SEO marketing strategies are ever-evolving because of Google’s watchful eye and changing algorithms. What can you do to stay ahead of the curve and ensure longevity on page one?
Last year I gave some solid predictions for 2015 SEO strategies, but I’m here to refresh those predictions with a new post—not all of last year’s strategies will work in 2016. In fact, some of the strategies from last year will actually end up hurting your business in 2016.
How can you avoid a drastic plummet in rankings in 2016? How can you boost your rankings in Google’s eyes?
Without further ado, here are 10 of the best SEO strategies that still stand strong in 2016:
1. Engaging SEO content
This may seem obvious, but for the moment refrain from rolling your eyes and bear with me.
This point is worth mentioning every year. If you don’t write engaging content that incites action in users, you’ll find your page views dwindling significantly over time, leading to severely diminished returns.
And, frankly, if your users don’t find your content useful, neither will Google.
Creating engaging content doesn’t necessarily mean that a user is moved to engage with your product specifically. It means that you need to make the user want to engage with your industry.
Obviously, hosting the content on your site’s blog or throwing in a link or two of your own if you’re guest blogging won’t go amiss, but make sure to engage the reader and convince them to act on their engagement.
2. Original SEO content (don’t duplicate, don’t copy)
The clickbait sites are going to go the way of the dinosaurs starting in 2016.
This year, focus on creating original content for your own sites rather than cobbling together other peoples’ content. That, in Google’s eyes, isn’t even the slightest bit useful.
One of the ways that Google will weed out the winners and losers is through the use of list articles. While they are useful from time to time, as is the case here, they’re not an “all the time” thing anymore, unless you’re an established brand specializing in original list articles.
By ensuring your content is unique, you’ll see your rankings soar.
3. Evergreen SEO content (always-in-season)
Current events have become dominated by established news sources, Facebook statuses, and livetweeted events.
Obviously you’ll want to stay up to date and act accordingly, but your most valuable asset is going to be your evergreen content.
Evergreen content is content that sticks around for years and years. It’s not about what’s happening now; it’s what’s consistently relevant and always happening.
Of course you’ll want to write an article like the “10 SEO Strategies That Will Work in 2016” to be a relevant authority in your field. But you’ll also want to write articles about plagiarism and how it affects your content and your standing.
4. Long-form SEO content
You may think that readers want something punchy and pithy, but that’s not always the case. Easily digestible, bite-size morsels are wonderful for current events and surface analysis, but it’s not useful for that evergreen content you’re looking for.
When searching for in-depth analysis of an event or idea, your readership will be looking for length and, to be frank, you should need to write a few thousand words if you really know your stuff on the topic.
5. Don’t only focus on keywords
While you won’t want to cram your content with phrases like “guitar store” if you’re writing about the invention of the light bulb, you’ll want to kick the idea of the all-powerful keyword to the curb.
Google knows when you’re stuffing “computer hardware Fairbanks, Alaska” into your content simply to get it to the top. So stop.
Start creating content that accurately reflects what your users expect to find when they search for computer hardware in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Google is smart enough to know what your business is doing if it’s based in Fairbanks, Alaska and mentions hard disk drives, motherboards, and graphics cards. Let the content speak for itself and, again, engage the user.
If you must put keywords in, consider high search and low competition keywords but, again, don’t overuse them and don’t worry so much about them. This isn’t 2011.
6. Use location-oriented, long-tail keywords
If you want to increase awareness and visibility for your business, you’ll need to accept the fact that people are doing more now than simply entering words into search bars.
In the Google location service a physical business should obviously have its name, phone number, and address. But would you know their daily hours of operation, what they offer, their website, and the description of their company if that information was completely absent? This turns away quite a few potential customers and all it takes is a few keystrokes to remedy that problem.
Likewise, no matter if you have a location to focus on or not, if you want to use viable keywords that offer valuable opportunities, opt for long-tail keywords. You can read more about this in an earlier post I wrote on Local SEO.
7. Always optimize for mobile
The days of ten fingers on a keyboard are being pushed aside for two thumbs on a touchscreen.
Mobile search took over desktop search in 2015 and is sure to steadily climb to the forefront as an ever-increasing number of people shift to tablets and smartphones.
This means that your website should be comprehensively optimized for mobile if you want to avoid having to resort to the dreaded “back” button.
That said, you should bring your business into the Android Play Store or the iOS App Store as soon as possible.
The power of the app to not only remind customers of your business every time they hit their home screen as well as give them convenient access to view your content or buy from you can’t be emphasized enough.
Even if you don’t have a standalone app, but are integrated into another app, you’ll find a much broader customer base. If you’re a GrubHub user, consider the number of times you’ve foregone the use of Google to search for a restaurant that delivers for the convenience of the app.
8. Take into account the rise of voice search
One thing to remember about mobile functionality is the growing popularity and soon-to-be-ubiquitous use of voice search. You’ll find that more and more often your users are discovering you through voice searches like “Hey Siri” and “Okay, Google”.
While the use of keywords for search may be dwindling in popularity, they are still useful tools. Ensure that the keywords you are using are voice search-friendly. Nowadays phrases like “Plumber. Reno. Nevada” sound even more antiquated because it doesn’t reflect the way a person would actually make a voice inquiry into their smartphone.
With this in mind, tailor your keywords towards things you’d actually say out loud if you were searching for a plumber in Reno, Nevada.
9. Google is focused on providing answers: create answer-driven content
One way that voice search is affecting the ways in which users interact online is through natural questions with more immediate answers.
Quick, go type “How tall is the tallest man?” into Google right now. You’ll find out that his name was Robert Wadlow and he was 8’11” tall. You won’t even have to click on a link.
Although there is no link associated with the Robert Wadlow tidbit, there are often links for other questions, such as “What is the sun made of?” Again, voice search is making all of this possible and the likely candidate for how many people are going to search in the future, especially with wearable devices like the Apple Watch and the Galaxy Gear.
In 2016, the answer is the link to beat.
10. Focus on a varied online presence
Today’s customers are leagues savvier than ever before. This is because they’re looking for the best quality at the best deals. To do that, they’re performing more searches.
In the pre-Google era, searching for information about a given product or company was an all-day process. Now the same amount of information is available to us within minutes and just a few keystrokes.
This is why your business needs a varied online presence across other sites and throughout social media.
Keeping your brand in the eyes of the customer while they’re conducting their research will help with brand recognition and recall when your customer is ready to buy, hiking up those all-important conversion rates.
Conclusion: prepare thoroughly and be ready for anything
2016 is positioned to be a year filled with many updates to Google’s algorithms and you’d better be prepared for the ride. There’s talk of an impending new Penguin update, and we can expect more frequent real time upgrades in the way Google indexes searches and ranks them.
So gear up, prepare accordingly, and amass some reliable resources so that you’ll be able to do more than just stay afloat in the coming year.
And if you’d like more tips on how to improve SEO, download a copy of our complimentary eBook: