Top SEO tips for 2016

Follow these SEO trends for better rankings in 2016

SEO is a very volatile industry because of the many changes that take place in the Google algorithm within a period. The algorithm set in place this month may not be the same the next. It is an always evolving algorithm that encourages SEO specialists to stay on their toes and keep abreast with updates.

As we pass the years half way point and start to look towards 2017, it has become more important for specialists to look out for trends that can affect search rankings for their keywords in this new year.

Considering the changes that took place in SEO this 2016, below are trends that you as an SEO specialist must look out for to improve your site performance on search results in 2016-17.

Optimize for Rich Answers

Although aiming for the top positions in Google search for your target keywords is still important, it's now time to optimize for other Rich Answers too. These are results that appear towards the top organic search results.

Google answer box

According to Stone Temple Consulting, rich answers appear on 19.45% of Google search results out of the 850,000 keyword queries used to trigger these.

The percentage may not be as high at the moment – most of the rich answers appear on search queries for song lyrics. However, there is good cause to believe that its number will only increase in the future. Since Google has made its intention of providing value to its users clear, rich answers provide the most relevant information based on the search query.

How to rank for rich answers: Northcutt Consulting Group has broken down the most relevant factors for ranking on rich answers.

Google answer box

The first point is important. Optimizing for rich answers requires you to optimizing for your target keyword as well. Getting your page to rank on the first page of search engines will increase your chances of getting into the rich answers box.

The post at Northcutt is not the definitive way to rank for the rich answer box since we are dealing with Google algorithm here, after all. Its algorithm can never be reduced to an exact science consider of how unstable it is. However, the post should give you a good idea of how you can increase your chances of getting your page on top the top of search results.

Review Google's other featured content

Keep an eye on the Mozcast Google Feature review for other types of content that features within Google results. Rich Answers are referenced here as 'featured snippets'.  A similar feature is 'Related questions', showing how our articles should try to cover these questions.  Images and videos are other better known ways of gaining cut-through in the SERPs for some search terms - check which are important for your industry.

Googles Featured content - Mozcast

Improve user engagement

Ever since, marketers have always speculated user engagement as a possible ranking factor. This covers the average time on site, bounce rate, pogo sticking, and others.

For conversion, it is a proven factor that determines the effectiveness of page elements that contribute to the chances of visitors committing to your call to action.

However, what makes this factors difficult to measure in search engines is the lack of data supporting it.

User engagement is too indirect an influence on search rankings. Nonetheless, it is something that all website owners need to optimize if they are serious about getting more out of their SEO efforts.

“User engagement is just as important as any other on-site element in this day and age,” says Matt Banner of OnBlastBlog.com. “If a visitor enjoys your website, they'll stay on your site longer, visit more pages, help contribute to a lower bounce rate for your site overall, and most likely become a returning visitor.

“All of these positive elements factored together combine for a type of website that Google wants to rank highly in the search engines. If the user finds the website beneficial, you can bet Google will as well.”

How to rank with the help of user engagement: To help improve your site performance, in the long run, using user engagement as a factor, you may need to use tools to gain insight on how much interaction your site pages is getting from visitors.

Heatmapping quickly comes to mind when thinking of user engagement. The idea here is that the more clicks a page accumulates from its links, the more interaction it has with users.

Tools like SumoMe Heat Maps and CrazyEgg are great ways to break down the number of clicks made by users on your tracked site pages. From here, you can see which links are clicked the most and least. You can then optimize your site by improving your CTA links and buttons based on the accumulated data.

To analyze visitor engagement with your site pages, the SumoMe Content Analytics is an extremely helpful tool in looking how many of your site visitors scroll down until the very end of the page. From the data, you can also find out which part of your page where 50% of your visitors leave. Determine which elements of your site pages serve as obstacles that prevent visitors from scrolling down your page and optimize your site as you see fit.

Mobile App Optimization

The mobile market is big. So big, in fact, that Google is still figuring out how to provide mobile users with a better search experience.

The so-called 'Mobilegeddon' or more accurately Google's Mobile-friendly update is a step towards this direction, as site owners are encouraged to develop mobile or responsive designs to increase the site’s loading speed on mobile devices. A faster loading site means more chances to retain visitors.

US mobile search ad spending

While there is also interest in spending on mobile ads as the figures from eMarketer show, Google will soon take a more crucial role in delivering content to mobile users, starting with app store optimization.

"ASO (App Store Optimization) will be the next gen SEO in 2016,” says Rob Lons of performance SEO services RankPay. “If you look at the rise of mobile use and how much paid ad dollars are being spent each year, you can see the huge demand and rush to reach people on their mobile devices.”

More importantly, the App Indexing is the latest development in search results that can make an impact in how your site pages will rank for your target keywords.

Originally, apps are indexed on App Store and Google Play, not on Google search. This made it much more complicated for Google to streamline its search capabilities – marketers will have to optimize on both app stores instead of just on Google organic.

Through App Index, apps are now indexed on Google search. The search ranking of apps falls under the App Pack or Deep Link category.

Below is a comparison of app rankings on mobile search. The image is taken from this extensive article about App Indexing at Search Engine Land.

app packsApp Indexing brings in millions of additional search results for search queries on Google mobile search. This means that webpages ranking for their target keyword will have to fight of million of app pages that are optimized for their keyword as well. As if the competition is not stiff enough!

How to rank for mobile search results after App Indexing: Instead of fending off app results for your target keyword, why not consider developing an app for your business?

If you do not have an app for your site yet, consider building one to take advantage of the benefits App Indexing brings, in particular, its deep links.

Choosing the best mobile app development services is just half the battle. The other half involves developing a solid foundation for your mobile app and the goal you wish to achieve in developing it. Identifying both should provide you a more strategic approach with your mobile app in line with meeting your online goals.

Once you have a mobile app in place, you can begin implementing the steps on how to get your deep app screen indexed on search results by referring to this straightforward documentation from Google. The process can be arduous for non-developers, so you may want to ask for help from an expert regarding this.

Google’s new search quality guidelines

Google released their latest 160-page search quality guidelines. The last previous published was the abridged version two years ago that was a reaction to the leaked versions from 2008, 2011, and 2012 (notwithstanding the 2014 version) for the purpose of transparency.

As expected, the published document is far from the finished product.

"This is not the final version of our rater guidelines,” says Google Senior Program Manager and Search Growth & Analysis Mimi Underwood in this post. “ The guidelines will continue to evolve as search, and how people use it, changes. We won’t be updating the public document with every change, but we will try to publish big changes to the guidelines periodically."

You can download your copy of the search quality guidelines from the link above.

Below are some key takeaways from the guidelines:

  • High-quality standards are set on Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) pages - These pages include shopping transaction pages, financial information pages, medical information pages, legal information pages, and similar sites. The reason for the placing high-quality standards on these pages is how these can affect "the future happiness, health, or wealth of users." Low-quality YMYL pages can negatively impact one's happiness and health, so it is important to build useful pages under this umbrella term.
  • The value placed on Expertise/Authoritativeness/Trustworthiness (E-A-T) –high-quality content must come from E-A-T sources. E-A-T is built by acquiring accreditation if necessary. For instance, medical information found online must come from accredited medical persons or organizations. Corollary, first-hand experience counts as a form of expertise. For example, a user sharing how he survived cancer is a form of expertise.
  • Needs Met guidelines cater to mobile usability – Web pages are gauged by how they are optimized for mobile viewing and the satisfaction they provide to users about the search query. The guidelines are loosely divided into five ratings (from Fully Meets to Fails to Meet) – a website can fall between the assigned ratings if needed be.

What to make out of these quality guidelines: All signs point to improving the mobile usability of your site (as already mentioned above), as well as establishing yourself as an influence within your niche. By building your expertise and knowledge in your industry, you can establish your authority as a subject matter expert, thus earning the trust of your audience.

You can start by launching an influencer marketing campaign to establish your online visibility. From there, you can slowly build yourself as an authority based on different factors such as your site's Domain Authority, social proof (testimonials from customers and social media shares), and blog comments, among other factors.

Update: Notified by Google after this post was written - they have new guidelines which require no more pop-ups on mobile pages (e.g. responsive pages). Essential to act on before 2017 when this change comes into affect.

Are there other ranking factors that SEO specialists and consultants need to take into consideration in 2016? Share your thoughts by commenting below!



Share your thoughts

  • Great article are always Dr Dave. However building relationships and or rapport with influencers is not as easy as it sounds for someone starting out without a significant marketing budget. Excellent tips

  • very detailed tips for web designers.
    recently I’ve read another similar article: http://www.nirmal.com.au/seo-tips-for-business/

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  • Thank you for this great update! The AMP pages helped my website rank much better in just a few days. it was unbelievable! I’d recommend it to anyone. Looking forward for more updates.

  • Amazing and helpful article for beginners. For me SEO is improved when you are having fresh, original and updated content according to the business. Simply SEO is in trend nowadays.

  • Another great tips that i have read today. Good job for sharing this seo tips.

  • Rich answers are definitely underestimated for their traffic value – have had a couple for clients and the CTR is actually insanely high, brilliant for new acquisition and awareness in the niche. I’ve found that tables of data work really well as well as tags – if it makes sense for the content to be tabulated of course. Getting a “read more” link on a snippet that returns the user to the parent page is absolute gold, too, so it is worth reviewing any snippets you have to see if you can make them work harder for you.

    • Hi Ruth – thanks for reinforcing the importance of these new SERPS features – we have seen their benefit too!

      I don’t think you can track the impact of these in GA. I’m not sure whether you can in Moz

  • Mikko commented on August 30, 2016

    I hadn´t actually heard of any of these YMYL or EAT changes so thanks. Google keeps getting smarter every year. It´s kind of exciting to see how far they can get in 5 or 10 years.

  • Great info on search engine optimization. Keep it up!

  • Nice sharing. This is so great. Keep update for more information.

  • Thank you for the valuable share we also above strategy for SEO. These techniques always helpful for digital marketing.

  • SEO has almost taken over the business market. SEO helps every type of business in reaching their targeted audience in a very full systematic manner and even helps in maintaining the reputation in the market for a longer duration.

    I read out all the tips and suggestions carefully, they are very nicely placed step-by-step. Newbie will able to better understand and will able to start with their own work as well.

    Great Share!!

  • Wim commented on August 10, 2016

    Very useful SEO tips, THX!

  • AArti commented on July 28, 2016

    Appreciate your level of detail and excellent tips for SEO. Will share with my contacts.

  • kailash commented on July 18, 2016

    I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I will like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.

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  • woow great seo tips ! … i’m starting optimizing my mobile friendly website after what you said about the benefits of that !
    thank you

  • please tell me new updates on seo how to increase the traffic

  • algety commented on June 18, 2016

    woow great seo tips ! … i’m starting optimizing my mobile friendly website after what you said about the benefits of that !
    thank you

  • Quite informative tips to beat SEO in the current competitive world. App optimization is getting to the peak with the evolution of mobile apps. Hence I guess it is a very important factor to succeed in 2016.

  • thanks for sharing these seo stat it will help me lot in figuring out the trends and upcoming changes in seo as well as social media

  • Obelisk Seo commented on May 27, 2016

    Great your artical .i think we can easly increase traffic on our website .thanks for sharing this artical

  • thank you for these beneficial tips, very fortune to find this post

  • Terry commented on May 5, 2016

    SEO for 2016 strategy is still not so different from 2015 SEO strategy. still there are very interesting things to consider and be taking serious for SEO strategy to be effective like optimizing for mobile and using SSL certificate among many others

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  • Atul commented on April 26, 2016

    Whats the new updates in SEO?

  • Nice place for beginners to learn SEO. Great blog and article. Keep posting.

  • Thanks for you thoughts, it is always nice to get new input on the changing sphere of seo. Keep at it.

  • Using li tags is definitely a good idea, they are easy to organize and present content. What would be the ideal article size in your opinion to rank?

  • Great site , this site is very good for SEO works help , i am fan of this site.

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  • Great post, Christopher, and very well written too! With regards to “ASO” part from the Search Engine Land link, are there any additional articles you could recommend on the subject?

    Many thanks,
    Josh

  • Very Helpful Post

  • Great post! As you said that SEO is an ever changing field and its important for SEO professionals to keep up with this changes. Mobile search is a big thing right now and very well likely be in future as well so its important to design mobile friendly sites.

  • Hamid commented on March 20, 2016

    Well, finally some new useful tips on SEO. Thanks!

  • Very well said! An SEO specialist always need to keep abreast of updates that could affect the ranking. Following the outdated techniques can greatly affect your search rankings and hence it is very important to stay updated.

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  • Bharti commented on March 8, 2016

    Hello, thanks for sharing the list. That was really helpful Please share more.

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  • What a great article Chris – Rich answers, YMYL and EAT. Liking the rich answers. Have seen this and engaged with it no lie. SEO really does keep you on your toes. Interesting to read that with the impact Mobile or Mobility is having on our lives, a business user should consider an App. Really? Is this just Google forcing us to spend more money, spending more on PPC? D

    • Thanks for the comment, Dylan! Regarding mobile app optimization, this is only applicable if you have a mobile app and want to rank higher on app search engines like Google Play and Google mobile search. Also, I don’t think Google necessarily wants you to spend on building an app and promoting it – if you don’t have the cash to shell out, then it’s okay. But if you want to serve your audience and users value through your business, aside from other benefits of a business app, then consider this as a good investment.

  • Informative post,Mobile App Optimization is become more important sector in SEO.

  • Indeed a very helpful post for us new beginners in SEO. This would surely help lots of people out their who are in need of SEO guidelines and more tips in establishing a good SEO campaign for a certain website.

  • simon kennedy commented on January 15, 2016

    Great post, thanks. Can anyone recommend a template or blueprint for tracking and managing keywords? For example – where do you store data about your rankings, keywords you plan to optimise, how your previously optimised keywords are performing? GWT offers the 90 day overview, but I assume most people must be importing that data into spreadsheets or other tools to track performance over time?

    • There are lots of tools out there for tracking your keyword rankings, but I have only tried out Moz Premium so far. It lets you track the performance of your content based on their respective target keywords. You can grade how optimized the page is and how high/low the page is ranking for the search query. Hope this helps.

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  • Awesome post I have book marked this one for later!

  • Wonderful but don’t forget..Technical is also on the list.. We always had been working on to improve what is seen upfront but google is giving importance to what is not seen. Website loading speeds, broken links, redirections and other sorts of technical factors are really important for ranking a website and making it visible on google search.

    • Definitely, Parvesh! The ones you mentioned are tried and tested SEO practices that everybody must observe on their sites.The ones I featured above are some of the updated and newer practices that site owners must incorporate in this SEO strategy.

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  • thanks for sharing this useful changes in seo am also an seo this article help me lot to learn more about seo.

    again thanks:-)

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