’t be able to fix them all, but there’s a lot that can be improved on almost any website from dumping features that are heavy on resources to simply optimizing the size of images. Your goal should be aiming for green, if you check other websites in your niche right now you will find most are in the amber or red, get your website in the green and when (if: I could be wrong, I don’t know the future) Google takes these performance and usability more into account in 2015 you will be ahead of your competition on these newer SEO factors.
My website runs on the WordPress SEO Package Stallion Responsive (I’m the developer), which with the addition of a couple of WordPress plugins I’m able to push my Google PageSpeed Insights results into the green for mobile usability, mobile pagespeed and desktop pagespeed.
I’m ready for Google 2015, are you?