SEO Tips for 2016
February 25, 2016 Latest News
Do’s and Don’ts in SEO are changing almost frantically in nowadays. Rumor has it that Google is changing its search algorithm like 500 times a year. Yes you read that right, that’s like one or two changes every single day.
Granted, the impact of most of these adjustments will hardly be noticed. What is much more important is the general trend Google is following. The content creators tend to have less and less direct control over how their posts and pages are showing up in search results. Search engines are much smarter nowadays than they used to be. The days of stuffing your website with keywords are long gone. And this is actually quite a good thing. It lets content creators focus on what is really important: nicely presenting great content to your readers. The focus nowadays should be much more on the visitors and their experience rather than some specific SEO technique.
Following this general rule of thumb we can derive useful tips and tricks that are aligned with todays core focus points of modern search engines.
1. Intention is key
Having specific keywords are no longer required to show up in relevant search results. Back in the days it was just all about getting the click to land on your website. But today search engines are actually analyzing how people interact with your website. A typical example here is when a user clicks your link and then quickly leaves the page again. Search engines interpret this event as the visitor not finding the relevant information. Or even worse finding something totally unexpected and unrelated to the search query used. This will raise your so called bounce rate. A high bounce rate in turn will penalize your site in search results. So it’s all not so much about getting the first click but about the post-click activity. If you get the click you also have to satisfy the user intent.
2. Keywords are soon to be on the scrap heap
Putting keywords into headlines or articles is getting less important. Google is no longer dependent on exact keywords to figure out the purpose of a website. Your entire site is crawled and then search engine algorithms will interpret the meaning on their own. It used to be a gain to use the keyword “best cars” three or four times if you wanted to wanted to rank for that term. This is no longer the case. Of course it’s still useful to mention the term “best cars” in your article but the semantic meaning is now much more important than just the quantity of keywords. You can now actually focus on writing great content instead of amassing a bunch of keywords no one wants to read.
And as the search engines get smarter, they start to consider related words they would expect to be in the article. This will raise the signal that the article is an authoritative one on the topic. For example if you’re writing an article about ice hockey, you might have the words ‘goal’, ‘power play’, ‘penalty killing’, ‘short-handed’ or ‘Stanley Cup’. If such terms appear in your article it will trigger the signal to the search engines that your article is pretty good.
About 75 percent of the search queries have a length of three to five words. So you should align your headlines accordingly. People searching for a one- or two-word query are quite likely not to find the results they want. To get best quality results that most likely satisfy them users need to be more specific. So they use up to five words in their queries to get the desired results. As a content creator with focus on optimization you should always keep that in mind.
3. User experience – vital
This is probably most important of all. We need to shift from an SEO perspective to a user experience focus. As such, original content is more important than ever before. The more unique and quality content you can produce the better off you’ll be. Be it an image, a video or an article you can compose that will justify someone wanting to read or share it.
And although the popular “top five” article list format is often clickable, it shouldn’t be used excessively. Visitors do like things that are easy to digest, but it doesn’t have much weight regarding search. Whatever comes after the number has to be useful and make sense.
It may be beneficial to create an editorial calendar to meet your visitor’s interests. Again, the content has to be original and targeted to your audience. If you are using paragraphs from another website or article it is suggested you give them full credit and an attribution. Then of course you should add a paragraph or two in your own words. This will add a journalistic tone to it and make it your own.
4. Size does actually matter
About two or three years ago a decently long article would count approximately 300 words. These days articles between 1,200 to 1,500 words are considered to be long. Such long articles will rank higher in SEO, especially for competitive terms. As such these articles will get more traffic. Yet long form content should be broken up with subheads, bullet points and images throughout the article to make it easy and pleasant for the reader to scan and digest it quickly. Google (and the other serach engines) wants to make sure the pages showing up in the top results are the ones that delight the visitors.
Longer articles perform better simply because there are more words and images to rank for. There’s a tendency that longer articles are shared on social media more often. Users are linking and quoting these articles more because there is more content to do so. Of course there are plenty of short articles that are doing pretty well. But on average, long articles tend to perform better than short ones.
5. Show love to mobile
The use of smartphones and the like has literally exploded in the past years. And to no surprise search engines have noted this trend, too. It’s no less than essential to optimize website and content for mobile devices. Your content should be well presented and easily readable on a phone without the need of pinching or zooming. For this purpose Google recommends to use a resonsive design on the website. To verify you are getting credit for having a mobile friendly page you should check it on Google’s official mobile friendly test.
6. Unique Images
Images are not as big a referral source in Google as they used to be. The same image can show up all over the web, but having unique quality content around these images will make the page stand out. Nevertheless, having unique images on your website is valuable. There’s nothing wrong with using a stock image to illustrate a point, but whenever you can come up with something custom or a unique pice of photography, that will pay off more eventually.
Your most important SEO activity for 2016 should be to honestly focus on your audience. In the past, marketers tried to promote what they wanted people to see. Today the tables have turned and it’s now all about delivering what people actually want to see. This in itself will give you an inherent SEO ranking boost.
The reason you’re doing optimization and show up in Google, Bing or Yahoo should not be to make money because of your ranking. The intrinsic reason to rank well in search engines is for our audience, the people we reach, to have a great experience. A high ranking alone will be useless if your visitors are unhappy and leaving quickly.