Want to master SEO? Good luck with that. SEOs today realize that it’s a vast and varied field, with opportunities galore for pitfalls and perils.
If you’re a busy marketer, leader, or businessperson, you don’t have time to acquire the latest cutting-edge knowledge. Instead, you need up-to-date answers on what’s hot in SEO and what to do about it.
Here’s your guide — the twelve things happening in SEO that you should know about.
1. SEO is not dead.
Despite protestations to the contrary, SEO still hasn’t died. You can keep on “doing SEO,” provided you’re doing the right thing, and keeping up to date with the right information.
2. Brand signals are huge.
Google and other search engines appear to be valuing brand integrity, measuring something called brand signals. Brand signals are the digital presence that your brand possesses. It could include social buzz around your branded terms, Google+ optimization, mentions in other publications, or your personal brand visibility associated with your brand name. With Google’s Knowledge Graph, brands that are doing it right can get powerful a powerful SERP presence.
3. Linkbuilding is risky business. (Don’t do it.)
It should be general knowledge by this time, but the truth bears repeating: Link building is risky business. Google levels manual penalties on websites that attempt to build links. Rather than gaming the system to try to generate links, I recommend using content marketing. Great content earns great links. If you’re still looking for “tricks,” there are a few safe and low-risk techniques that still work.
4. Guest posting is still strong.
With the backlash around gest posting a while back, many content marketers were skittish when it came to creating guest posts. There’s nothing to be afraid of. As long as you’re writing great stuff for great websites, guest posting is still a very good idea.
5. SEO is more about user experience than anything else.
SEO tricks and gimmicks are less effective than they’ve ever been. Today, a high-ranking website is sure to be optimized to the hilt — optimized for users, that is. A clear interface with easy functionality is critical for a site’s high search performance. Happy visitors mean higher rankings.
6. Content still wins.
Regardless of your favorite SEO technique, one thing remains supremely true. Content is far and away the best and most reliable SEO methodology of all time. Content in all its various forms is what users want and need. Content is what the search engines reward. The web today is all about content — video, social, infographic, webinar, articles, etc. Become a more effective content marketer, and you will win at SEO. It’s that simple.
7. Google’s logo change, restructuring, and name change to “Alphabet” doesn’t change how SEO works.
The algorithm that runs Google’s search hasn’t changed even though the logo and corporate structure of Google has. Google is still Google. The algorithm is still the algorithm. Search is still search.
8. Queries impact your rankings.
A lot of things can impact your rankings — keywords, content, freshness, backlinks, etc. Recent evidence suggests that queries — the things that users search for — can also impact your rankings. By associating, say, brands with generic phrases, Google’s machine learning methodology can create associations and rules that influence your rankings.
9. Your clickthrough rate is a ranking factor.
When users see the search engine results page with your site, they will either click on your site or they won’t click on it. Google records this action, rolls it into their big data log, and uses it to influence ranking. Search results with higher CTRs are, presumably, better results, deserving of higher ranking.
10. Dwell time is a ranking factor, too.
Dwell time is the amount of time that a user spends on the page, including how quickly they click on the search result, and what they do once they’re on that page. Another way of referring to dwell time is to speak of a long click vs. a short click. In a long click, the user may click on a search result, and stay a long time on the site. Maybe they don’t go back to the SERP. Maybe they come back after a long time. A short click, on the other hand, happens when the user clicks a search result, and quickly comes back to the SERP after just a few seconds. Google figures out that the long click result is probably a better result for users, and rewards it with higher rankings.
11. Repeat spam sites will get harsher penalties.
Google penalizes 200,000 sites per month for violating their guidelines. To recover from a penalty, sites must go through the labor-intensive process of creating lists of links to disavow, and then submitting reconsideration requests. As of September 2015, Google promises harsher penalties on those who repeatedly violate the guidelines, such as removing a spammy link and then reinstating it once the penalty has been lifted.
12. Mobile matters.
Ever since Mobilegeddon of April, 2015, every digital marketer has known the truth: Mobile friendly matters. Sites that have not yet adapted to the mobile milieu are going to fade into oblivion. You must ensure that your entire digital presence is mobile optimized — responsive website, mobile-friendly checkout, and everything else mobile.
Keeping up with SEO’s manifestations, methodologies, and meandering techniques has never been easy. Every few hours, Google changes its algorithm. Every few months, it completely upsets the fruit cart with a tectonic shift in everything.
Thankfully, you don’t need to know every algorithmic twitch. You simply need to serve your users as best you know how. Give them the best content and the best experience, and your rankings will remain strong.