This is going to be a two-part article about equal in size, with Part II coming next week; with so much to cover, we don’t want to overwhelm you or overwhelm ourselves in putting it all together all at once. Topics were ordered in random order, as every different site needs varying amounts of different things.
Many of these ideas are in alignment with Searchmetrics’ 2015 Ranking Factors report; which has placed extra emphasis on optimization for mobile this year.
Perhaps you are using the same SEO techniques and strategies from yesteryear? Or maybe lessons learned from 2010? 2015 was a tumultuous year in the world of SEO. It truly is hard to stay on top of it all. We have witnessed some significant shifts over the past years when it comes to getting your link landing on that coveted first page. Successful ranking optimization doesn’t happen automatically, unless you hire a professional. If you don’t have the time or ability to adapt simultaneously to Google updates and other changes in the world wild web.
Part I of this report will cover much of you will need to know about search ranking optimization in 2016.
A) Keywords within content: Continue to use your site specific set of keywords throughout your content. One thing that likely will never change is the basic fact that proper search keywords you have identified for your site should be implemented smartly into your content; definable in the title, in headers and sub-headers, introduction & conclusion paragraphs. According to the most recent Searchmetrics report, top-ranking pages increased the total set of identifiable keywords integrated into the body of page texts. Keywords are one of the most important ranking factors, but not all of them. You should devote time to understanding the rest of the techniques listed below and in next week’s Part II.
B) Content structure: Properly structuring content in the most logical way possible is good for both rankings and also for user experience. There are a number of ways to iron-out optimal structure for your content:
- * Use un-ordered lists (bulletpoint; <li> tags ) to clearly section the page information into more readable chunks.
- * Utilize internal links in your text to guide both visitors and search engines through relevant content on your site. Use of external links may also be beneficial, since Google considers that as being a good neighbor to similar-themed sites.
Searchmetrics’ 2015 Ranking Factors report goes into more detail on how we can structure our content in order to rank.
C) Mobile-friendliness: Since Google’s “mobile-friendly” update at the beginning of 2015, mobile-friendliness has become an ever bigger ranking factor. It’s no longer enough to optimize for desktop and ignore mobile users. If you haven’t already ensured your site uses a “responsive” (mobile friendly) design; or otherwise you have a dedicated mobile site, or app, in place – keep that agenda item on a sticky note – mobile sites are here to stay. Mobile pages should load even quicker that desktop pages, as they are naturally smaller in size than their desktop twins.
Using bulleted lists can greatly help, as can using slightly larger font sizes.
Google recently announced that more searches happen on mobile devices than on desktop devices; which is hard to believe for some, but easy to believe for others.
E) Site speed & file sizes: These factors are both important for ranking for both mobile and desktop searches. The faster your host, the higher your ranking will float. (4GoodHosting offers the fastest type of hosting possible; SSD hosting). Keep file-sizes, images, videos, etc as small as possible without diminishing proper visibility. Searchmetrics discovered that top-ranking pages loaded with an average of 1.17 seconds for desktop results, and for mobile, 1.2 seconds. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is able to help you figure out how quickly your site is loading; keep in mind this tool only works on a page-by-page analysis, not on a site-wide basis). Pingdom is another similar and reliable tool.
F) Use of <header> & <meta> tags: This is still of critical importance. 99% of Top-10 search results have a meta-description in their pages. 80% use at least 1 <H1> Meta-description help Google and other search engine better know how to list your pages. Also ensure your <H1> tags and descriptions are unique and do accurately describe the principle subject matter of your page.
G) Word counts: Mobile content should be shorter than desktop content. It is just easier more conducive for a person to read more on a larger screen. Word count averages for top-ranking mobile pages in 2015 was 869, compared with 688 the year before. And these numbers are of course far lower than the average content lengths for top-ranking desktop sites viewed. If your site is responsive, you will have to decide on the right balance as the same amount of content will be shown on all devices. According to the report, the average word count for top-ranking content is between 1200-1400 words per page.
Google in the past has shown a preference for more comprehensive content. The figures above is up from 903 words, in 2014. So, when creating content, focus on providing comprehensive coverage of your topic, but as concisely or eloquently as possible. Finding the right balance is key for this ranking factor.