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There is incredible value in consistency.

Why change something that continues to produce results?

This is true to a certain extent but there are also times where it can be downright risky. Search engine optimization is a perfect example. Many practices that were once highly effective now put your site at considerable risk of incurring a ranking penalty.

Some examples include:

  • Stuffing content repeatedly with keywords
  • Building excessive links with the same anchor text
  • Over-optimizing on-page factors (e.g. titles, tags, etc.)

Surprisingly, many of these practices actually worked for a time.

Until Google implemented major updates to its algorithm to penalize sites engaged in such manipulative tactics. The days of ranking a keyword focused page with some links are long gone. Now the landscape is much more competitive as the search giant continues to incorporate seismic changes.

A survey from Moz on the future of search notes how the following ranking factors will increase in impact next year:

  • Mobile friendliness: 88%
  • Perceived value of a page: 81%
  • Quality of instant answers: 79%

SEO is a multifaceted field that continues to undergo massive changes. It’s simply not enough to publish content and build links to those pages, and expect rankings to quickly rise. Now it’s more important than ever for businesses to focus on the whole user experience.

To stay competitive online it might be time to reevaluate your marketing strategy. Here we look at two major SEO strategies to focus your attention on for better rankings and results.

1. Optimize For Mobile
It no longer needs to be said: Mobile is absolutely critical.

Traffic on mobile devices has now overtaken traffic on desktops in many countries including the US. Google released a major update that affects global search results on mobile devices to account for this change in usage behavior:

“We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.”

Here is an example of a site that isn’t optimized for mobile devices compared to one that is:

Focus on Mobile

Keep the following in mind when building a site for mobile:

  • Make it easy for users: Users should be able to find exactly what they are looking for on your pages. Avoid using uncommon software such as Flash and use text that is easily readable.
  • Support common tasks: How effective your mobile site is ultimately depends on the objectives you want to achieve. Common tasks such as making a purchase or filling out a form should be straightforward.
  • Use a consistent design: Consumers use different devices to access webpages from smartphones to tablets and desktops. Responsive web design is Google’s recommended mobile configuration.

Make mobile a priority if it isn’t already.

2. Publish More In-Depth Content
Ranking starts with content.

But the actual quality matters.

You cannot expect to rank well for a page that is poorly written or stuffed with target keywords. Relying on this strategy could even get your site penalized in the search results. So the answer to achieving better SEO results is obvious: Focus on in-depth content that delivers value to your market.

A study by serpIQ looked at how content length affects rankings. The results showed that pages in the top results consistently had more content than the bottom results:

Average Content Length

This is likely due to a number of reasons.

If you are looking up information on how to build a local business website or a product review, short articles just won’t cut it. Longer content is more likely to cover a certain topic in more detail and even attract more quality links.

Content is important for another reason: Rich answers.

Rich answers are short snippets of content that display directly on the search results. They make it easy for users to quickly find an answer without having to sift through pages of results. Here is an example:

Rich Answers

A study from Stone Temple found that 31.2% of search queries resulted in a rich answer. For a majority of these answers Google uses external data and links to its source.

It’s entirely possible to get featured in a rich answer by:

  • Conducting keyword research: Use a number of tools at your disposal from Google’s Keyword Planner tool to social media to identity some of the most commonly searched questions in your market.
  • Creating in-depth content: With your keyword research, start by publishing content that directly answers those questions. Aim to be a comprehensive research rather than simply rehashing content together.
  • Promoting it: Content promotion is just as important as content creation. Share your newly published content to your social media accounts and promote it through other channels to increase its visibility.

Content is critical to rank well. But the emphasis here is on quality.

The search landscape continues to undergo massive changes.

Ranking at the top of the search results is a complicated affair. Major changes to ranking algorithms make it clear that Google rewards sites that provide a better overall experience. Mobile and content are undoubtedly two areas to focus more of your attention on in the coming year.

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