The search engine optimization game hasn't grown any easier. As major search entities like Google become smarter about how they organize search results, their methods of building SEO guidelines has become more of a strain on marketers. Search engines want to provide highly relevant results, and this means finding new measurements, metrics and tweaks that will steer current search results toward new iterations that are of greater value to users.
For consumers, this is a great thing, but it saddles marketers with more work than ever. Here are some of the top guidelines for a successful SEO strategy in 2016.
Setting Goals From the Start
If you're reading this article, it's clear you're already thinking about strategy concerns for 2016. That's good because, as Search Engine Land notes, the most important ingredient of any strategy is documentation. Brands should enter 2016 with a drafted SEO strategy that highlights their marketing goals for the upcoming year and highlights specific campaigns that will be focused on in pursuit of these goals.
An outlined strategy will help organizations stay focused as they progress through the year, when the normal hectic nature of business might otherwise distract them from their early goals. This documented strategy can be revisited on a quarterly or even monthly basis.
Emphasizing Long-Tail Targeting
Keyword targeting remains important, but in 2016, the emphasis is shifting toward long-tail keywords (three- and four-word-long keywords) that are more nuanced and specific in the types of traffic they drive. Long-tails have gained traction because they are more cost-effective and relevant than many broader keywords, and they can be very efficient in targeting local traffic. Brands shouldn't be afraid to integrate long-tail keywords into their keyword strategy.
Mobilize, Mobilize, Mobilize
Many brands have built out mobile versions of their websites to supplement their desktop sites, and a growing number have transitioned all the way to responsive solutions that handle all platforms through an adaptable website design. Search algorithms are dinging websites that don't accommodate mobile visitors, so you should be switching to a responsive design if you have not done so already.
The best SEO scores are earned through a responsive design. While these were once too expensive for many companies to deploy, responsive solutions have hit the mainstream, and templated responsive solutions are now widely accessible through various online providers.
Build Your Own Influencer
Influencer marketing isn't new, but its impact on SEO will be greater than ever in 2016, according to Forbes. Search algorithms can assess the weight and industry authority of influencers making contributions to your website through author tags, blog post sharing and general engagement with content.
Whether brands bring in an existing influencer or develop their own in-house expert to serve as the influencer face of the company, this sort of presence can be very valuable online. Your SEO scores may improve, and the presence established by an influencer can be an asset that provides residual value well into the future.
Search engine optimization will remain a critical aspect of brand-building as long as traffic is delivered through these sources. Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines aren't going anywhere, so brands should be aggressive in building an SEO-friendly digital presence.