With the dawn of a new year and new and unexpected challenges on the horizon – and lots of big ROI goals to hit – now is the perfect time to think about your SEO efforts for the coming year.
Top SEO Insights for 2016 was Lindex’s first SEO Now webinar of 2016. I was joined by Daniel Bianchini, Director of Services, White.net, and Chris Hart, Head of Client Development, U.S., Linkdex, who provided an insightful overview and lots of ideas for how brands and businesses can win more traffic, customers, and revenue through SEO in 2016.
The webinar began with Bianchini recapping a few of the biggest developments in SEO over the past several months before sharing three tactics to future proof your SEO in 2016 and beyond, which were:
- Become obsessed with user-focused content. Create content for the moment by truly understanding your audience and what stage of the user journey they are at. Reuse or repurpose your great content. Use it to differentiate your brand.
- Provide search engines with context. This includes marking up your site with schema and figuring out ways your content can be featured as rich answers.
- Ensure you are equipped for mobile. Understand when people are using different devices. Make sure your mobile experience is FAST or you’ll lose impatient users.
We then took a deeper dive into these, and other key elements SEOs need to address in 2016 to succeed. Two clear overarching themes emerged: don’t chase Google, chase your audience; and make sure you provide value to your customers or audience.
Customer-centricity, creating amazing user experiences, the inevitable convergence of mobile/apps/desktop into one brand experience, understanding the entire consumer journey, smart usage of data, and technical SEO will all be among the most crucial elements to get right in 2016.
Thanks to everyone who joined us live. If you missed it, or want to listen again, you can watch the webinar recording now:
We’ve also embedded Dan’s slides from the webinar:
We received several questions during the webinar. Dan and Chris were kind enough to provide their answers to those here:
Q: Personal assistants — is it just relevant for B2C or also for B2B?
Dan: I think this very much depends on your audience. However, unless there is considerable cost associated to your implementation why wouldn’t you do it? As more people use personal assistants (it’s growing) and search using mobile, the smarter this applications will become and start to automate what you see. As I mentioned in the presentation, I never actually set the app to being in any of the content shown, but it was based on my search preferences across all my devices. This does require you to be signed into Google, or other but when are you not?
Chris: PAs are good for both B2B and B2C. The rule of seven is an old marketing adage, which states, “A prospect needs to see / hear your message at least seven times before they remember it.” So why not use PAs to your advantage in order to get your lead through the Know –> Trust –> Like cycle.
For example: A lead may be very busy at work and see marketing messages as very intrusive. But if they are on a train while commuting home, they may be more open to receiving messaging. So why not help them get that message via PAs?
Q: Is Google clever enough to know my site is responsive via a fluid layout (i.e., I don’t have a dedicated mobile site)? Is that OK?
Dan: Yes. There are three ways that Google has indicated that they see mobile websites, and I would suggest that this fits within the responsive category although I am speculating based on the question. The three formats that Google have provided are shown below:
- Responsive design <— Google recommended
- Dynamic Serving
- Separate URL (m.)
To help determine whether Google classes your website as mobile-friendly, you can check the following tools:
Q: What about keywords, what are the changes around keyword usage and optimization? How to look at keyword organic traffic in the semantic search era? How to optimize for semantic search?
Dan: You should be optimizing around topics and not just individual keywords. Similar to how in AdWords you would build a list of keywords for a particular ad group. This set of keywords then allow you to create content around a topic that provides your user with more detailed information. These topics should then be used as part of your content strategy, which will identify which content should be used at each stage of the buying cycle.
Chris: Keywords should be used to help develop and structure content around topics. It is not the pure use of the keyword that matters. It is the relevance of that keyword to the topic and article it is part of. Along with all of the other supporting articles on the site and the contextual references from linking sites.
For example: Intent is an understanding of what is being looked for. But context is the meaning of everything that surrounds a search.
Look for machine learning to have significant and continued impact on this in the near future (i.e., RankBrain).
Q: Backlinks — which are the best practices about link building and using anchor text in 2016?
Dan: You want to increase the number of backinks your website gets? Build great content or digital assets that are worth linking to.
(For a more detailed discussion about links, listen to the webinar.)
Q: You mentioned schemas for search engines. Can you explain a little further?
Chris: Your best bet is to use them where applicable so that you can get the most relevant info to a query in the SERP. Remember users glance through piles of information, give them something to glace at.
Dan: Search engines read content on the pages, but it doesn’t necessarily give any context as what it is. The Hummingbird update and schema has helped search engines to get more clarity to what is being displayed. Schemas for search engines can be used in multiple different ways HTML5 & JSON-LD just two that I mentioned, and are snippets of code that surround specific parts of your website content.
A very simple example would be pricing. You’d wrap the price of your product in schema, which will be picked up by search engines and likely displayed within the search engine result pages.
There are many resources on schema, but the two that I always point to are:
If you’re looking for information or testing tools on implementation, then I would recommend the following:
Q: Does Google use as ranking signal – when visitors keep coming back to your website?
Chris: To say yes or no to this, would be giving you an answer that I just do not have any way of knowing. But what I can assume is, that given Google’s visibility and ability to tag/track understand users, at some point I would think that they can. If they do that is one thing, but also know, understanding the weighted value they put on such a thing is another. So while they might use it, there is no way to tell the value of that signal alone.
Dan: On an ongoing basis? Then I would say no. However, if a sudden surge of people were searching for a specific website using a certain query then I’d expect and have seen a short term increase in rankings for that website.
I have seen some experiments that Rand over at Moz has conducted where he has sent a lot of social traffic to a certain search phrase and then select a specific website. This has then seen an increase in position for that term, although on a very temporary basis.
Q: About AMP pages, we have LTE as standard offer so we have fast connection in here Vienna, anyway connections are getting faster and faster so why do we need AMP? As I understand AMP will look like page from ’90s.
Chris: As talked about on the webinar AMP may not be for everyone. So it is important to know if it is for you and to do that you need to understand what it is for. It is Google’s answer to instant articles in Facebook and or Apple news. AMP is designed to accelerate the rendering of pages for a user’s mobile experience, it is largely designed for publishers.
Also, it is a counter measure to the acceleration of ad blockers. If many people are blocking AdSense ads via an ad blocker then the publisher and Google do not make money. Google will use AMP to get around the ad blockers.
Dan: Google will continue to provide resources to improve websites as part of their mission to improve the web. This doesn’t however mean that it is something that you need to implement if you think that your website speed is good enough.
Michael King has written a very good post on improving site speed by using one piece of code -
Q: Do you have any optimization tips for industries that are very competitive, but quite conservative and regulated when it comes to their content?
Chris: During the webinar we suggested that companies develop separate standalone sites that are outside the rules of regulations and are more focused on engagement / conversation with members of that industries communities.
Dan: If you do decide to go down building a content platform for your brand, understand that it takes time to gain traction. Put everything that you have into and you keep going so that it is a success. It’s easy to get down about the traction you are gaining, but just keep going!
This Econsultancy post provides some information on ideas for the finance industry.
Q: One of my clients has a blog post that’s gotten more traffic than others, and I want to reuse it. Is it accurate that Google doesn’t like content that looks like a copy/repeat of something else? So if I make a few changes to update it, does that mean I should delete the previous (original) post so it doesn’t look like a copy?
Dan: Many different ways that this can be handled. I’d suggest that you check out the webinar for more in-depth responses but in short:
- Republishing isn’t an issue if it’s valid and useful.
- If you copy it to another URL then you’d want to implement canonical tags.
- When creating content think about whether it can be used again, will it be evergreen. Then you can really think about the URLs that you are using.
- Check the webinar. :)
Thanks to Dan and Chris for these answers!
For more thoughts on where search is heading in 2016, be sure to check out SEO Trends: 44 Experts on the Future of Organic Search Success on Momentology.
What do you want to see in upcoming Linkdex webinars? Suggest a topic! Tweet us at @linkdex. We look forward to hearing your suggestions and bringing you the topics you want to hear about.