The end of the year marks the perfect time to make an action plan for the next 12 months.
When it comes to SEO, there are a few no-brainer resolutions that Web professionals should make to ensure their digital properties are visible to current and prospective customers on the search engine result pages (SERPs). The following four New Year's SEO resolutions are a good place to start:
1. Develop Longer Content
Google wants to rank quality content that is aimed at experts and explains an idea (or several) in a comprehensive way. In fact, longer content (think 1,500 words or more) ranks significantly higher than shorter content. Professionals will want to fully develop their thoughts to provide readers (and the search engines) with answers to their questions. How do you develop content? A good brainstorming session is a smart place to begin. Places to get content ideas can include keyword research, of course, as well as a look at what people are searching for on your site, what they are frequently asking questions about and what topics are trending on the various social networks (that are relevant to your business).
While good content ends when a problem has been solved, one way to extend content is by including supporting quotes within articles. For those businesses unfamiliar with collecting quotes from industry sources, HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a good option (bloggers can post questions and industry experts will email their answers) as is simply reaching out to contacts via email or Twitter. Most of your peers will want to provide their thoughts to be recognized as a thoughtleader as well as to get a valuable backlink.
2. Be Social
While some aspects of social-SEO are still up for debate, there's no arguing that Google is once again indexing tweets - and that's important. The more SEO professionals share links to their authoratative content, the more they are seen as an expert on the subject at hand and the more people will follow them and share their content for them. It's never a bad idea to get your content shared and social media is the best place to encourage getting external links.
To make a person's time on the social networks even more productive, they should consider using a social media management tool, like Buffer for instance, to ensure posts are being shared at optimal times (based on their history and the accounts of people like them) to have the most organic reach. What's more, including an image within a post can boost its organic reach. Buffer is trying out "Pablo," a tool that allows Web professionals to create an image without leaving Buffer. This can save a person time, as opening up a third-party app (like Canva or Pagemodo) just adds one more step into the process of sharing a link (although links can be shared via those apps as well, but they do not provide the same post-optimizing technology that Buffer does).
The two other New Year's SEO resolutions mentioned here are definitely to boost organic visibility, but believe it or not, so is advertising. This is because in 2012 Google reported that even for sites "claiming a No. 1 organic ranking, paid ads provided 50 percent incremental clicks (meaning, half of the top-ranking site's visits would not have happened without the presence of paid ads)." While 2012 is absolute ancient times in digital marketing, Google's findings have been on par with several studies since then. Even with effective SEO efforts, businesses should consider paid search campaigns in the New Year to get incremental clicks.
4. Think Locally
Every business is a local business, but not every company thinks locally. In 2016, brands should allow their local marketers to develop localized content that resonates with their area, demographics, dialects and more. By localizing messaging and promotions, enterprises not only have a better chance of improving conversions, but also getting Google to recognize them as a big brand (which can reportedly help with organic SEO efforts). Companies should also create social media accounts for each of their locations (most importantly Google+) to be placed above the "normal" SERP results. Of course, each of the company's social media profiles will need to be optimized with correct contact info, images and the publishing of consistent, local content.
These New Year SEO resolutions just scratch the surface of the work to be done in 2016 to build or maintain organic rankings, but they represent a good place to start. If, however, your company does not have a mobile website or a responsively designed one, start there instead. Google of course penalized sites this year for not catering to users on all devices.