4 Strategies for Improving Your SEO in 2016



From the increased prominence of local mobile search to the increasing role of digital search assistants, 2016 promises to be another big year for SEO changes.


Access exclusive SMW+ content by marketers whose careers you can emulate with a free 30-day trial!

From constant algorithm updates (including RankBrain) to Google’s “MobileGeddon”, keeping up with SEO changes in 2015 was enough to give any digital marketer whiplash. As we look towards 2016, this year promises to be another wild SEO ride– not to mention a year with big content marketing and social media changes, too!

Ongoing algorithm changes, new technologies and changing mobile search behaviors (including increased reliance on digital personal assistants like Siri and Cortana) will continue to change how we think about search engine optimization in the coming year. In fact, some of today’s best SEO practices – like focusing on keyword optimization and desktop optimization – could become obsolete this time next year, reports Forbes.

“In just the last year alone, we’re starting to see a shift in search behavior, including a major spike in mobile traffic,” says Brian Sutter, Director of Marketing for Wasp Barcode. “A key part of our digital marketing strategy has been to increase our focus on mobile search, and we anticipate a similar trend into 2016.”

Adrienne DeVita, the CEO of Digital Media Cube, also predicts some bold changes for 2016. “As part of our online training, we’ve been shifting the focus to emphasize local mobile search, online review management, and smarter optimization strategies that go beyond keywords.”

Are you ready for what’s ahead? Here’s how to take your SEO to the next level in 2016:

1. Identify current problems with an SEO audit

You can’t fix what you don’t know is wrong! Sure, you may see the symptoms of the problem (your page doesn’t rank highly on Google, you’ve had a dip in organic search traffic), but unless you perform an SEO audit, you won’t know what’s wrong. Marketing firm Youth Noise offers a free and superbly useful SEO auditing tool. Enter your URL and keyword phrase for a quick ranking scan that takes less than 45 seconds.

As a bonus, you can enter a competitor’s site for an SEO audit comparison. An SEO audit is an important baseline for identifying problems and comparing the impact of algorithm changes and your own ongoing optimization efforts. Wonder how impactful your changes will be? Use an SEO ROI calculator to estimate how monthly annual SEO budget will impact traffic and sales conversions.

2. Invest in SEO training

New to SEO or need to brush up your knowledge? Moz’s Beginners Guide to SEO covers the basics for how search engines work, how people interact with search engines, why search engine marketing matters, and how to get started with basic keyword research. Feeling comfortable with these SEO basics? Then dive deeper with an online training course aimed specifically at advanced Internet marketers.

I’m a fan of Digital Media Cube’s offerings because they hone in on the most important skills at an affordable price, as well as monthly SEM training that include a live Q&A webinar and a competitor analysis take over training. (Bonus: you can also get a free website audit report from Digital Media Cube in 60 seconds). Given how quickly the SEO landscape can change, a monthly refresher course could prove invaluable.

3. Get serious about local search

Still playing lip service to local search? Make 2016 the year you get serious about not only claiming your online listings but also building these listings out and optimizing your site’s content for local search. Master onsite optimization: add keywords on page titles that identify your business, the services, and location. Your business’s name, address and phone number (NAP) should be on every page, not just the contact page or home page.

Next, get serious about local search listings. Claim your listing on Google, Yelp, YP, Yellowbook and Facebook. Be sure that your business is listed in the appropriate business categories. Finally, if your business has multiple locations, create separate listings for each location. Doing so will boost the visibility of your brand and each of your different stores.

4. Be active with online reviews

User reviews can help build your business’s visibility in search results, which is great news if your reviews are positive – less so if you’ve got a string of negative reviews. Roughly speaking, the more authentic, positive reviews your website receives, the higher it will appear in search results (both for Google and the review site itself, like Yelp).

While you should never, ever pay for reviews or force customers to leave a review, you can be proactive in encouraging customers to leave a quick comment. Invite customers to post their reviews on a variety of sites (not just yelp). Always respond to reviews, both negative and positive. Thank customers for their feedback and, in the case of a negative review, ask customers to contact you directly so you can better address the problem.

Once you’ve made it right, invite customers to update their review (should they want to, of course) in response to your changes. Whatever you do, make online reviews a priority!

Bottom line

From the increased prominence of local mobile search to the increasing role of digital search assistants, 2016 promises to be another big year for SEO changes. Take steps now to identify and correct problems on your website with an SEO audit, enroll in an online training course to brush up on your SEO skills, and get ready for what’s ahead!

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Learn More

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here