SEO in 2016 – What You Need to Know
Stephen McCance February 23, 2016
For years now, many have been claiming that SEO is dead and now, at the start of 2016, we’re inclined to agree. SEO is definitely dead…. to those agencies and consultants who don’t evolve and adapt to it’s ever changing requirements and best practices.
Ok, so we twisted the truth a bit there! What’s actually dead is the old school practices and black hat tactics that have been on the way out for so long now, along with all the agencies that have been employing them in a bid to keep things easy. In the last year we have actually seen overwhelming evidence that SEO is just as, if not more important than ever before. But only if you do it properly, and only as part of a wider digital marketing strategy. In 2016, though, it is now increasingly difficult to know what ‘properly’ actually is – especially when it seems to change from one month to the next! Any SEO agency or professional worth their salt will have their finger firmly on the pulse, which is essentially what you’re paying them for.
In a nutshell, SEO has been completely shaken up in the last few years, starting with Google’s game changing algorithm updates, specifically Panda, Penguin and the mobile update, which, by far, had the biggest and hardest hitting impact on the SEO landscape overall. Whilst everyone usually relates these algorithm changes to just page content and links, that is only seeing part of the wider picture and is somewhat of a blinkered view. What both updates have in common is that they both serve to enhance and police a positive user experience. We have also found that Google now seems to be taking into account many other elements of a website that effect the level of ease with which a user can find the information they’re looking for. THIS is now the true nature of SEO.
The importance of having good content ultimately comes down to providing information that a user will want to read, and which will be truly useful to their search query. Not providing content that has been improperly optimised and keyword stuffed to present an artificial front of being related to the search string. More than ever, the content you produce needs to be informative and varied – shake it up a bit, throw in an infographic or something your users can interact with and share around with their friends. Anything other than strong, premium content is not going to serve you well in today’s age of digital.
Whilst link ‘building’ remains a controversial topic, links are still of utmost importance. Again, this has been shifted to a user focussed approach and links have to be relevant and naturally occurring. Essentially, it ties in with great content – ‘build it and they will come’. False or unnatural links have absolutely no place in SEO in 2016, in fact, they haven’t had a part to play for a long while, so it’s high time to give up these poor practices. We really don’t enjoy doing time-consuming link disavow campaigns to clean up other peoples’ mess! It’s time to stop.
The mobile optimisation algorithm basically began penalising websites that don’t present a positive experience for users when browsing on a mobile device. Whilst your site won’t be demoted in listings for not having a good mobile experience, other sites that do will be given preference over yours in mobile results. Last year marked the first occasion where mobile device traffic surpassed desktops, so this move was of primary importance to users. Getting results that were not optimised for mobile was a pain and wasn’t in line with this shifting trend.
With content and links being the main focus of most SEOs, it’s scary to think that the overall common denominator in all Google’s changes seems to be widely neglected. Impeccable user experience is fundamentally what Google are striving for. They have said it time and again, and their focus on this is not going to change, at least in the foreseeable future. Anything results they serve are going to be gauged by this in some way, and any future changes to SEO best practices are, we suspect, going to be centred around enhancing the user experience.
So, whilst SEO is only dead to those who don’t know how to do it properly in ever-changing times, when it’s carried out effectively, with a staunch focus on relevance and importance to the end user, it is still an incredibly powerful online marketing medium that will be around for many years to come….whatever shifting form it may take!