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Key Factors for SEO ranking in 2016

April 15, 2016

Search Engine Optimization is not rocket science. The old adage of “build it and they will come” turns into the following for SEO, “Build it well with Great Content and people will link to it, and the Search Engines will come and index your content”.
Following are the key factors that will get your website to the top of the rankings … and keep it there.
1/ Mobile
Once Google feels that your site is mobile optimized, it gives you a mobile friendly accreditation
Last year, Google announced that more searches occur on mobile than on desktop. You have to optimized. To reinforce the importance of mobile, Google is  now giving credit to sites that are optimized with a ‘mobile friendly’ message in the search results. Most local searches are done on smartphones so if you are a local business, changing your website to mobile optimized could be the most important thing you do this year. This doesn’t just mean having a responsive website. User have different interactions with sites on their phone than they do with your desktop site. Some examples could be increasing the size or changing the placement of your telephone number making it easier for them to call you, increasing the size of any buttons or navigation, or making forms easier to fill out.
2/ Social Signals
We believe that Social Signals, including Facebook “Likes”, Twitter “Tweets”, and Google “+” connected to your site, make up almost 30% of a domains ranking. Interactions with Facebook, Twitter & Google + are a must. Make content as easy as possible to share across your social sites and for users to interact with you. Be active on Social Media and make sure people have the ability to check in with your business if you have a true ‘bricks and mortar’ store. Remember that each check-in and/or “like” is free advertising and a chance to build loyalty.
Make sure your social share tags are on your webpages, and they should be unique. If someone wants to share a page on Facebook from your site, the sharer gets to add a comment but the rest of the information, including an image is grabbed from the page. The social share tags let you determine what the information looks like.
3/ Site Health
No one performs at their best when they are not feeling well. Same for your website. Speed of the site is becoming an increasing factor with Google as it pivots more to mobile. Google provides tools that can check your site speed of your site which you should monitor on a regular basis. Also, continually check the tools that are available through your Google Search Console (formerly called Webmaster Tools) to see if there are errors related to pages not found, time out errors or problems with your sitemap. If you do not have a Search Console account, it is a free service provided by Google that only requires a small piece of code to be placed on the first page of your website. Google provides this service so it expects the users to be active using the service so if you see an error and resolve the issue, you can go in and make the error as resolved.
4/ Content
Content is still king. If you are writing articles or blogs for your site, don’t stretch it out to be longer than it needs to be but as a rule of thumb 1000 word articles are better than 300-500 word articles.  If you go longer than 1000 words, think if the post can be split up to two different posts.
Remember 5 great 1000 word blogs are better than 20 irrelevant 300 word ones.
5/ Link Quality
Link quality has always been, and continues to be, a critical ranking factor for websites. Having relevant links from authoritive sites with a high quality Domain ranking remains critical.
Example: While having a link to Ten Golden Rules from a local landscaping business is a link, it is not a relevant link. (Unless it is a link in the context of how Ten Golden Rules helped grow their business twofold)
Continually check your backlinks to ensure they are from relevant sites. If you have links from questionable sites such as gambling or Viagra sites, work to remove them. Monitor the anchor text used and ensure it is as varied as your link profile. If you have the chance, request the anchor text (the text that becomes the link to the site) uses the relevant keywords that are on the destination page. Also, deep linking shows that you have a deep site with content not just on the home page. The deeper someone links into your site, the better.
Finally, if you want your business to rank locally, your main link building efforts should be from other local businesses and sites. So unless you do business nationally, link building locally is better.
6/ Structured Data –
Structured Data helps Google determine “exactly” what the keywords and information on your site is. The Google Bots are smart but sometimes they need help determining on a page which of the words on a page are a product, how much it is, or who authored an article. You may need the services of a developer to implement this if you have a large site but for smaller sites, in your Search Console account under Search Appearance has an area called Data Highlighter. It allows you to select a page and highlight elements on the page and wrap the appropriate elements in the applicable structured data codes.
One final note on ranking factors. It is so simple yet time again, I see pages that have incorrect or missing Meta Information.
The following Meta info is standard for all sites and all pages.
All Meta Tags need to be unique and relevant to the Content on that individual page

  • Title Tag – 50-60 characters long.
  • Description – 150-160 characters long.
  • Meta Keywords – 3-5 and relevant to the page (less relevant these days but still should be added
  • <h1> tags – Only 1 <h1> per page. 2-3 words in the tag max. Should be main keyword phrase for that page. Use H2 tags for sub headings to reinforce a key word

Pay attention to these items and watch your website slowly climb up the rankings.