With top search engines constantly changing and evolving their indexing and ranking techniques and algorithms to achieve better, more relevant results, search engine optimization strategy with every SEO needs to evolve and change in tandem. This year was full of interesting and unique developments in SEO. These developments were brought about largely with the implementation of new search engine ranking algorithms. This, in turn, sparked a concerted effort for change and evolution among the ranks of search engine optimization professionals.
In the coming days, these trends are expected to hold good and new developments can also be expected along the same lines. With the focus firmly on content, returning relevant search results, mobile optimized websites and smooth and easy navigation, here are some of the important SEO recommendations. Keeping these in mind while devising and implementing your SEO strategy will hold you in good stead for the upcoming year .
Keyword Research and Optimization
With the Hummingbird update, Google made clear their intention to focus firmly on contextual and conversational search. This focus on semantic search warrants that SEO strategies for this year be made keeping semantic factors in mind. As per stats from Keyword Discovery site1, English users prefer using 2 to 3 words in their search query rather than single word query.
The essence of semantic search lies in the fact that more focus would be placed on the actual meaning or context of a search query taken as a whole, and not as a bunch of short primary keywords. Keeping this in mind, keyword research should be focused on identifying both long tail keywords and LSI keywords.
Long tail keywords will help search engines understand the relevance of your website and content with respect to the specific search queries of users, while LSI keywords widen your scope and reach. High-quality keyword research remains relevant, even more so now with the advent of conversational search and semantics-based search queries and results. Adapting your keyword research workflow to make room for conversational queries will significantly boost your chances in coming years.
Understanding Diagnostics and Mobile Optimization
Understanding and integrating website diagnostics into your SEO strategies has always been a crucial part of the overall SEO workflow. With the advent and proliferation of smart devices and the huge user base that they enjoy, Google has started placing more importance on Mobile optimization as an important factor in determining site rankings. Mobile searches do not always have the local intent.
For example, over 40% of mobile shoppers do both their product research and their shopping online. Over 40% of smartphone users in the USA considered their smart devices as their main search tool, and according to current projections, mobile searches set to overtake desktop search in the coming years. With these in mind, it is prudent to take advantage of the “mobile-friendly” label assigned by Google and improve your SEO. Google also provides Webmasters with special tools which they can use to their journey towards mobile optimization.
The one important thing about Google and other major search engines is that they have the ability to differentiate between good content and poor content. Google’s ability to gauge the quality, engagement and uniqueness of web content has improved in leaps and bounds over the years and is set to improve even more.
In recent times, in addition to preferring high-quality content, Google has also shown a willingness to attach more importance to content that is relevant, apt, fresh and interesting. Therefore, it would be a good strategy to ensure that the content of your website gets updated at regular intervals and the information on offer provides genuine value and interest for your users. Apart from using high-quality, relevant content, keeping things fresh will significantly improve usage experience – something that is bound to score points with Google.
The Importance of Links
As popular as getting backlinks as a sound SEO strategy, of late, professionals have had to think and rethink about the efficacy of collecting backlinks in large volume. Over the course of the last few updates, Google has started placing less importance on the number of backlinks and is putting more focus on the quality and relevance of every single backlink while calculating page ranks.
Paying for links is no longer a good SEO strategy and this is where backlinks that you have earned due to your merit from authority websites and high-quality web pages come in handy. Here as well, having great and engaging content is one of the key factors. In addition, you can also explore other avenues like getting back links leveraging your online and off-line relationships, or taking part in broken link building activities. The more high-quality backlinks that you can gather for your website from reputed and authority websites, the better your fortunes will be in coming years when it comes to SEO.
Leveraging Your Brand Visibility
For businesses that work with a limited geographical scope, getting themselves ranked for their chosen local search queries is much easier as the competition is geographically limited. With respect to this phenomenon, SEO effort should focus on leveraging your brand and increasing your authority level by getting brand citations on the Internet. A brand citation is usually a listing of the name and address of your business along with its phone number at another location on the Internet.
For your business, getting these brand citations contributes to your overall authority – something which Google considers important while assigning ranks. As a business, you should focus on getting three kinds of citations – local, which includes local directories, industry based, which includes getting mentioned on industry specific directories and groups, and niche based. If you can optimize your brand presence across multiple versatile platforms, it can act as a major catalyst for your search marketing strategy and bring you better results and performance over the years .
The one fact that SEO professionals and website owners need to wake up to is that search engines only like a particular website as much as its human users do. If you have a website that suffers from high bounce rates or your users do not spend much time on your website, you need to rethink your strategies and ensure that your website provides a more rewarding, fulfilling usage experience. This will not only increase your conversions but also make your website more appealing to search engines.
The average time every user spends on your site and your site bounce rate are two factors that Google considers to be of importance while ranking your website.For this, you need to have a clear plan when it comes to your user interface – avoid confusing navigation issues, have a streamlined and indicated URL structure and make use of XML sitemaps. Google also provides you with advanced Webmaster tools that help you minimize website issues like crawling errors, navigational problems, broken links and other factors which contribute to negative SEO.
With these important factors in mind, you need to devise a smart, scalable and adaptive SEO strategy to allow for the latest developments in the field of search engine algorithm updates. Having a website that is supremely appealing to your user base already wins most of the battle on your behalf.