It’s 2016 at last! While you’re drafting up resolutions for a new you, don’t forget to assess your website to make sure it can keep up with the constantly-changing world of search engine optimization. Not sure where to begin? After scouting dozens of articles, blog posts, videos and even research papers, we’ve compiled a list of 16 things you can do to amp up your website’s SEO for 2016.
1) Give Your Site a Speed Check
Head over to Google Speed Test to see where you can shorten loading times and increase user experience. You can usually cut loading times by finding a good compression software for images.
2) Add Author Bylines
A study conducted by Google using heatmaps from eye-tracking devices determined users are more likely to notice and to click on links that are accompanied by an author byline and thumbnail headshot, AKA “rich snippets.” Learn more about Google authorship and what it could do for you in this article from Buffer by Kevin Lee.
3) Subscribe To/Follow Reputable SEO Blogs
Trying to keep up with SEO will inevitably feel like you’re falling behind. Click To TweetPro tip: subscribe to reputable SEO blogs and regularly read new posts. Here are a few of our favorites:
Search Engine Land
4) Complete a Free Online Course
If you haven’t already, take advantage of Google’s certifications on topics including analytics, adword fundamentals, and advertising for searches, displays, videos, shopping and mobile. Udemy also has a great free online course for people just starting out in search engine optimization.
5) Run a Complete SEO Audit
A new year is a perfect excuse to run a complete audit of your website and clean up anything that could be hurting your site’s SEO. Don’t have time for a complete audit? Google webmaster tools provide access to search queries, internal links, ranking keywords and website errors. Screaming Frog is another useful SEO tool that will check for missing image tags, meta descriptions, 404 errors and more.
6) Use Eye-catching and Unique Graphics
There is a time and place for stock images, but if you really want to make an impact and get some great share-friendly content, original graphics are the way to go. Read more about the benefits of using original images here.
7) Create an Original Infographic and Video
Buzzsumo discusses some of the reasons certain content goes viral, and video is becoming a big part of that process (Forbes Top 7 SEO Trends).
8) Check out a Competitor’s Site
There’s no shame in admiring another company’s practices, but rather than trying to guess what it’s doing right, use a tool like SEMrush to check its website out and see what’s happening behind the scenes.
9) Write Longer Posts/Articles
It’s becoming more popular to share content with a higher word count and slightly higher reading difficulty. It’s easy to brush over a topic, but many users want more in-depth articles rather than general overviews. Make increasing your average word count on blog posts from the previous year’s average one of your new year’s goals.
10) Repromote an Old Post
Have a blog post that never quite took off? Choose a more popular day of the week to re-promote it on social media and inject some life into it. Jazz up re-posts with click-to-tweet buttons and pull-out quotes to boost shareability even more.
11) Amp up your Brand
It’s vital for a brand to be consistent and reputable, but to also actively participate on social media sites. “Social signals” such as Facebook likes or Google +1s are now more than ever influencing users’ behavior.
12) Prioritize Quality Content
It’s no secret keywords are no longer the top priority of SEO engineers. Now, more than ever, the quality of content is of utmost importance. Click To TweetWrite for your intended audience and use natural, relevant language to appeal to these users. This is the best way to ensure a positive user-experience and will be more enduring than purely keyword-focused pages.
13) Optimize for Mobile OVER Desktop
With mobilegeddon behind us, mobile-friendly sites are a necessity. In fact, if forced to choose, optimize for a mobile user rather than a desktop user because more Google searches are taking place on mobile devices than on desktops.
14) Restructure Pages to Optimize for Users/Crawlers
Organize your content to make sense and flow naturally. Break up long articles with headings and lists. Submit a sitemap to Google webmaster or Bing webmaster tools to make your site even easier to crawl.
15) Disavow any Low-Quality Backlinks
Basically, a site may be penalized if its copy shows up on a less-reputable site or if you’ve been linked to from a low-quality site. If that’s happening to your site, you can disavow the link to Google and prevent any negative repercussions that may happen as a result.
16) Take Advantage of App Indexing
In my research for this post, one of the most mentioned predictions for features likely to take off in the future of SEO was app-indexing. App-indexing is when you link to a page or element inside of an app so it opens up in the app rather than in a browser. This is a great way to encourage users to use your app without much effort.
There you go! Give your SEO a thorough check-up and ring in the new year properly watching your website climbing the search rankings. If you need help with any of these resolutions, give us a call!
Written by Tina Kay Oliver || Search Engine Optimization and Google Analytics Consultant