SEO in 2016: The things you need to know

Unlike five and more years ago, today the term SEO is frequently used among marketers and business owners alike. Google rankings are a huge factor when it comes to how businesses are discovered by their clients and consumers, and can be critical to the ultimate success of a company’s marketing strategy.

However, rankings can be difficult to control, with SEO strategies and tactics not moving as quickly as Google’s frequent algorithm updates. If you’re looking to re-evaluate your SEO strategy in 2016, here are the most important factors to keep in mind.

Mobile(geddon) cant be ignored

With Google announcing that more than half of all searches take place on mobile devices, and introducing its ‘Mobilegeddon’ update that favours (and ranks) websites optimised for mobile, a mobile-friendly website is now a necessity.

For businesses looking to rank higher on Google, a few key factors affect mobile SEO:

  • Responsive/mobile-friendly design: If a site doesn’t cater for smaller screens, it’s likely to rank lower than competitors that do, regardless of site structure and other factors.
  • File sizes and loading speeds: As users continue to access the web on mobile devices as opposed to PCs, longer wait times and large downloads can deter them from returning, and detract from the overall experience of your site.
  • Content structure and word count: As is often the case with mobile, people are accessing information on the go and looking for digestible content. Bullet points, clear headings and a clean layout all contribute to a positive user experience.

Tools like Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights are handy when trying to optimise your site for SEO in the mobile era.

Link building is a relic of the past...

If you haven’t heard the news yet, let us enlighten you: link building belongs in the days of pre-touchscreen phones and Windows XP. The concept of building links through volume is no longer just outdated – sites are heavily penalised for following this dated trend. If it hasn’t been implemented already, 2016 is the year to wipe link building from your SEO strategy forever.

...but the right links are still important

While backlinking to websites in droves is no longer accepted, links back to your website are still a significant factor in rankings, as long as they have value and are limited. Research-based articles, list articles, opinion journalism and long-form content are all great ways to accumulate quality links back to your website.

The basics are here to stay

For all that has changed throughout Google’s history, the fundamental rules of SEO still remain the same and should underpin your strategy in 2016. Make 2016 your year to nail the following:

  • Intelligent website structures: Factors like your navigation, alt tags and broken links all contribute to your ranking, which is why it’s crucial to get them right.
  • Keywords that matter: Especially long-tail keywords, which are less competitive than broad keywords. Tools like Google’s Keyword Planner can help you create lists of keywords to target.
  • Analysis is crucial to SEO: In 2016, analytics tools are more important than ever to help identify the keywords that convert, and indicate whether your SEO efforts are paying off.

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