Over the past year, we’ve witnessed big changes in search ranking factors. So, if you’re looking to realize success with SEO as we head toward the end of 2016, it is imperative that you embrace SEO best practices.
A lot has changed in the SEO industry, but the same can’t be said for the principles of keyword research — they have remained fairly constant. Just like in the past, you still need to research the words and phrases (keywords) that customers are using to find your business and products.
Here’s what an effective keyword research strategy entails:
- using valuable keyword research tools — like Searchmetrics’ Keyword Analysis tool, Google’s Keyword Planner, and SEMrush — to find keywords that aren’t too competitive
- carrying out a comprehensive analysis of your website analytics to find the keywords that are already generating traffic
- analyzing your competitors’ most popular pages to discover the keywords they’re targeting
- focusing on long-tail keywords and semantically-related phrases — because natural language is becoming more pervasive and popular in search
These tactics have proven beneficial when it comes to finding relevant keywords; however, using keywords alone does not necessarily guarantee high search engine rankings.
Google is becoming more sophisticated and keeps updating its search algorithms. Consequently, search queries — rather than being looked at as keywords — are being analyzed based on user intent. This means you need to change the way you perform keyword research. Instead of looking for words or phrases to use in your content, focus on learning more about your audience’s interests and needs.
Changes to local SEO in 2016
Google is making good progress in targeting local results. That’s why it’s important that we look at local search in this SEO guide. The increase in the popularity of mobile devices has made the web more local than ever.
Google is well aware of this trend and is shifting its attention towards a reasonably intuitive local search experience. So, if you own a local business, you shouldn’t disregard local search when planning your business strategy.
Google has made some pretty important changes to local search. For instance, Google now shows “three-pack” results instead of seven- and ten-packs for local keywords. Your aim, therefore, is to ensure your local business listing doesn’t appear anywhere below the top three search results.
Here are some useful tips to ensure you stay ahead when it comes to Google local rankings:
- Ensure your website is mobile friendly. You can use Google’s mobile usability tool to test your website’s mobile friendliness.
- Be sure to use business.google.com to verify your business.
- Use a vivid description to populate your Google listing, add accurate categories, and have pictures. Also, make sure you link to both your website’s homepage and its contact page.
- Mark-up your location data by using JSON-LD Schema markup.
- On sites like Facebook, YP.com, Google, Foursquare, find any duplicate listings and remove them; duplicate listings bear a negative impact on local rankings.
As mobile searches continue to increase, so do voice searches. According to Google, 40% of adults and 55% of teens are using voice search. This behavior has a great impact on SEO (especially the keywords being used).
For instance, if you’re searching for an affordable shoe store in Dallas, you might say, “Is there an affordable shoe store nearby?” But if you type out this search instead, you might simply use the keywords, “shoe store Dallas.” As a business, you need to optimize your website to match the way customers are using voice-based search.
Content and word count
For a long time now, it’s been pretty clear that Google prefers more comprehensive, longer content. Research shows that top-ranking content has an average word count of 1,200 to 1,500 words. When producing content, strive to generate content that comprehensively covers your topic, and Google’s parser will rank your site more highly.
The way your prospects search for your business and products continues to change as society and technology change. That’s why you need to stay up-to-date with the latest SEO best practices. Additionally, you want to make sure your content remains current and relevant. You want to continue to build stronger customer relationships (and reviews). And, most importantly, you must continue to stay informed on the latest trends in SEO.
“SEO Best Practices: Fall 2016 ” was written by guest author Stephen O. Odipo. Stephen is a versatile and enthusiastic freelance writer and professional blogger. When not tapping away on his keyboard, he enjoys eating chicken wings and catching up on the latest Sci-Fi movie.
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