Google has been busy updating and replacing algorithms over the past few years, so if you have not been following closely, you may be lost. With so many changes, even if you have been following closely, you may still be lost. There are several factors that have been left unchanged, but there are just as many that have been altered dramatically. SEO specialists and non-SEO professionals have all had to take a close look at their websites to ensure they are properly optimized for all the changes that have occurred, and the ones that are coming.
Below are 9 essential on-page SEO elements that need implemented on your site for 2016.
1. Fresh and Exciting Content Frequently Updated on a Blog or Website
If you want to see a major increase in traffic to your site, start a blog. Having excellent content updated frequently on your blog is an essential way to build your brand, publish content and grow your audience, all while establishing yourself as an authority in a specific field.
Use custom images, create content that is useful and that helps to answer a question, and most importantly, post daily.
Google has shifted directions on how they present search results, mainly because people have shifted direction in how they search. One of the major shifts that have been noticed is the need for a specific question to be answered by searchers. The days of inputting several random keywords into the search bar are over; people are now asking entire questions of the major search engine. So, if you do not have the answers, do not expect to be displayed in the top search results or in the search results at all.
2. Get Social
Google began allowing non-Google social media platforms to be featured within its search engine result pages (SERP’s) back in 2014, so now looking ahead to 2016, it is crucial to get socially connected.
The demise of Google+ and Google authorship has opened up the doors for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media platforms to offer a boost to rankings for many website owners. Social signals are a huge thing already, but with the door opened by Google, and many more doors about to be blown off, expect it to get even bigger.
3. Content Keywords
There has been a huge debate over whether or not keywords in content are still important or not. The fact remains, keywords are important, but they are losing value over content quality.
Good copywriting practices include an even flow of properly integrated keywords. Stay away from creating content around a keyword, instead create quality content that is relevant to your topic and the keywords should flow naturally throughout the article. Your main goal is to attract human attention, but you still have to focus on search engine attention to make that happen, so write accordingly.
4. Create Longer Content
Google has shifted attention away from short blog posts and keyword-based short articles to a meatier and more in-depth style of content. If you have noticed a drop in the search engine rankings lately, it may be due to your content length. The standard length is 1,000 words, but 1,500 are recommended for high rankings in the in-depth search section of Google.
5. Topical Targeting
Instead of optimizing a webpage for one or two keywords, create your entire site to surround a specific topic or theme. This allows your pages to be optimized for various keywords, opening many more opportunities for SEO.
User-experience has been proven to be enhanced by a well-organized and properly optimized site. Readers find a topically targeted webpage much more enjoyable and easy to navigate, while it also attracts more inbound links and increases the chances of content being shared.
6. Optimized URLs
When optimizing your URLs, there are a few factors that can help:
- Words separated by dashes or hyphens
- Maximum 100 characters in length
- No more than 3 subdirectories
- Include location based keywords in URLS to be ranked locally
- Add product numbers or tracking at the end of e-commerce URL
7. Effective Title Tags
Title tags are one of the most critical factors for good SEO. For 2016, the importance of title tags has increased, so make sure they are properly optimized. The title tag is the clickable text that is displayed in the search results, so make sure it is enticing to the reader. Make sure the keyword you use is included naturally as well as strategically. It is important that your content be displayed in the top search results, but without something appealing to the reader it will never be clicked.
When using your company name in the title tag, make sure it is at the end, not the beginning. Keep it under 65 characters and include local keywords if you are using them.
8. Proper Heading Tags
Google uses your heading tags as a way to decipher your page and determine what it is all about. Every page should have its own heading tag and it should include the main topic of your page. Your H1 tag should be the very first element on your page, and can even become your title tag depending on what CMS software you are using.
Long chunks of content should be broken up with relevant headers to help your readers scan for information they need, and will help Google establish the progression of your content.
Never force the use of keywords in your heading tags, only use keywords in your header tags when it naturally makes sense to do so.
9. Optimized Alt Image Tags
Only use keywords in your alt image tags when it makes sense, do not force them in. Alt image tags help to rank your content in the search engines, but also should work as a description for the visually impaired viewers who happen upon your site.
The text should be relevant to the image. If your keywords are not naturally working with your images, you may need to rethink the images you are using.
Be as descriptive as possible. The text should explain the image for even those who cannot see it, after all Google is highly efficient, but it still is unable to actually see.
10. Mobility is Key
Ensuring you have a mobile-friendly website will ensure a successful future. Mobile users have increased dramatically over the last several years, and in the upcoming years ahead, it is predicted to continue its increase. As more and more people turn to their smartphones, tablets or other mobile devices for Internet searches, GPS, social networking, and purchasing, the old desktop pages will resemble a VCR.
You need to switch to a responsive design, so when a user lands on your page, no matter how they got there, it will be presented in an easy to navigate fashion.
- Keep plenty of white space to avoid fat thumb clicks
- Make content large enough to read
- Ensure the backgrounds are not drowning out text
- Keep it simple and easy to navigate with call-to-actions easy to see
Think about how often you use your phone for the Internet….
11. Secure Your Website
HTTPS technology offers an additional layer of security for your website and its users that people are beginning to expect. Whenever a purchase is made, or any type of personal information transferred onto a website, that HTTPS makes the user feel safe and secure, and it also helps your SEO.
In 2014, Google announced that the HTTPS would be used as a ranking factor – so you’ve had plenty of time to get up to speed on this, but if you haven’t done it yet – do it now!
There are many elements that have not really changed much in 2016, but still many that have. It is more important than it has even been that SEO specialists and web masters take note of what Google requires when it comes to on-page optimization. The days of using tricks or black hat SEO methods for quick results are long gone, and the new age of high quality content that is human-generated has begun.
If you want to rank high in the search engine results, you have to supply the most valuable and highest content for the viewers, as well as the search engines.