5 Things That Really Matter for SEO in 2016

Anyone who has ever typed “SEO” or “search engine optimization” into a search engine can easily tell you about the overwhelming amount of information, tips, recommendations and how-to’s that you’ll find.

That is not to mention the fact that search engine algorithms are constantly being updated, and what was true just weeks ago may now be outdated.

As 2016 is now well under way, there are a few things all SEO content writers and strategists should definitely be focusing on for this year’s SEO strategy.

1. Site Speed

Did you know that 40% of consumers will bounce off of a site that takes longer than 3 seconds to load? Site speed has been an official ranking signal for Google since 2010, and it shows.

seo tips
Image source: Reliablesoft

Most websites that enjoy top Google SERP rankings have a page load speed of less than 2 seconds.

If your concerned about your site’s loading speed, you can check your site and get helpful suggestions for improvement by using Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

2. In-Depth, Comprehensive Topical Content

Google’s Hummingbird Algorithm update entirely changed the way Google search engines look at content. Where it used to determine the topic of content by keywords alone, it can now understand the topic.

Now, when we type in a question such as, “Who played in Spiderman 3”, Google understands that we are looking for actors in the movie Spiderman 3 and provides us with an answer.

Need more convincing? Check out what the SEO experts at Moz have to say on the topic.

3. Long-Form Content

Gone are the days when 200-300 words of content constituted a good length. Now, the average Google first page result has approximately 1,890 words.

Numerous studies now show that pages with long-form content tend to rank significantly better than others.

There could be many reasons behind this: it generates more social media shares, it’s a preference of Google’s, it boosts topical relevancy or it just shows that site owners prefer to publish excellent content.

Image source: serpIQ
Image source: serpIQ

Whatever the reason, Google search results rank long-form content higher than short-form content.

Crowd Content writers are often utilized for their ability to write in-depth, search engine optimized, comprehensive articles that Google loves.

4. Bounce Rates

While you may not have thought about it before, other than to sigh over the amount of lost traffic, bounce rates may be having a major impact on your website ranking.

When your visitors are bouncing off of your website like kids on a pogo stick, Google seems to take this as a clear message that people do not like your content or it is not relevant for the keyword searched for.

While Google has denied that bounce rate is a determining factor in website rankings in the past, recent studies show a strong correlation.

seo tips from the pros
Image source: Quicksprout

5. Backlinks

While you may have heard that backlinks are no longer important, this is simply not true. The truth is that they are still VERY important, however, they are being measured a bit differently than they have been in the past.

In a recent study performed by Backlinko, they found that not only was there a strong correlation between backlinks and page rank, but also between unique referring domains.

In other words, it’s better to have backlinks from a wide variety of domains, instead of just a few.

Image source: Backlinko
Image source: Backlinko

“In fact, the number of unique referring domains was the strongest correlation in our entire study.”

– Brian Dean, Backlinko

In addition, the same study also found that a site’s link authority is strongly correlated to higher rankings. You can improve your site’s link authority using the Moz Open Site Explorer.

Regardless of your 2016 SEO strategy, these 5 things could ultimately be the difference between success and failure for your website.

The ultimate takeaway from the constantly updated algorithms of Google and other search engines is that quality is the ultimate driving factor.

Please use the comments section below to let me know if you have any other tips and tricks or general remarks on the topic.

Posted in SEO
Lola Decker

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Lola Decker first discovered her love of written language as a young child. Throughout the years her thirst for knowledge has led her to obtain an Associates degree in Early Childhood Development and Education, and her current pursuits of becoming a content marketing expert.

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auntieemily
Guest
auntieemily

Oh my, yes, sites need to be quick to load. If not, I am gone. Who’s with me?

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

I’m not waiting several minutes for a site to load. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

auntieemily
Guest
auntieemily

I have to say, just waiting for my comments to load on here is bad enough for me. Very frustrating.

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

It does tend to take a while.

auntieemily
Guest
auntieemily

It does. I find it hard to wait on it.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

But isn’t it worth it when you see it published?

auntieemily
Guest
auntieemily

It is. I just wish that it would load faster.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

Sometimes it drives me crazy. I don’t want to complain too much since this site is a legitimate one in an ocean of con jobs, but the delay can be quite maddening.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

If they do have time for that, they have better ways to spend that time than waiting for a site to load.

Bethany A.
Guest
Bethany A.

I couldn’t agree more!

Lola Decker
Guest
Lola Decker

One of the best ways that I have found to determine user-friendliness is looking at my own preferences. I might wait longer than 3 seconds for a website to load, especially if it is something that I am really interested in, but definitely no longer than 1-2 minutes max. I have honestly shut thousands of tabs after about 20-30 seconds of not loading.

auntieemily
Guest
auntieemily

Whoa… I would not be patient enough to wait 20-30 seconds even. I just can’t do it. I expect internet to be instant.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

It sounds like Internet is getting near that point. If you need a page load speed of less than two seconds to be successful, making somebody wait 20-3o seconds is basically professional suicide.

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

It is. It makes me frustrated beyond belief and it’s enough for me to hit that back button. For anyone who lived with dial-up for years, it makes you feel like you’re back in that age.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

Are there many sites that you’re willing to wait 1-2 minutes for?

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

I wouldn’t. I lived through the early 90s Internet, and I don’t intend to do so again.

Lola Decker
Guest
Lola Decker

Honestly, not many. If I actually wait that long, chances are that it is a site I regularly use or have used before. If it is a new, never-before-visited site, then nah, I’m outta here.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

That makes sense. At least with those sites you know you’re waiting for something you like. With unfamiliar sites waiting is just a waste of time.

hemuller
Guest
hemuller

I am a bit surprised by the long-form content significance. It does, however, make sense when you think about it. The structure of the site and the quality of the content need to be excellent for long-form content to be effective. You do not want to increase the bounce rate.

auntieemily
Guest
auntieemily

Very true. If you want the content to help out the site, it needs to be high in quality and something that users want to see.

Georgia Potts
Guest
Georgia Potts

I’m glad that long-form content is ranking better. I used to be tasked with writing 200-word posts that I seriously questioned the judgement behind. Today’s clients, however, seem to have a better understanding of the need for the thorough coverage of a topic.

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

It’s basically impossible to write anything of value when limited to 200 words. Keeping a piece concise is great, but not when it requires leaving out vital information to meet some arbitrary limit.

Natalya Ward
Guest
Natalya Ward

Faster loading speeds and responsive design are two major factors, but not what most people think about with SEO. Today’s strategies go far beyond keywords. You’ve picked out what really matters and it’s something any site owner needs to keep in mind. I think staying current on Google’s latest algorithm changes are also a good idea to see what the latest SEO trends will be.

Natasha E
Guest
Natasha E

Ugh, I really need to work on my site speed! I have just finished compressing the images on my site, but I know that I have a lot of work to do! 🙁

Earl Dotson
Guest
Earl Dotson

Have you been able to improve your site speed since you first posted that comment?

Linnea S.
Guest
Linnea S.

Site loading speed can be somewhat mysterious. Once I took all of my small site’s content and simply moved it to a different free template, and it loaded much faster. However, it was annoying that I didn’t understand why it improved.

melissann
Guest
melissann

This is GREAT. Now I wish I could learn how to create infographics. They seem so useful to content, eye catching, and offer so much information to the visitor.

Tay H
Guest
Tay H

I agree! The chances of me waiting an extended amount if time for loading is slim to none unless it is something I regularly use or absolutely need.

Bethany A.
Guest
Bethany A.

I’m sure all of this is still important this year. Great read!

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