What do Ebola, Conchita Wurst and Frozen have in common?

 A world in Search, that’s what. SEO trends 2015

No one can guarantee what SEO trends 2015 will bring us, but many a Search professional will have a good go. SEO professionals and Content Strategists alike take time to listen to what’s trending, as well as keeping ears to the ground for imminent Google updates.

Last year we saw tragedy, mystery, unity and entertainment all hit Google as the biggest trending searches of 2014. Here’s a round-up of Search in 2014:

Frozen

The most popular children’s film this year was Frozen, which smashed the box office as the highest-grossing animated movie of all time. It was also the most searched movie in 2014. After Travolta’s slip-up at the Oscars ceremony (he pronounced star Idina Menzel’s name “Adele Dazeem”), the world was quick to laugh it off as the film won three Oscars, and “travoltify your name” trended.

MH370

In March, the world encountered the terrible mystery of disappearing Malaysian plane flight MH370. When contact was lost on the eight of March at 2:15 MYT time, the world couldn’t believe that in the modern age of all-pervasive technology, a plane could simply disappear, with its 239 passengers. Over two million searches were made for “mh370”, as the world searched for answers. Our searches show we didn’t want to give up – fourteen times more people searched for “mh370 found” than did “mh370 lost”. Is this the first time Google couldn’t help us?

Conchita Wurst

The usual news features of violence, catastrophe and segregation were briefly interrupted in May, as a woman with a beard belted out a Bond-style classic. Conchita Wurst outperformed her idols Beyoncé and Lady Gaga just after Eurovision 2014 on the 10th, at least in terms of Google search. This was more than a combination of catchy song, able singer and great beard. The world united for a deeper message; marginalisation is out. Sexuality, gender, colour, race, religion, wearing false eyelashes with your beard: no part of your identity, chosen or not, should be allowed to stop you in your tracks.

Ebola

In October, searches for “ebola” were 76 times higher than in March, as the virus made its way out of Africa. From the first outbreak in Guinea, ebola spread to other shores. Worldwide hysteria prevailed. Ebola never made it to Japan, whose intense fear of the virus meant that three of the top ten searches for “ebola” were in Japanese. Hazardous materials suits, used as whole-body protection by healthcare workers encountering the virus, was Googled eighteen times more than usual in 2014.

Disturbing Dogs

Our favourite video of 2014? One of a seemingly harmless dachshund, who dresses up to become everybody’s worst nightmare:

 

But what can we expect from Search in 2015?

The SEO industry is quick to leap forward, providing lists upon lists of predictions for 2015. The truth is, most of them are very…well…predictable. The summary is, Google wants you to provide the best experience you can for the end user. The dark arts of “black hat” SEO have died a slow death.

Here are a Content Strategist’s predictable predictions for SEO in 2015:

  1. Personalisation

The millennial generation are wolves, not sheep. They also appreciate humour, silliness and vulnerability – witness O2’s inspired customer service on twitter.

Mass distribution makes you the annoying fly trapped in the fluorescent office light – you’re there, annoying me, but you certainly don’t deserve my attention.

Building contacts and loyalties within your niche(s) gives you an engaged audience of potential customers who are more likely to give you better time onsite and lower bounce rates. Google’s emphasis on local search underlines this, and with so many tools allowing you to carefully select your audience, there’s no excuse for being that fly.

  1. Content versus technical

The two elements of your SEO campaign will become increasingly distinct, with separate goals – technical concentrating on updating and maintenance, whilst the content side will drive search engine rankings as Google gets cleverer at judging content and looking at your site’s impact on the user.

The content side of SEO will edge ever nearer to PR, creating a blurring of the two industries. Both industries will have to up their game.

  1. Print is in

Whilst we have long looked to blog features for link-building SEO, Matt Cutts has made it clear that guest blogging purely for SEO is dying. Whilst content appreciated by your intended audience will always be good for SEO, Content Strategists will look to print as well as online journalists (they thought their industry was over!) to provide great content to the right audience.

Print won’t give you any “link juice”, but it could up your authority within your industry and drive the right people to you. A link from a newspaper could channel both readership and link authority towards your site. Watch competitors turn to PPC as vying for publication becomes harder, leaving room for some of the best content to get in front of big audience.

  1. Social is key

Great content is only going to drive the audience that have access to it. Spreading your articles across a growing social media audience gets the right eyes on page – now you need to keep them there with valuable content. Companies will see more value in social media in 2015, as a way to spread brand awareness but increasingly as a tool to work in partnership with content-based SEO efforts.

Budgets will shift towards creativity through content strategies and social media. Some campaigns will return massive ROI, and some won’t – I predict 2015 will be the year for testing out enterprising content as the future for content-based SEO.

  1. Video

    In 2015, video will play an ever bigger role in content strategies as sites are judged more and more on user engagement and Google demands diversity and richness in your content.

    Overall, SEO is set to get harder in 2015. We’ll most likely be pelted by some serious animals (we’ve had the continents of the Antarctic and Asia represented by Penguin and Panda, and the little Hummingbirds and Pigeons repping for the US/Canada and Europe – next up, a Kangaroo for our Australasian colleagues?), shaking up Google’s algorithms once again, making optimisation still tougher. Better content, better products and better sites will be the only way to top Google in 2015.