Is SEO Dead?

Take a good look at the image below. Notice that ghost of a word “dead” in grey lettering that’s ready to pop up before you even type it? See all four recommendations Google has so conveniently prepped for you? “Is SEO dead?, Is SEO worth it?, Is SEO still relevant?, Is SEO important?” This is not happenstance — this is SEO.

It seems of late, many are asking “Is SEO dead?”, in fact — it seems to be the number one search made about the topic. And as the image shows — SEO is clearly not dead, but a lot has changed since the early days of Google, and there’s a lot to consider as you push your marketing strategy forward. Let’s take a look at some recent findings and find out what factors will be most relevant as we move into 2016.

Mobile Friendly

With mobile searches outpacing desktop searches in 10 countries (including the US), mobile optimization has become increasingly important for Google rankings.

Also under the umbrella of mobile, is consideration for “digital assistants” like Siri or Cortana. As Forbes points out:

“Spoken language queries tend to be much different than typed queries, meaning a whole new type of long-tail keyword queries — particularly those that mimic spoken dialogue — will emerge.”

This means that moving forward, businesses will have to think of expanding their verbiage to fit the queries of both the spoken and written word.

Engaging Content

Using a variety of studies, Business2Community predicts that hits to your content will no longer be enough to boost your rankings. Instead, they predict that content will have to be engaging enough to hold reader’s attention, thus the length of time someone spends engaging/reading your content, is more important than the mere fact that they clicked on your link. This is great news for readers and marketers who prefer quality over click-bait articles void of substance.

The most obvious way to adapt to this ranking factor is to monitor bounce rates and eliminate content that looses viewers quickly. Inversely, mimic quality content that holds your audience’s attention.

Social Media: Blurring The Lines

Since Google has finished negotiation with Twitter and Facebook, content shared on these social media platforms will begin to get indexed by Google’s search engine. This means relevant and robust content on social will most likely impact your overall rankings. And as B2C states:

“From an SEO viewpoint, the difference between “social media” and “web” will begin to become indistinct.”

There are debates as to whether or not social shares impact your actual content rankings. Indisputable however, are the increase in rankings that results from clicks and engagement that these re-shares can bring.

It seems as Google also makes a special exception for current events. Today for example, there is a lot of buzz going on about Obama’s possible decision to close Guantanamo Bay. Look what happens when we typed that into the search bar:

Recent tweets appear near the top of the results. What does this mean for content? Well, we surmise that when it comes to social, Google rewards current relevancy.

Kissmetrics points out that the content you share on social also have an affect on your profile rankings. When you type in Nike in the Google search bar for example, some of the top results are social media accounts:

Concept>Keyword

Google is finally learning how to read a page organically. This doesn’t negate the importance of keywords, but it does mean that keyword stuffing is not only unnecessary, but it might also be perilous to your efforts. This is good news not only for content marketers, but the web as a whole.

Specific>General

Niche, niche, niche! Search Engine Watch states that niche topics with very specific and detailed information will become the new norm. This means fluff-based articles will not cut the mustard. This has been a standard practice for smaller companies hoping to get clicks in less competitive searches for a while now, but look for it to continue into 2016.

Article Length

Length of content will continue to play a role in 2016 as it has in previous years. Google has increasingly preferred longer form content. According to a serpIQ study, the highest performing content averages over 2,300 words. This is a reaction to an obvious desire for meatier and more meaningful content on Google’s part. Take advantage of this factor by analyzing topics from many angles.

Final Thoughts

No one knows with 100% certainty all of the nuances that Google implements into their search engine ranking system, but we can get pretty damn close if we take advantage of the people who have dedicated time and resources to studying this phenomenon. The takeaway? Google prefers robust and quality content optimized for mobile.


Originally published at blog.bookly.co.

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