The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) world continues to evolve at break-neck speed. Constant change is the only constant, as even the machine learning that governs the algorithms is in constant flux. The year 2016 will be no different, and here are the items to have on your radar.
Mobile is seen as last year’s concern in many ways but there is much to do beyond Google’s mobile friendly tool: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
Speed is everything, and takes on extra importance for mobile. Marketers must make sure they pass Google’s speed test: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Just because Google doesn’t have a factor in it’s own public test, doesn’t mean Google doesn’t notice. Internal tests, and the engagement metrics from actual users are influenced by speed, so it’s increasingly vital. So take a good look at speed suggestions from 3rd party sources: https://gtmetrix.com/
Searchmetrics recently released their first-ever Mobile Ranking Factors report, and found the 10 highest-ranking pages take an average of 1.10 seconds to load!
2. Rich Snippets / Schema
Seen review stars in Google’s results before? These are likely from “schema” code elements on the web page itself. Code elements such as Rich Snippets have been shown to boost a site’s click-through-rate in organic results, increase visibility, increase sharing – but they also help communicate with Googlebot and other search engine crawlers. A variety of Rich Snippets should be employed on your site this year: Schema elements have been shown to increase rankings 4 places, and click-through rates 30% in various studies.
Different schema rich snippet examples can be found at http://schema.org, which is a collaboration between the major search engines. Some types include products, ratings, events, recipes, locations, people, etc.
Social media networks have come up with their ideas for Rich snippets as well:
- Facebook open graph tags
- LinkedIn cards
- Twitter cards
- Pinterest pincards
Consider how a Tweet of a site using Twitter cards looks better than the standard Tweet: It shows a larger image on Twitter, which provides a much richer experience for viewers of that Tweet. And there are many different types of Twitter cards too: Galleries, large images, video players, etc.
As Google tries to answer many queries now right in it’s search engine results, you may need to provide “Rich Answers” to Google. This can mean extra brand visibility, but less traffic to your site. Still, if Google is featuring a brand at the top of their results, you’ll want it to be yours!
3. Distribute Your Content for Link Authority
Content marketing is the new link building. And many brands are creating content, but not marketing it. Creating relevant content for your prospects is authentic marketing. With the right approach, that content is a valuable asset and can also boost rankings!
When done correctly, content marketing brings:
- social sharing
- brand visibility
- inbound links (with authority)
- referral traffic
Search Engine Optimization will always be ever-changing: Technology is moving at breakneck speeds and search engines have ever-changing criteria and expectations. Having these six items on your radar will help carry you nicely into the New Year, and then some. The year 2016 may be completely different, but these are good solid investments of time and money.
4. Be Ready for More Penalties
Google’s Panda penalties are assessed against sites that do not have their house in order, and trust us that sites can go into disarray so very easily! Broken links, missing pages not redirecting, thin pages, duplicate content are all challenges websites deal with.
But Google’s Phantom Updates and Penguin Penalties have also had a tremendous impact of website visibility. Be aware, and be ready!
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