Now we all know that almost everything has become digital. Most businesses are online, from blue chip companies to the smallest of businesses. If you have a business and don’t have a website, well, then it’s fairly safe to say that something is very wrong. How many times a day do you “Google” something, whether it’s a product, service or location?
Let me start by quickly talking about SEO “back in the day,” when ranking in Google was so much easier. One could get away with almost anything: spammy links, keyword stuffing – the list goes on. Today, it’s not that easy. Why? According to Internet Live Stats, there are over 1 billion websites online (including social platforms), so you do the maths. Essentially, you’re competing with A LOT of websites in your industry.
Google has changed dramatically on how search results are ranked. If you have been following the algorithm updates over the years, you’ll know and understand this. However, if you do everything according to the book and keep up-to-date with trends and updates, you should be okay. I believe that some old SEO techniques still matter, as well as new ones, of course.
Here are a few tips for 2016 (in no specific order):
URLs describe a site or page to visitors and search engines. Keeping them relevant, compelling and accurate is the key to ranking well. The URL of a web document should ideally be as descriptive and brief as possible. If, for example, a site’s structure has several levels of files and navigation, the URL should reflect this with folders and subfolders. Individual pages’ URLs should also be descriptive without being overly lengthy, so that a visitor who sees only the URL could have a good idea of what to expect on the page.
Other than making sure that you have proper Alt Tags, you should also be weary of having images that are too big. Other than making sure that you have proper Alt Tags by naming your images descriptively, you should also be weary of having images that are too big. There’s a fine line between images that are too big and images that are too small. Why is this? Having large image files can affect your page load time speed, which could have a negative impact on your website. Try and keep your images below 100kb. There are numerous tools out there that you can use to edit images. Images that are too small will be of a lower quality, which could make the page look unprofessional.
Responsive web design, technical SEO and good hierarchy
Have a great-looking website that does not only cater for desktop users, but also for mobile. Also, make sure that all the technical elements have been taken care of with the Web Developer’s SEO Cheat Sheet and Google’s Webmaster Guidelines (this includes making sure that you have good page load speed time), and do regular checks for errors on the site, from 404s to 500 server errors. Having a proper hierarchy will not just improve user experience, but will also assist in rankings.
Create a HTML sitemap for your website, as well as a XML sitemap that should be uploaded to Webmaster Tools.
Use relevant keywords
Make sure you do proper keyword research. Have the most relevant keywords on your website weaved throughout quality content. Also, don’t forget keyword mapping.
Optimise metadata and content
Unfortunately, one can’t trick Google with keyword stuffing in metadata and content anymore. However, good metadata still matters, it just shouldn’t be the main focus. There should be a balance between all the SEO factors and it’s important to remember that content is still king and probably always will be. Make sure your website contains quality content and has articles that are optimised for Google’s Rich Answers.
On page and off page SEO
I have already covered a few on page factors such as metadata. Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of websites that neglect headers like the H1, H2, H3 etc. Now you don’t need to use all headers, but I think if you have at least an H1 and one or two H2s, you’ll be good.
Then there’s off page: link building is way different to what it used to be – no more using random directories and spammy techniques. Make use of only the best websites (blogs, article submissionwebsites, etc) and if you have been doing link building for a long time, it’s time to do a cleanup, as there might be some unwanted backlinks. This is even more important now that the upcoming Google Penguin update is headed our way.
Social media integration
Social media does not actively have an effect on rankings, but having it can improve online presence. Make sure that you make use of all the necessary social media platforms relevant to your products/services and they should be properly optimised and integrated with each other, as well as with your website. User/customer engagement is important, so be proactive.
With the increase of mobile search volumes, voice search is going to grow more and more. Voice search also goes hand in hand with rich Answers.
Get found for local searches by adding your business on Google Places and optimising it properly. Have a good online reputation – strive for getting positive reviews and not bad ones.
So, a short summary about everything I have mentioned:
Have an SEO-friendly website designed and developed.
Make sure that your website doesn’t only look good for users, but for Google as well, by getting the backend and frontend 100%.
Optimise your website correctly, as well as your social media.
And last but not least, make use of paid media, including paid social – this will be an advantage because Organic + Social + Paid = Perfect Match.
We should strive to change and improve our strategies, because SEO is changing, and so should our way of thinking.
“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”― Thomas S. Monson
By Marilie Doman