Search engine optimization (SEO) is still one of the most misunderstood aspects in online marketing. With so many changes in Google algorithm, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep up. As a webmaster, you need to know what is trending today while still keeping your ears on the ground for any Google algorithm updates.
For the last two years for instance, webmasters have been trying to predict the latest Google algorithm update. The question then becomes how to stay ahead in your SEO marketing in this volatile environment. As the year comes to a close, it is important to have a look at the SEO ideas that are trending in 2016 and the impact they will have even in the coming year.
These trends will affect improve your ranking while also boosting user engagement on your site. By leveraging these tips, you can still end the year on a high note by ranking highly for your targeted keywords:
- Optimizing for Rich Answers
While you should still focus on ranking based on your target keywords, it is important to realize the changing landscape on search engine result pages (SERPs). Rich answers now rank highly and according to Stone Temple Consulting, they now appear on around 19.5% of all Google search results. This percentage might not look big but with time, Google’s objective of giving users relevant content means more of these results will rank highly. To optimize for rich answers, you must rank highly for your target keywords. Your sentences should start with command words to increase the chances of ending up on the rich answers box.
- Focus on User Experience
One of the greatest pitfalls in SEO is blindly focusing on ranking and neglecting user experience. Most webmasters are full of sales pitches and this leads to a high bounce rate. Take for instance, if you are selling used cars and your landing page is just cluttered with images of your inventory. A user who wanted to learn about used car insurance will immediately realize you have no relevant content and click off.
Your focus should be on a great customer experience from the moment a user clicks to the closing moment. Your website should be easy to navigate,as this increases the probability of conversion. A good user experience also increases the chance of return users.
- Mobile Optimization
This goes without saying. Mobile is big in online marketing and if your website is not mobile friendly, you are missing out on a big opportunity to convert. Google says that mobile search has overtaken desktop search, which highlights the importance of a responsive website. Over 1.2 billion internet users today are on mobile and 4 out of 5 of consumers today use a smartphone to shop. Responsive web design means your website can be viewed from all devices, which increases visibility and leads to higher conversion. With the announcement of mobile-first indexing by Google, it is time to make your website mobile friendly to boost your site’s ranking.
- Create Long-form Content
Most webmasters argue that short content is ideal for internet users who are renowned for their short memory spans. Well, you are in for a big surprise because prospects that actually convert will take time to read your longer posts to understand what you are really selling. A Study by Dean’s Data shows that the average first page result on Google has websites with around 1890 words posts. You might have been led to believe that 400 word-blogs are the best but statistics now prove otherwise. The idea is to blend compelling writing with long-form writing and you will start observing a change in your ranking.
- Video Still Rules
Video is one of the most interesting SEO tools and one that will definitely boost your ranking. A study by Marketingland Research shows that video content accounts for 62% of all Google searches. In fact, the study projects 77% of internet traffic will be video by the end of 2017. Another study shows video content earns your site 41% higher click-through than static content. Video has dominated 2016 and will continue doing so in the coming year. Your objective is to create highly entertaining videos to captivate the attention of viewers and also increase your site’s ranking on SERPs.
- Site Speed Still Remains
Loading speeds are still part of Google’s algorithm. The average loading speed for a website determines the position of SERPs. You can use the many available free plugins to make your website faster and you will notice an impact on your SERPs ranking.
- Voice Search a Must
Voice search is more important today especially with most internet owners using mobile. Voice search is safer and more convenient and it allows users to find you faster. It is the best tool when you are multi-tasking and your website must be optimized to leverage these advantages. To do this, you have to change your keywords to make them more voice-search friendly. Follow up questions will also become a feature on voice search to provide more information to the user.
- Thinking Beyond Keywords
SEO was easy before Google started sealing the loopholes. One of the easiest ideas was to stuff your content with keywords, but this now attracts penalties. Keywords are still important for ranking but you need to appreciate that their prominence in ranking is less dominant. Google and other search engines are now focusing on semantic meaning to rank websites and this means you must create high quality content to answer questions that users on your website are most likely to ask.
- The Mobile App Craze
Techcrunch says that mobile apps today account for over 52% of all the time users spend online. Most users start their mobile internet experience on an app and this highlights why businesses are investing heavily in mobile apps. Using your brand in the app name will help improve your visibility on the first page on SERPs.
There are many other SEO trends that have dominated 2016 and more are emerging. Most of these will play a crucial role even in the coming year, hence the need to stay updated on the same.