SEO best practices of 2015

Keywords were absolutely central to online success at the start of the decade.

Short news stories that were heavily optimised were key to achieving Google News indexation, allowing companies to appear highly in search pages for a comparatively modest budgetary spend.

But very often this tactic was to the detriment of the quality of the content being produced, as more of a focus was put on placing phrases in the right place, regardless of how it affected sentence structure.

Thankfully those days are gone and keyword-based search engine optimisation (SEO) is dying, as a succession of Google algorithm updates means that any content being produced now has to offer expertise, authority and trustworthiness.

But this doesn't mean there is no place for SEO, as a study by the National Retail Federation found that search marketing was the most effective measure for attracting new online customers last year.

So how should a digital marketer approach SEO in today's landscape?

Devise a value-added keyword strategy

While keywords are not as important to rankings as they used to be, they can still add value to any piece of content. The focus has to be on placement, however, as there is nothing wrong with having descriptive words of your company in the right high-priority areas - for example, metadata and headers. Using a range of long-tail keyword phrases is best too, preferably as sub-headings, as this keeps the content organic and allows the narrative to develop naturally.

Align goals

There is no point in producing great content if it is not going to be promoted in the right way and then measured to see if it lives up to expectations. This is why marketing departments have to align their goals and make sure every piece of content has a certain target persona in mind and is looking to achieve a particular objective. So follow that mantra of Create, Distribute and Maximise in order to underpin success.

Get creative

The easiest way to stand out is to come up with the most creative and engaging idea. As demonstrated by Visa's #GoForSix campaign - this saw communications based around the value of six-second videos, six-photo albums and six-word posts - creative content will always be able to engage your target audience. And when it comes to developing a linking profile, make sure every link has the capacity to build brand awareness and boost social mentions.

Have a mobile marketing strategy

A study by comScore shows that mobile has finally surpassed desktop in terms of the device time being spent on digital media. This means companies need a mobile marketing strategy, as brands will struggle to attract consumers if they do not have responsive and mobile-optimised sites. Smartphone users will simply not tolerate sites that do not fit the screen or take too long to load.

The focus of SEO has changed markedly in recent years, but the good news for marketers is that producing accurate, engaging and relevant content is still a surefire way of climbing the rankings and interacting with your target audience. So while you should not discount SEO completely, make sure you think about it in terms of the overall creativity of any content being produced.