1. User Intent > Keywords = The New Formula!
Gone are the days when a focus on keywords meant successful optimization. In fact, the once impactful strategy of keywords has been on a downward spiral for quite some time. The problem with keywords, is that they simply do not provide optimal results. Well, that is unless they tell you about user intent. Let’s be honest, knowledge of what your visitors intend to search for is what anyone should be utilizing in their optimization. Your strategies should not be stagnant, but instead changing to suit the intent of those who land on your page. Whether that intent is general research or purchasing a service, delivering what users want is so much more important than a focus on keywords.
2. Focus on User Experience!
Does your website have a nasty bounce rate to go along with it? This is most likely because the users landing on your page are either confused, or simply find your page to be irrelevant. To make matters worse, while a user may hit the back button and forget about your page, Google will not. Help secure your rankings in the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) by making sure your page is easy to navigate, information is easily accessible, and your users have the best possible experience when they find you!
3. Increase Your Authority!
Contrary to what some may believe, Google is definitely tracking your site authority. One way to measure this is with the content you publish. Page and domain authority can be attributed to amount of relevant content that is published and visitors that are attracted by it. By focusing on these, you can increase your chances of raising authority and increasing your visibility for potential customers in the SERP.
Let’s not forget the importance of external authority signals. Be sure that any content posted outside of your domain is on respected sites. Authority may also be increased by taking part in high-profile webinars.
4. Social, Local, and Mobile Importance!
These three areas play an integral part of your strategy for 2016. Make a habit of being active across your social media platforms. These signals indicate that you are authoritative and trustworthy, providing an extra visibility boost. Are you aware that Google now indexes tweets? Consider whether social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram should be included in your plan for 2016.
Remember the 7-pack? Well, it is now a simple 3-pack. It is crucial to increase Local SEO optimization now that Google is only showing 3 results in its answer box. In fact, many Google updates have been rolling out since the New Year, including major changes to the appearance of Google Plus and Google My Business profiles. Keep a watchful eye on your listings and make sure they are always displayed correctly.
Mobilegeddon is real folks, and it is already amongst us! The much talked about mobile changes hit earlier in the year, dealing a critical blow to the search rankings of sites that were not mobile friendly. With the increase of mobile web use, these updates are not going anywhere. When searching on a mobile device, websites that are mobile-friendly are now labeled as such. Why would a mobile user choose one that is not? These users are notorious for making quick purchase decisions, so it would be unwise to ignore this metric. According to Search Engine Watch, Google has practically abandoned desktop SEO while advising visitors to also do the same.
5. Some Things Never Change!
Google always has, and probably always will, update its algorithm to ensure that searchers are finding the best and most relevant content available. If your content is horrible, chances are that it will go unseen. Always focus on constructing the best quality possible so that you can actually get it seen.
One of Google’s newer changes to its search functionality is the provision of “rich answers”. When typing a question into the search box, answers will actually appear in a box at the top of the page. By getting your content to appear in this space, you will increase traffic to your page.
Many SEO professionals have attempted to defy Google best practices in the past. In the long run, they have all simply wasted their time. Optimizing for search engines successfully in 2016 can only be achieved by working hard to deliver quality content, a valuable online user experience, and earning authority the right way.