Every year businesses and SEOs alike ask, “Is SEO Dead?” You should know that SEO is alive and well, and that 2016 is the year to get your SEO right.
Most successful online entrepreneurs understand that search engine optimization is a constant work in progress. Google changes its algorithm in minor ways about 500 times each year and in significant ways two to three times per year. Google isn’t the only offender. Searchers themselves change their search habits frequently as well. Approximately 16-20% of all search queries are brand new each month.
Understanding and implementing the following SEO strategies for 2016 will keep you ahead of the competition and ensure high rankings.
Search Goes Mobile in 2016
2015 was the year that mobile usage surpassed desktop. Which means that SEOs must now adapt their strategy to cater to mobile traffic now more than ever.
In fall of 2015, mobile optimization company Moovweb tracked 1,000 keywords in several industries. They found that the top result was a mobile-friendly site 83 percent of the time. Eighty-one percent of the time the top three results were mobile-friendly websites. Page one results were mobile friendly websites 77 percent of the time.
To ensure that your website is optimized for mobile, when upgrading or adding to a website, business owners must now prioritize how it renders on a smart phone. User experience is key. Get a mobile website if you don’t already have one. Google prefers a responsive design. Beyond the mobile website itself, it’s important to ensure that your website loads fast on mobile and your content is optimized for mobile. In addition, website owners can make it easy for users to access links while on the go when they:
- use large buttons and text,
- keep form fields simple and short
- design coupons for action on mobile
- implement seamless integration between mobile social and local.
With Mobile Search Comes The Spoken Query
Students have been turning to Siri as a homework shortcut since 2011. The rest of us took a little longer to believe that Siri could really get us to the right destination or information just from a verbal command. The time is here however and now most Americans ask Siri, Google Now and Cortana all sorts of things like, “Where is the nearest Japanese restaurant?” “How far am I from Toledo Ohio” and “Who’s the best marriage counselor around Los Angeles.”
When considering the difference between the written or textual query and the spoken or verbal query, think about how you search something on desktop versus your phone.
Desktop Smartphone via Siri, Cortana or Google Now
Japanese Restaurants, Hoboken “Where is the nearest Japanese restaurant?”
Toledo to Cincinnati, Distance “How far am I form Toledo Ohio”
Marriage counselor, Los Angeles “Who are the top marriage counselors around Los Angeles?”
These differences bring in a whole new list of target keywords. To make sure they get it right, Google is launching voice recognition search features on Google apps. Google has also started indexing app content. If you have an app for your business, make sure it’s optimized for mobile search rather than just standard search.
To leverage mobile search effectively, understand that the spoken query contains more errors and colloquialisms. People speak quickly and with terms Google may not have indexed as yet. It’s key to find a way to optimize your content for spoken queries and not just short keyword queries.
Google’s Ever More Sophisticated Algorithm Will Determine User Intent
As Google gets smarter in ascertaining what users want contextually, SEOs will have to become more creative in determining users’ ultimate goals by analyzing queries and previous behavior. For instance “Find the best tires” could indicate that the searcher is early in the buying process and trying to determine the highest quality tires. On the other hand, it could also mean that the searcher is getting a car towed in the moment and needs the address to the closest tire store. Search engines examine current user location, user search history and other factors to determine whether the user’s intent is to buy, gather information, or be entertained.
The savvy search engine optimization specialist will optimize your web pages and blog posts for the user intent most likely to bring your business sales and other conversions.
Robust, Descriptive Content Covering one Topic in Depth Will Win Higher Rankings than Superficial Short, Keyword-focused Pages
Search engines have been telling us for years that it aims to deliver the best, most robust answer for each search query. In the early days of search engine optimization, search engine specialists hired low-cost, off-shore writers to spin 300 to 500 words around a specific, often long-tail, keyword. This content tended to be rife with grammatical errors and even non-sensical. After targeting thin content in their Hummingbird update, Google seemed to favor the 500-word blog post around a long-tail keyword like “Houston family therapy for stepfamilies” rather than just “Houston family therapy.”
Recent research suggest that in 2016 complete, in-depth web pages and blog posts topping 1,000 and even 2,000 keywords will win search engine love. This means that, instead of focusing on the quantity of content you put out, focus on putting out fewer pieces of content with higher quality that is more in-depth.
Webmasters Will Recover Quickly from Google Penalties . . . Hurray!
In 2014 and 2015, websites using spammy backlinks saw a drop in rankings with Google’s Penguin update. Recovery was time-consuming and difficult. This summer, however, Google announced it would give webmasters and business owners a break by processing backlink removals and links disavowed in real time, rather than the weeks and months it took before. This means that if you got a penalty for bad links and you removed it or disavowed those links, the Penguin Algorithm will update it in real time.
Serve Users First
SEO changes rapidly and often drastically. To maintain or achieve high search engine ranking, you need to stay abreast of the changes in user behavior and search engine algorithms. Most of all, keep in mind that the search engines want websites to serve users first. To do that, you must meet the consumer where they are (mobile) AND provide complete, honest and helpful answers to queries. Sign up for Captivate Designs newsletter here to make the tweaks you need for digital marketing success.