Rand Fishkin, Cracking the SEO Code for 2015: Tactics to Love vs. Leave
What changed? What has made SEO so different in the last two or so years? The best practices have stayed relatively the same. You shouldn’t have bought spammy links in 2001, you shouldn’t have bought spammy links in 2014. You should have used relevant keywords in 2001, you should use relevant keywords in 2014.
So, why has SEO changed so much? Rand has a few reasons:
- Searchers and users are demanding more from content.
- There is a move from keyword matching to topic association.
- Domain-level keyword connections are on the rise. According to Rand, this is a new form of SEO that many of us are not optimizing for.
- Google’s crackdown on spam is basically a crackdown on ranking without a brand. The lesson is clear: Be a brand or get out of our results.
- Critical SEO data still flows for the 1% (big brands), but is unavailable to the 99%.
Now that we know what the issues are, what do we do to be successful and stay ahead?
Keyword Research and Targeting
We have our classic keyword process and according to Rand, we need to completely overhaul it. Instead of using keyword research tools, he proposes we should start with search. Search the web, news, images, YouTube and Buzzsumo to start building our lists. Then, collect the concepts, topics, popular content, etc., and aggregate it into a new keyword list.
Next, instead of grouping keywords by targeting and ranking ability, group keywords by the overlap in searcher intent and then break it into buckets. Rather than producing a list of pages to create based on keywords, produce a list of searcher intents with 1-5 keywords each and then create pages to target these intents and plan ongoing content efforts with more competitive keywords. Don’t try to cannibalize – if you have multiple pages already targeting the same keyword, consider consolidating those.
Essentially, you want to build up your site’s association with a topic or set of topics. For instance, when people think of homemade goods, they think of Etsy. You have to be “that” for your set of keywords.
Link Building Earning
“Link building is probably actually dead,” Rand said. “If there is a link you can go out and build, Google doesn’t want to count it.” Anchor text still works like a charm, according to Rand, but he is still working against it. He recommends instead to go build relationships. The goal isn’t links. The goal is to grow the quantity of interactions to the point where the relationship is real.
Additionally, brand mentions near keywords may have link-like effects. For instance, a search on “organizing your house checklist” pulled a result of Organizing Checklists from Martha Stewart’s website.
Content marketing may be creating false expectations. Instead of the content calendar telling us to publish every day and the push to create good, unique content (as in content that has good spelling and grammar and we deem “good enough”), Rand says we should be using the following criteria for content creation:
- One of a kind – content doesn’t appear anywhere else
- Relevant – search engines can interpret content as on the topic of the searcher’s intent
- Helpful – resolves searcher’s query in a useful and efficient manner
- Uniquely valuable – provides information that is unavailable or hard to get elsewhere (this one is hard)
- Great UX – easy to consume on any device
- Likely to spread – answer the question “who will help amplify this content and why?’
Choosing where to invest
Measurability is inversely correlated with opportunity. The more measurable a channel is (like AdWords), the lower the opportunity. The competition is high. Channels that are hard to measure, on the other hand, like digital video advertising and affiliate marketing, have tons of opportunity.
Bottom line, SEO is getting harder. But the higher barrier to entry means greater opportunity for those who succeed.