Episode 41 - SEO Tips for 2016

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is constantly changing. In this episode, we discuss the top SEO tips for 2016. If you haven't looked at the rules for a while, you might be shocked to see how much things have changed in the past few years. We look at two major categories that affect your ranking: technology and content.

Announcement: Jeff and Kristin will be presenting at Launch Out St. Louis on July 22 and 23, 2016. The workshop is titled "Stop the Excuses: Building the business of your dreams." If you are interested in coming to see us, use the code ingram16 to save $25 on your conference ticket. If you are going to the conference, give us a shout out on Twitter @SBLPodcast, or post in the Facebook group.

SEO in 2016 is about user experience

In the past, the focus of SEO was short posts, keywords, and lots of graphics. In 2016, the search engines are getting smarter, and therefore they expect your content to be smarter. If you think you can just write short posts packed with keywords and hope your posts will do well, think again. There are two distinct categories to pay attention to when crafting your SEO strategy: technology and content. 

Technology to improve SEO

How your website functions is more important than ever. Here are some of the most important technological factors when trying to improve your SEO rankings:

Page speed

People do not have patience for slow pages and the search engine results reflect that trend. Your page must load fast. In Episode 35, we discussed how to check your page speed using Pagespeed Insights by Google. The site will give you suggestions for things to do to improve your page speed. If you are using WordPress, you can install a plugin to fix this.

Mobile friendliness

More people are viewing the internet on their mobile devices than on laptops and PCs, according to a 2016 study by comScore. Last year, Google began penalizing websites that were not mobile friendly in its search results. You must make sure that your page has a responsive theme that adapts for mobile. In addition, you need to make sure that your site has most of the same functionality on mobile. It is frustrating for users who cannot do everything they need to on the mobile version of your website.

Broken links and broken images

Links you include on your site affect your page rank. Broken links will hurt your Make sure all the links and images on your websites are still working. The web is constantly changing, so you need to check to make sure external links still work. There are plugins that will do this for you. You can also search for websites that will look for broken links on your site.

Don't forget site SEO

If you have content in previous posts that is relevant to your current post, make sure to link the previous post into your current post. That will allow the search engines to determine what you think is the best and most relevant content on your site. The more you link to a post on your own site, the better it is for SEO. Just make sure that the link is relevant to the current post. If it is not, you might actually get dinged in the search rankings.

When creating internal links, use the feature inside Wordpress. When you click the hyperlink button (looks like a chain link), click the settings button to expand the box. You now have the option to search your old posts, and link your content directly. This will reduce the chance that you get a broken link within WordPress, should you ever move or re-brand your site. The graphic below shows the insert link window when it is expanded. You can use it to search for content or just click and old post to add the link.

Have quality referral links

When we started blogging in 2008, every blog had a list of their favorite blogs. People would get together and trade web links. Search engines are now looking for quality links. It is more important now to have your content used as a source in an article, rather than just a link in a side bar. Search engines also look at the page rank of the sites that link back to your site. Official sites like government and educational websites rank higher than other sites, so if you can get a link on a .gov or .edu site, that will help your search ranking.  

Guest posts on other sites, especially larger sites that are well respected, help your rankings. Google also likes when your links appear on one of its properties. If you share your new posts on Google+, your posts will becoming indexed faster. If you have a YouTube channel, link relevant content or a general website link in the descriptions of all of your videos. Just make sure that your YouTube videos are relevant to your website. A viral kitten video will not help the page ranking for your business focused website.

Using SEO Yoast to help with SEO

One of the members of our Facebook group asked if the SEO Yoast plugin for WordPress is still relevant. It may not get 1 million viewers to your website, but it is very helpful in many key areas that are important for page ranking. It will measure readability of the post, keyword density, how many links you have in your post, and many other things. Like everything else in business, you want to keep up on the trends and make sure that you are following the most up-to-date trends. One of the new features in Yoast helps grade your writing, including how often you use passive voice, sentence complexity, paragraph length, and length of content between headings. It is an awesome feature.

Claim your Google Business Profile

If you have a local business, make sure to claim your Google Business Profile. This profile is what people will typically see first if they search for you business. Claiming your profile allows you to set your location, phone number, hours, website, and photos for your business. Many of my clients had issues with incorrect phone numbers or missing websites before they claimed their listing. Don't allow this to happen to you. When you do this, it will also index your local business into Google Maps so people can find your local business.

Do not buy or sell backlinks

Buying backlinks to your site will hurt your rankings. Commenting on lots of sites with backlinks to your site will not help your rankings anymore. The search engines have become too smart for that. Writing for other sites that will allow you to link to your site will be much more helpful. It helps you create authority for your site.

Content and SEO

The trend for 2016 is longer posts, more external links, and more valuable content. 

Longer posts

According to an article in Entrepreneur magazine, the top posts in the rankings have approximately 2,000 words.  The old rule was 300 to 500 words. This is a huge change for many writers. You still want to use short paragraphs and headings to break up your content, according to the AMA. Search engines are looking for comprehensive content, rather than quick overviews. We have said many times that you want to provide value, and the search engines agree.

Minimize your bounce rate with good content

Bounce rate is the percentage of times that someone comes to your site, and then returns to the search results. Search engines interpret this to mean that you did not answer the visitor's question. High bounce rates lower your search rankings. Make sure your posts are comprehensive. Make sure your title accurately describes the content. Make sure you use subheadings to break up content, and make it easier for a visitor to find the information they are looking for. These strategies will help you create content that reduces your bounce rate.

Quality trumps frequency

Five years ago, we were told that you must publish frequently to stay relevant in the search engines. This is no longer the case. Search engines are looking for quality and authority on subjects. Save shorter content for your email list or social media, and don't post repetitive reminders on your site. It is better to write fewer, well-developed posts, than to write a lot of short posts. Therefore, you may want to take the time you would have spent to write a weekly post, and develop a monthly long-form post.

Link to your quality research

While most people do research when writing content, many do not link those sources in their blog posts. Linking authoritative sources in your content shows that you have done your research, and you will be rewarded for it by the search engines. It may seem counter-intuitive because you are sending people off your site, but it shows your reader that you have thought out and researched this topic before posting.

When doing research, bookmark all the articles you find. As you are writing your posts, place the URL in the post and create the links later. Many writers, especially those who like to write posts in word before putting them in WordPress, find this helpful. If you write posts directly into WordPress, create your links as you are writing.

Use unique images

Search engines can now search images. If you use stock images that are used by 2,000 other people, it could hurt your page ranking. Adding text to stock images does count as a unique image. You can also take your own pictures.

Do not stuff your content with keywords

Do not hide text on your page; that will kill your site rankings. You want to make sure you are using your keyword sparingly. Google now looks for related words, as well, to rank your page. They use this to weigh the relevancy of your content. Therefore, you do not need to worry about using the same term over and over again to ensure high ranking. Let your content flow naturally and use related terms. If you are discussing WordPress in a post, you might talk about plugins and themes. Google is now starting to look at those related terms to measure how helpful your post will be to potential visitors.

Focus on a single topic and narrow your scope

Each post should have one topic. Try to narrow your topic. Rather than writing a post about social media tips, write a post on Facebook tips or Facebook page tips. The more you narrow your focus, the more value you provide. This also gives you an opportunity to write future posts on Twitter tips, or Facebook group tips.  Make sure that each post has at least five takeaways to provide value to your readers.

You can reuse your content

This was a huge no-no when we first started blogging. You can reuse content by tweaking it a bit. Brendon Burchard is so good at this. See how you can reuse your content to decrease your content calendar, or increase your reach, by sharing on other sites.

Promote your existing content

Sometimes we get so focused on developing new content, we forget to promote the content we already have. You want to make sure that you do not spam your content into 90 groups on the same day, because Facebook is starting to penalize people who do that. We use Nozbe to remind us to post new content around the web, and Edgar to re-post our old content on our social media channels. When you produce evergreen content, it stays relevant. Why not share it out again? Not everyone who follows you will see it the first time you post it. As your social media following grows, new people need to see your old content again. 

Are you shocked?

Are any of these changes shocking to you? Which of these items do you plan to implement this week?

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