SEO has never been easy. We get to see changes every now and then a sudden change will happen to mess us up. It doesn't matter whether it has a negative or positive effect to a website, the change affects us. What does matter is you have to embrace change no matter what the impact will be and move on.
Expect changes will happen again throughout the year in 2016 and know how to anticipate them by keeping up with the best practices.
Before your website is smashed down to the ground and lost in the pages of Google forever, I'll share what your website absolutely must have today to ensure you avoid punishment. If you are a business owner, you never want this to happen!
Invest highly in mobile
Mobile is the next big thing. Google has made an official announcement on their blog about mobile friendliness, but this announcement was not surprising at all. Due to the high volume of search for mobile users, most websites are optimized for search and users are already mobile friendly.
However Google sent out reminders to webmasters to adapt so it should be pretty clear by now that Google is undoubtedly serious about their intent to give a better experience for mobile users.
How this will help you in 2016
- Mobile friendly websites have an advantage to rank for mobile search
- Can expand your traffic from desktop to mobile users
- You can enhance your traffic conversion from desktop to mobile traffic
Fixing mobile usability issue isn’t that complicated. Google provides a free tool in Search Console on the areas of improvement for mobile friendliness issues such as:
- Viewport not configured
- Fixed-width viewport
- Content sized viewport
- Flash usage
- Small font size
- Touch elements too close
With this information on hand, you can easily spot the areas for improvement that you might have to address to provide better user experience for your target audience.
Invest in a safe browsing
Safe browsing is the next big thing. Recently, Google has made an announcement on their blog about HTTPS. In fact, they recently announced that they have added HTTPS as one of the ranking signals. Unfortunately, not all websites have embraced the recent announcement by Google. So you will see websites with HTTP and HTTPS in SERPs.
Unless they make it a requirement (which they probably will in 2016!)
Who is this for?
- Websites with login information required
- Websites that require user information to pay online
- Websites require subscription information from users
And now, Google has made another announcement in December 2015 about prioritizing HTTPS over HTTP websites by default. This should not be highly surprising to SEO industry as Google made a significant clue when they added HTTPS as a ranking factor.
Benefits of HTTPS in 2016
- A prioritization in indexing
- You can get a ranking boost over your competitors
- Trust earns from users because of security protocol
Disadvantages of moving from HTTP to HTTPS
- A loss in organic traffic within the transition period from your end and Google’s end.
- Mistakes can happen and it will happen.
- It will require a little money, time and manpower investment
Moving from HTTP to HTTPS should be planned first. Although it is associated with risks, just look at the bright side of long term benefits. After all, it is a recommendation from Google so websites hoping to get organic traffic should embrace this recommendation.
Focus on theme keywords
Keyword density is dead and gone. People search online for a purpose. They need information to solve their concerns or want further education on something they are not fully aware of. If you are optimizing your content for target keywords and not writing for people, your rank will drop. It isn't a recommended practice in 2016.
You need to be informative in every content you produce. Don’t stress too much that your piece of content is about this or that topic. Google’s understanding about web pages has been improved and they don’t use the exact match keyword to figure it out.
Google uses various methods to interpret what a web page is about or what a whole website is about such as:
- Term frequency
- Synonyms and close variants
Improve user experience
One of the goals in technical SEO is to provide a better user experience. You need to consider what happens next once you have successfully brought traffic onto a website. After all, part of the marketing strategies to drive traffic must be driven with the intent to convert the traffic. Optimizing for user experience shouldn't be overlooked as you won’t see better conversion rates if your traffic leave straightaway.
Below are some tips to get started:
- Visually good
- Clear site navigation
- Website load time speed
- Multi-devices compatibility
- Fix 404 pages
- Offer HTML sitemap
- Improve readability
- Improve website layout
How this can help you in 2016
- Your website traffic will have a good experience browsing your website.
- You can easily convert your website traffic to customers
- This can influence your website performance in organic ranking
Allow scripts for crawling
This 2016, I won’t be surprised if Google will make another announcement of the potential harmful effect of disallowing bots to crawl Java Scripts and CSS. So it is absolutely a must that you allow the bots to crawl and index the whole website as required by Google.
SEO industry is always changing. We all know for a fact that Google will always introduce something new to the industry as months go by in 2016. Keeping ourselves up to date with the trends is the key to keep learning and growing. Relying solely on these tips is not enough, but it is a good start and will play an important role this year.
Joseph Gojo Cruz is the author of RankingElite, a Philippine-based Internet Marketing blog. Joseph has been working in online marketing industry for over 3 years from website audit, link and content development, social media and search engine optimization. Connect with Joseph on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. Joseph is also a contributor on Search Engine Journal and Ahrefs.