We know that links have had a lot of heat on them. They are a major factor for ranking in the Google search results. But many SEO experts are speculating on big changes for linking and SEO in 2015. In this article, 21 SEO experts weight in on linking and SEO. There are some interesting new ideas in the interviews. Make sure to read the responses and leave your own comment below.
21 Experts Give Critical Insight on Links for SEO in 2015
SEO will start to put the most importance on external link quality and to the most social shares and comments for general searches. Expect a change to be more focused to local companies that share great content and engage their visitors. (ex. search: Web developers = results to the most active quality posts that offer service to your area first then national.) There will be more focus on semantic searching also as web 3.0 expands and starts to personalize the web to the user.
Owner, One Stop Tek Shop, llc
In 2014, linking and link-building transitioned to focus less on quantity and more on quality, and I think that trend will become more prevalent in 2015. I foresee sponsored links becoming more popular, and digital marketing spending switching from primarily AdWords to high-quality sponsored links.
Associate Director, Marketing
Jackson White P.C.
In 2015, brand links will continue to be an important indicator of trust in the eyes of the search engines, since creating a brand that’s organically recognized as being an authority in a market is more difficult to game than a few exact match links on poor quality sites. There also appears to be a softening in the relative bias against exact match anchor text, but quality is still paramount and it’s something that I’d definitely be cautious with in a greater link building strategy.”*
SEO Manager, Bluehost.com
The quality, not quantity, of external links will become more important than ever in 2015. As archaic techniques such as keyword stuffing and black-hat link building becomes even more “punished” by Google, brands will need to take a qualitative, relationship-based approach to SEO strategy.
Elizabeth Christian Public Relations, Austin, TX
2015 will be the year of “natural” link building. Traditional link building strategies will now work against you. To maximize your links for SEO, focus on mixing your company name mention, url structure, and keywords to appear natural. If you are not doing this in 2015, your linking efforts will work against you.
Google will undoubtedly continue to penalize search engine optimization specialists who attempt to game search engine results with newer and better spam filters. We as an SEO community have relabeled link building as content marketing, a method of creating link-attracting content and mildly promoting the content to influencers who would be likely to promote the content to their own audiences.
PageRank, Google’s core ranking system, cannot exist without links, nor can Googlebot find or access content without “crawling” through links. With SEO baked into to most website platforms already, business owners in 2015 will likely shift their effort toward procuring Content Strategists who can help with the creation and promotion of useful, problem-solving, and media-rich content.
Google has patented a new search algorithm that will allow them to credit unlinked brand mentions. With that in mind, it’s likely that Google will begin to gain further knowledge and insights related to true authority. With this in mind, focus MORE on getting key mentions/features that boost your brand value and LESS on the actual link.
Worrying LESS about Google will HELP you when it comes to earning truly valuable, authoritative links. Follow the golden rule of link building and ask yourself “would I want this link if Google did not exist.” Finding link opportunities that have value OTHER than the link itself is a great sign you are doing the right things. It also means that link could produce quality, relevant web traffic to your site on it’s own!
Search Marketing Specialist, Web Success Agency
Linking strategies will continue to evolve in 2015 with Google in a few ways:
I think a variety of unique widgets, new infographics, obscure top lists (listacles), and great content pieces will continue to help garner social signals as they are shared throughout the web. Google has already leveraged the backdoor database access they have with a multitude of relationships with social networking sites and I think we’ll continue to see that grow as they attempt to locate better signals to determine authoritativeness and relevance of sites. People say that links are no longer valuable, however they forget that whether it’s content marketing, social media, or otherwise, there’s still a link back to the website.
2014 brought the end of the ‘easy link’. Paid networks and guest blogging platforms were run through the PR grinder when Google annulled their value. So what about the future? For one thing, good links are just as important as ever, but they will come with increased costs related to productivity and creativity. This will require ‘traditional’ link budgets to move into ‘content marketing’ projects. We are seeing that at Fuze with SEO budget allocations shifting to fund more strategic link building efforts. The future for us will be focused on content creation and outreach, guest posting and infographic promotion.
Jon Clark – Founder & CEO
Fuze SEO, Inc.
Google is going to continue to get more sophisticated in battling spam in 2015. PBN’s (Private Blog Networks) are all the rage right now but 90% of them have a very predictable pattern that can easily be detected. Any backlink scheme is vulnerable to being discovered and penalized. While I may not advocate 100% white hat, it’s obvious that you do have to build at least some white hat links to sustain yourself. Companies are going to have to figure out white hat link building eventually. They can’t keep bouncing around from one black hat tactic to another.
Penguin 3 is coming out. What is it going to target this year? I would imagine it targets PBN’s (Private Blog Networks). My prediction is that many of the poorly set up PBN’s will be hit but the ones who have stayed ahead of the curve will survive. The PBN’s that have taken every available opportunity to diminish footprints will be rewarded for their vigilance as their counterparts watch their networks crash and burn.
The thing to remember about SEO and linking is that Google will never tell us exactly what their formula is. We also usually don’t know when they are happening until they do. What we do know is that Google will continue to make SEO less about “tricks” and more about actually helping people find what they are searching for.
Patents applied for indicate that Google is looking at giving weight to “implied links”. This means mentions of brand names and website owners, without a live link. If a site has loads of live links but no implied links, then this could potentially be a signal that links have been manipulated. A high quality site is likely to have a mixture of the two. Therefore SEO’s could soon be looking at getting positive mentions on websites, without a link in order to balance this out.
SEO and linking in 2015 is going to get more and more focused around branding and trust. With so much scrutiny on anchor text and relevant links I think we’re going to see more focus on sites being transparent with their online promotion and providing a better user experience. Searches will get more local and targeted to the area users are at. In addition I think we’ll see review sites play a bigger factor. Schema implementation will be an even more important factor than it is now.
Joshua Titsworth, Digital Marketing Specialist, Vizion Interactive
Link building has changed a lot over the last 2 years and will continue to change. The biggest things in 2015 that we are going to be paying attention closely to are:
-Making anchor text look natural
-Not using press releases to build useless links
-A strong social media presence to help share content
-Entertaining content to help generate low bounce rates
-Brand mentions will continue to increase importance
-Content is still and will always be KING so make your content awesome
Stephanie Biscow, Vp of Digital Media at DCW Media.
The fundamentals of link building (creating great content & doing outreach) will not change that much in 2015. However, the bar for quality content will be much higher than it has been in the past.
Every day there is more content created than can be consumed in a year, and the pace of content creation is only accelerating. In order to be heard over the noise and attract links, SEOs will need to raise the quality of their content to the next level.
Some ways that sites can distinguish themselves is by creating comprehensive content around their topic, using stunning visuals, creating quality videos, and by hiring well known authors that already have an audience. Doing so will help your content attract attention and links in 2015 and beyond.
Brand mentions will contribute highly to search engine ranking in 2015 as Google now measures non-linking citations as “implied links” or “brand mentions”. Google makes a connection when someone types in a brand name then clicks on a site that contains that name (even if it isn’t a hyperlink). The search engine then stores that info and uses it in the context of unlinked mentions around the web in order to help weight rankings of particular sites.
Marketing Communications Coordinator
In the next year ‘Topical Relevancy’ will become an important aspect of link building and SEO. The mere acquisition of links that are not relevant to your market niche will have diminished effect on the value of the link as it pertains to both Trust and Citation authority. Google specifically will be evaluating a link as it pertains to co-occurrence and co-citation which means that they will be examining the relationship between the words surrounding the link and also the relationship with other links on the page to determine whether the link is topically relevant to your specific url. This is a big change in 2015 that will demand more scrutiny of what constitutes a high quality link when link building.
Sandra Powers, Internet Marketing Manager, LawyerReviews.com
I think over time, links will become less and less of a ranking factor in the Google algorithm for organic search, but I think in 2014 and even in 2015 they will still be a major ranking signal for the Google search results. I do however think in the next year we will finally anchor text lose its impact on search rankings. I know the Penguin update has had a huge impact on penalizing sites that use over optimized anchor text, but the fact of the matter is anchor text rich backlinks still have a huge impact on the search results in Google. As you can see in these recent tests done by Rand Fishkin of Moz, links with exact match anchor text are still considerably more powerful than non-anchor match links. I think Google will find a way to eventually de-value anchor text links.
Matthew Zajechowski is a link building specialist for Digital Third Coast.
SEO link building for the last year and half has mainly been based off of a 3 tier link building, where you build authoritative links at level one then have two levels of links, growing greater in number but less in quality pointing to the authoritative link, basically creating more link value to the page linking to your site, which will currently increase ranking. I see this as continuing to grow, however in the near future I believe google will crack down on this practice. I don’t see much of a long term future for link value greatly effecting SEO as more and more people exploit this trick.
2015 will see a continued growth in the importance of local results and evolution of search results displaying differently depending on the category of search, we already see this will local services, shopping etc, in 2015 I expect more areas of google search to include specialized search listings depending on category and segment. I also expect to see deeper integration of paid ads in search results.
Titan Alarm, Inc.
In 2015, the gap that’s been slowing growing between poor link builders and link acquisition artists will be blown wide open. When big algorithm updates rock the online world, new best practices seem to hit the mainstream business owner 1-2 years after the fact. That said, in 2015 I believe that awareness of what a bad link is and it’s consequences will be so widespread that clients/prospects will better understand what a good link is worth and much more willing to invest in what it takes to get them. This will cause the entire market of earning links to shift into hopefully a more pure form.
Founder – Heroic Search
Links are still, and will continue to be a major factor to help Google rank in 2015, but those links must be REAL. Real press, real social mentions and real reviews will still provide real increase in overall rank. While anchor text still plays a factor, the content surrounding these links helps Google identify where they should be ranking you.
The other area where links will continue to play a role in 2015 is through negative SEO attacks. The disavow tool will be moved to the top of most SEO’s toolboxes. Avoiding duplicate anchor text on non-branded terms will be important when trying to avoid any ranking penalties from the Google gods.