The importance of a strong SEO campaign can never be exactly measured, but there are definitive ways to tell if it’s working or not. Like most other industries, the rules and guidelines for search engine optimization change frequently. However, unlike most other industries, the rules and guidelines for search engine optimization can change from week to week, if not day to day. 2016 saw many dramatic changes to the landscape of internet marketing and in this article we will go over some of the most crucial ones that you may have not known had changed at all.
A strong social media presence that will benefit your website’s search engine rankings is definitely attainable, but can take a lot of time for the desired results. 2016 has seen an increase in the value of a brand’s social media presence. This works both ways: a positive presence will enhance your SEO value, and a negative presence will diminish your SEO value. Before 2016, search engines paid attention to the social signals of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, but over the last 6 months or so, search rankings have better benefited from them. Brands that are active on social media, have a consistent base of followers, post relevant content that people are sharing and liking, have positive testimonials, are the ones that see an increase in organic traffic to their site. And while it doesn’t necessarily contribute to a site’s SEO just yet, Snapchat can help with brand awareness via storytelling! This isn’t to say that this wasn’t true before, the fact of the matter is that 2016 will be a game-changer in the way that search engines evaluate social media trends.
Mobile-focused SEO is on the rise! 2015 was the first year that desktop traffic was surpassed by mobile traffic, and this number is only expected to rise. Google’s release of “Mobilegeddon” was a powerful step because it now phases out any sites that are not mobile compatible. And just last week, Google announced the second version of their mobile-friendly update. The general public’s reliance on mobile devices is not expected to decline and why should it? It provides on-the-go access to information in a matter of seconds, so it only makes sense that sites unable to adapt are phased out. It’s also important to keep in mind the disadvantages of using cheap SEO services; some of them are still neglecting the importance of a mobile website!Tags, tags, and more tagsIn the past, the best way to clarify bits of content was through the use of tags in order for search engines and readers to better understand. But are they still as important? The answer changes from tag to tag. MetaFor example, the importance of meta tags have certainly lost their power on rankings over the last several years and beginning months of 2016 has been no different. While they are still important for categorizing the content of the site, their power in search rankings has declined. TitleResearchers from backlinko.com found that a keyword-optimized tag correlated to better rankings, but the number is significantly smaller than it used to be. They still play a role in SEO, but title tags are long gone from the days of being the deciding factor. HeaderOn the brighter side of things, it appears the header tags are in it for the long haul. In a study done by SearchEccentric with Motor Cars Ltd, the overhauling of their current header tags to become more SEO-friendly resulted in a jump from 320 in the SERP’s to the number one spot. In addition to this, web designers now understand the importance of header tags more than they once did. This is a reflection of the statistic that the number of pages using h1 tags has increased since 2014. Blog PostBlog post tags are a way of contextualizing your posts so that they are a part of the site’s structure. Categories and tags are the two main elements in organizing any blog post website. Let’s say you run a blog about aquariums, you might have categories such as “Freshwater”, “Saltwater”, or “African Cichlids” which are very vague terms to categorize posts. But you may have tags such as “Loaches”, “Angelfish”, or “Sharks” which relate to specific types of fish. Blog post tags don’t exactly get you ranked higher, but they still help you in the long run. The main draw of these tags are to improve user experience, which in turn lowers bounce rates and makes your site easier to navigate. And with Google’s increased awareness of a website’s perceived quality of experience only expected to increase as time goes on, it makes blog post tags, all the more important.
Write copy for people, not search engines
Content writing may seem like a no-brainer,but therein lies the challenge. You may be thinking, “I run a landscaping site, so I’ll just cram my website with words such as ‘landscaping’, ‘tree removal’, ‘grass cutting’, and others, but search engine crawlers are continuously getting better at picking out the keyword stuffers. Writing appropriate copy for your website should be for the benefit of your readers, not the search engine. If your site has low bounce rates and attracts the right crowd, the search engines will certainly take notice and enhance your rankings accordingly. 2016 certainly has the potential to be a make-or-break year in terms of search rankings. Knowing exactly what to put on your site, reevaluating certain sections after a few months of less-than-stellar reports, is a skill that needs to be improved upon in 2016.
Local SEO is here to stay
Local SEO is becoming more and more prominent. In 2014, the world saw perhaps the biggest leap in local search algorithms with the release of the Pigeon update and the creation of Google My Business. People are looking for businesses, trade goods, or even just information that are located in their specific area. Local listings with detailed business information helps Google narrow down each individual’s potential decisions. That being said, Google doesn’t only rely on giving you the nearest business, it also relies heavily on giving you well-known and regarded businesses. According to Google, the percentage of mobile searches with local intent is 50%, and this lead to a growth in local businesses. What started in 2014 is still rapidly expanding to this day and the amount of local inquiries has grown astronomically. Read more about our ultimate guide to local SEO.
We aren’t even halfway through 2016 but already we’ve seen a game-changing shift in the way search engines rank your site. A strong social media presence builds a community of real people around your brand. This enables the use of reviews, likes, shares, retweets, and other social functions in your sites ranking. While this was a factor in 2015 and years prior, 2016 has surely stepped up its game. We also saw in 2015 the dreaded “Mobilegeddon”, and even just last week we saw Google’s second version of their mobile-friendly update but moving forward, the ability to have your site accessible on every mobile device is crucial. Tags have been around for years and while they don’t all appear to have a direct relation to an increase in site rankings, search engines will take notice of your sites enhanced user experience. And in addition to tags, content is key. Knowing what content to put up on your site and know what not to put on your site are ways that search engines categorize your site effectively. And arguably the most important change the 2016 has brought about is the enhancement of local SEO. Yes, it really took root in 2014, but it hadn’t fully flourished until earlier this year. So 2016 will be a demanding year for web designers, but staying ahead of the curve is just another part of the job!
Drew Rigler is a seasoned Digital Marketing expert and owner of Planet 8 Digital and ServMark Digital Marketing Agency. He has been in the Digital Marketing industry for over 20 years, starting as Web Designer, SEO Director, Director of Digital Marketing has has experience in all facets of marketing online.
Planet 8 Digital is a full-service SEO Company & Digital Marketing Agency, & a located in Southampton & Newtown, PA, in Bucks County, Greater Philadelphia PA area, as well as Montgomery County PA & South New Jersey. We are dedicated to helping small businesses grow their business using the power of the web, through SEO, Social Media Marketing, Adwords/PPC, Web Design, Video Marketing & much more.