There are always winners and losers in SEO. Certain industries lend themselves towards white hat practices better than others, while certain features of SEO gain more traction and allow small businesses to outrank giant corporations.
So which industries benefited in 2014? Let’s explore…
Hard to Say
SEO is a funny thing. Anytime a company gets slammed by Google everybody hears about it, but unless an entire industry jumps up in rankings it goes relatively unnoticed.
Often, industries that get hammered can help to boost others who are competing for the same keywords. This helps to identity who has benefited from these changes and the reason behind the jumps in ranking.
Thanks to local listings and Google’s new way of displaying search results, many local businesses benefit from much better rankings thanks to display cards like this:
Google returns over a billion results for the phrase “Restaurants” but thanks to the ability to latch onto your location and determine the type of business you’re looking for it can pinpoint businesses that are in your vicinity.
Even with less popular searches like “Bike Shops”, you are returned both web and local listing results that give the local businesses a great chance against much larger companies.
This is great news for local businesses, as they now have a greater chance than ever before at bringing in relevant, local customers through Google. However, this does not mean that it is a negative thing for large businesses. If they have shops or service provides around the country then, by listing all their locations, big companies are also able to maximise their reach in this way.
eBay’s Slapped Hand
In 2014, eCommerce giant, eBay, was hit by a Google penalty which has a significant impact on many of the business’s target keywords. This saw a huge reduction in traffic that eBay believe cost them around 200 million.
Bad news for eBay, great news for other eCommerce sites.
This drop in rankings allowed a plethora of sites that were practicing good SEO to step into the giant’s shoes and really mop up the sales. It wasn’t just one or two websites that benefited from this, but a huge range of sites that were all targeting keywords that were previously dominated by eBay. Even after eBay managed to get back to its feet, these eCommerce sites still benefited from the boost in rankings that were achieved during the down period.
Traditionally, payday sites have not got on well with search engines. This used to be due to the black hat tactics that were used to launch their sites to the top result for certain keywords, but this practice has been stopped by large lenders looking to asset their position within the industry.
Despite this, payday companies have had notoriously poor rankings within Google. That is, until 2014 when the tides shifted and Google introduced the Payday Loan anti-spam update. This update was much more efficient at slamming the black hat sites, which in turn rewarded those who were following Google’s guidelines.
What to Expect in 2015
It is always important to learn from the mistakes of others and use the past to make informed decisions about the future. So what can we expect to happen now? Here is a brief summary of our educated guesses:
• Content more important than ever before – we say this every year and every year it’s right
• But don’t do content for contents sake, build a relationship with a strategy!
• Have a responsive site or GTFO
• Implied links (a.k.a. brand mentions) will become as powerful as links
• Continuing the brand mentions theme, expect social signals to gain significance
• For eCommerce, good online security could become a ranking factor
• Visual elements of a website will help to drive rankings in SERPs
• Much, much more local search
• The faster your website the better everything (yes, everything) is going to be
• Increased personalisation by Google means you need to do the same for your audience