A lot of things can be said about 2015, but a boring year for SEOs it was not. Major shifts in the digital landscape always involve the search engine ranking factors, as they are constantly being adjusted to align with the user behavior. We witnessed the Mobilegeddon update, new quality algorithm, and many other novelties. The next year is approaching and it is shaping up to be even more exciting. So, if you are using the same tools as before, it is time to refocus your activities and rethink your strategy.

A key to success

The importance of keywords research is nothing new and the fundamentals have not changed. A bulk of SEOs uses powerful tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to identify words and phrases that attract internet traffic. Furthermore, it is still necessary to analyze keywords which are already serving this purpose. Note that long-tail keywords are becoming more and more popular because they encompass natural language.

However, something that all marketers must take into account is that the relationship between using keywords and attaining high rankings is not as strong as it used to be. Google now analyzes keywords from the perspective of user’s intent, interest and needs. This means that SEOs must come up with relevant themes and structure the engaging content around them.

The weakest link

Benefits of external links and high-ranking neighbors are still numerous. Just bear in mind that the old school ways of link building are fading away. Today, links should be earned via publishing of high-quality content, not through tactical manipulations and exchanges with other webmasters.  That is why a brand building process is something that brings most valuable links and the same goes for quality blogging.

What really matters is not the sheer amount of links, but the optimization of their structure. Many successful SEO agencies have attempted to develop tools that would help you achieve this, the latest one comes from Four Dots, a digital marketing company. They are launching an advanced link prospecting tool in the form of an SaaS startup, that enables you to filter out search results to avoid sites containing spam and find the most quality link prospects.  Separating the wheat from the chaff like that can make a real difference for you and your website.

Is content still the king?

Shaping your content in a logical is what improves the user experience. A useful, thorough content that delivers real value is still wearing the crown, and naturally ranks well. But, what it also takes is a distribution strategy for your content to gain traction and attract the booming internet community.

Thus, promoting it on social media is just as important, and the main reason is social signals. Although Google stated that it does not see likes, shares and retweets as ranking factors, there is an obvious, albeit indirect link between social media and high ranking.  A content that proves to be sharable tends to amass morel inks, but that is just one aspect of the solid content marketing strategy.

A good friend

On-site SEO is faced with new challenges and pitfalls. Short articles that only scratch the surface are not in the spotlight anymore as Google seems to be encouraging a comprehensive coverage of topics. Keywords have an important role to play, but new actors are entering the scene. The title, header and introduction are growing in importance, and so are internal links. Their number on high-ranking pages has increased since last year, and this trend is likely to continue.

Furthermore, with the launch of a Google’s mobile-friendly algorithm update, there is no doubt where the digital market is headed. Mobile optimization has become one of the crucial ranking factors, applying to mobile searches and individual pages. That is why many SEOs now work on a dedicated mobile site or application, while others engage in developing a responsive design. The website is not only supposed to translate across multiple devices, but also to load quickly, so take advantage of tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights Tool.

Searching for the Holy Grail

There are many new SEO elements that need to be in place in order to establish a strong and recognizable online presence. Short content and high keywords density no longer spur the desired results. SEOs must adjust content creation processes and enable the best user experience possible. Sites lagging behind in key areas such as mobile compliance cannot hope to hit big. All eyes are on the 2016, and it seems that we can almost see new landmark changes in the world of search engines.

Marcus is an IT support professional. He’s running his own business, working with companies that outsource their IT maintenance. He often writes about technology, business and marketing and is a regular contributor on several sites.

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