Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of making a website visible to people who search for a certain topic in a search engine, like Google or Yahoo!
Things have changed quite a bit in the last few years, but having a grasp of SEO knowledge is still important for any website’s success.
Here is a list of advice from 10 experts on the best practices for SEO in 2016.
1. Kris Jones – Kick the 404!
Kris Jones has been published by Forbes recently and is considered an expert in the field of SEO. One piece of advice that comes from his Twitter is to eliminate 404 errors on a website.
These errors can discourage users from visiting again and it hurts search engine visibility. One way to do this is to use Google’s analytics to find the problem and fix it. There are also free WordPress plugins that detect broken pages.
Detecting and fixing 404 errors is essential to generating more traffic. That’s because having a lot of 404’s will result in “search penalty” against your site.
Google, like other search engines, want to serve websites that have working web pages.
2. Ann Smarty – Brand it!
Ann Smarty is the founder of MyBlogGuest, and she’s considered an SEO expert. She advises people to make sure their branding is strong: “That’s something you cannot lose due to some algorithm whims, and that’s something that gets you back on your feet after you fall.”
No matter what happens with search rankings and Google algorithms, people will remember a brand, the people and the product behind it. If that part is strong, the other pieces will fall into place.
Brand takes time to develop, but it can have a positive effect on search engine visibility and traffic growth in 2016 onward.
3. Cindy Krum – Clean mobile experience
Cindy Krum is the founder of Mobile Moxie.
She states, “I focus mostly on mobile rankings, but also on making sure that the mobile content does not do anything to jeopardize the desktop rankings.”
It’s important to have a website that is optimized for mobile users, but to not hurt the traditional rankings of the website through desktop search results.
When making design changes to accommodate mobile users, website owners should be careful not to oversimplify the website and lose desktop users, who may have more power on their PC’s and a big viewing area.
Can you think of a few desktop websites that have been oversimplified with ‘mobilization’?
4. Dan Petrovich – Click Through Rate Analysis
Dan Petrovich directs Dejan SEO. He is Australia’s foremost expert on Search Engine Optimization. Dan says, “Click-through rate analysis is one of the most prominent search quality feedback signals in both commercial and academic information retrieval papers.”
A website owner needs to be aware of the CTR or click-through rate. Understanding why a website has a low click-through rate is beneficial: it can reveal subtle flaws on a landing page or during the sales funnel.
Many companies have boasted about the benefits of CTR analysis, using A/B split testing – a testing method where two simple changes are made to a landing page for a set volume of visitors.
The better performing change is used. Then other elements of the landing page go into A/B split testing until the entire page is redesigned to produce a desired goal, like a sale or an email subscription.
5. Jayson DeMers – Keywords in Meta Description
Jayson wrote an article in January of 2015 about search engine keywords and whether they’re still relevant.
He writes, “To this end, the placement of your keywords matters far more than their frequency. Posting ‘auto repair shop’ once in the title tag of your site and once in the header matters far more than stuffing it five times into the body copy.”
While having the keywords of a business in the body of the page’s content is good for search visibility, it’s more important for those keywords to be in the meta description of the page.
Jayson also states, “When Google scans your site for information, it no longer pulls out the keyword phrases it thinks are relevant and pairs them to user queries.”
“Instead, there’s an intermediary step. Google interprets the data on your website, and begins to form its own conclusions about what your site and your business really deliver….”
6. Martin Link – Write Well
In his article, “4 SEO Tactics to Embrace in 2015,” Martin writes, “With Hummingbird, Google [company] proved that they now understand what your page is about; they know the topic of the page, how unique the content is, and how well it’s written.”
Write better, original content and format it for readability. It can improve the length of stay on a web page and consequently improve search engine visibility and traffic.
7. Nick Schäferhoff – Share on Social Media
Nick is a blogger, WordPress enthusiast, and online marketing expert. In 2015, he wrote an article titled “The Best WordPress SEO Plugins and Tools for 2015.” He writes that one of the keys to SEO is social media.
The plugin ShareThis works well to that end: “ShareThis lets your visitors spread your content to 120 different social channels, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Email is also supported.”
While it may be easy to set up social media accounts, maintaining them is another labor altogether. If you don’t fancy sharing to social media, find one way that suits your business and do it consistently – whether that is a single image-Facebook update per month, or 3 image tweets per week.
It’s quality content (especially with images) that will interest and foster return visits, retweets, bookmarking and “word of mouth”.
8. Harsh Agrawal – Use SEO plugins
Agrawal says that Yoast’s WordPress SEO is a great plugin to use to ensure your website is search engine ready. Add a meta description for the homepage, for single posts, create a sitemap xml, edit the robots.txt and .htaccess, and control indexing of your blog.
Advanced SEO users can learn how to prevent Google from indexing certain pages, thereby reducing some duplicate content that may actually harm search engine visibility and rankings.
Conversely, including certain page types in indexing may assist overall search visibility.
9. Rand Fishkin – Be an active community blogger
Rand Fishkin writes, “For the first 5 years of SEOmoz’s marketing efforts, I doubt I spent [$200] on anything — just blogged, participated in communities, produced some interesting one-off content …”
He recommends that this is the best way to get started with a small business. Instead of spending money to promote or grow his website, his focus was on creating quality content, participation in communities on the web and being a regular blogger.
10. Trond Lyngbo – Make software purchases meaningfully
Trond Lyngbo writes, “Make sure that anything you buy — whether it’s a CMS, a web analytics platform, or a PPC management solution — will help you achieve your marketing goals.” It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of any purchase made to enhance SEO.
When it comes to subscribing to SEO research platforms or social media marketing suites, it’s good to consider the pros and cons for your website business.
Search is rapidly changing, but some things have stayed the same; sharing good quality content with online communities, reducing broken web pages, making careful refinements to design and ensuring a clean web page experience all are mainstays. They add up to a better result that Google, Bing and Yahoo will all want to serve their users.
If you would like your website to flourish, watch and learn from regular bloggers who produce consistently high quality content. Then apply effort to product good quality content at a pace that is good for you and your website.