By Travis Bliffen, Stellar SEO
More than halfway into 2016, it's the perfect time to reflect on the SEO efforts that are helping to maint a first-page position and those that are keeping a site on the dreaded page two and beyond.
For those looking to improve their efforts by year's end, implementing the following trends will serve them well now and in the future.
Google has frequently mentioned for quite some time that user experience (UX) is paramount in creating a website that ranks well and for an extended time. Site speed, navigation and mobile readiness are three UX factors that webmasters can no longer overlook if they hope to rest atop the search results. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are also making an impact among sites frequently publishing new content. A great site in 2016 will give users what they want, when they want it, and on their terms. A smart webmaster will take time to understand those three things and work to build a site that delivers.
2. On-Page Strategy
At one time on page SEO came down to overusing keywords. Today's Web professionals must take a much more holistic approach to create a well-optimized page. Schema markup, rich media, topical pages and smooth navigation between related articles are must haves for great on page in 2016. The constant flood of mediocre content has made it more challenging to create truly remarkable content but for those who manage, the payoff is greater than in past years.
3. User Metric Manipulation
SEOs are notorious for taking advantage of any potential loophole to drive rankings for client sites. User signal manipulation is a growing trend currently. Many speculate that Google looks at click-through rates, time on page, and number of pages visited to determine the quality of a website. Whether or not these signals actually impact rankings is still up for debate but marketers looking to get an edge are finding ways to manipulate these at the moment.
4. Blog Networks as Assets
The sheer mention of private blog networks (PBNs) has been known to upset marketers clinging to entirely "white hat" tactics. Currently many SEOs are building out private networks of sites that house high-quality content that is designed to rank for long-tail keywords closely related to the target terms for the money site. While considered to be a gray or black hat tactic, this strategy combines the ranking benefits of strong back links with the suspected benefits of improved user engagement to create a powerful asset capable of generating traffic, leads and rankings. Users beware, this strategy can get you into trouble if not done properly so don't try this one at home.
5. Integrated Marketing Campaigns
Google has redesigned its paid ad landscape a few times over the past year. Right-side ads have been eliminated, new ads have appeared above map results, and chances are, this is only the beginning of what changes are to come. When referencing the above strategies, a clear trend emerges, engagement helps earn and maintain rankings. Paid advertising, email marketing, and social media marketing all help in the generation of improved user engagement. Sites relying on a single channel for traffic should take this as a wakeup call to diversify your marketing strategy in 2016. As in year's past, change is a constant and diversification can be a websites moat.
6. Custom Trumps Cookie Cutter
Ready-made themes have served as the base for countless websites to date. Design is however evolving right alongside marketing strategies. A smart consumer can easily spot a cookie cutter website and in many industries, this is viewed negatively. Aside from the visual impact of template sites, how well can they really meet the unique needs of a client base? As the market progresses as a whole, working with a developer, designer and SEO company at the beginning of the process is much more important.
Together they can create a look, feel, and marketing strategy as unique as the clients a website serves. Gone are the days of hiring someone to "SEO" a site that is built. A great website in 2016 is purpose built and caters to the ideal client. Both of which are the result of proper market research and early planning with a marketing team. About the Author
Travis Bliffen is the founder of Stellar SEO, a Web design and marketing firm located in Franklin, TN. Travis and his team are equipped to handle any size SEO project and have helped numerous businesses to date build a rock solid online presence. When you are ready for more leads and sales, it is time to get #stellarized. Connect on Facebook or Twitter @theseoproz