How to craft a successful SEO strategy this year

Search engine optimization is constantly experiencing new developments, and marketers need to make regular adjustments to their strategies to ensure their content is still easily found on the Internet. With a number of Google's algorithmic changes impacting content marketing, marketers should take note and reassess SEO initiatives. 

In fact, Google Hummingbird, the latest search engine algorithm represents the most significant shifts in the SEO industry since 2011, according to Forbes. Google said it made approximately two changes to its algorithm per day, so the Internet marketing community has certainly felt the effects. Hummingbird places more emphasis on the quality and readability of content rather than keyword density. Content marketing and SEO are still closely tied together, but marketers will not be able to achieve high search engine rankings with generic keywords anymore. Content needs to be relevant and informative for website visitors for the best results. 

With Google's continued developments in mind, here are some considerations for the year ahead:

Mobile SEO is becoming more important
Mobility is highly relevant for business-to-consumer companies. Citing a Nielsen and Google study, Search Engine Watch said 55 percent of shoppers want to make a purchase within an hour of looking something up on a mobile device, and 83 percent intend to do so within one day. As the popularity of smartphones and tablets have skyrocketed in the past few years, mobile search has become more common. In fact, it is now an integral part of the purchasing process for many consumers. 

Marketers need to pay more attention to mobile SEO because Google's algorithmic changes also place more significance on a high-quality user experience for people who search with their smartphones and tablets. While many marketing experts have been mentioning the importance of a mobile-optimized website for the past few years, SEO needs to go beyond this. Companies have the option to choose between a responsively designed site that adapts to the device used to access it or a dedicated mobile site. Many businesses are still struggling with mobile experience. Marketers need to ensure the site is easy to use and navigate. Because customers utilize mobile devices differently than desktops during the purchasing process, marketers should have a firm understanding of how and why visitors are accessing the site from a smartphone or tablet. User behavior is an important indication, the source said.

Social media will positively influence SEO
While social media doesn't have the same power as traditional link building, the more people are talking about products and services on these networks, the better SEO results a business can see. Facebook likes and shares, Twitter mentions and retweets and Pinterest pins tend to translate to higher rankings, Search Engine Land stated. However, the correlation does not necessarily mean the increased social activity is causing a company's site to shoot up on the results page. Marketers need to have an understanding of how each network can have an effect on strategy. For example, Google Plus is owned by the search engine, so an active presence on this network can influence Google rankings. Companies also need to be in tune with which platforms their target audiences are using to create the most effective social media strategy.

Personalization may have an effect on user experience
As SEO becomes more advanced, international and local results are gaining more focus, according to Search Engine Land. Marketers need to consider optimizing for geographical areas, whether it is a nearby region or international markets. Properly using sub-domains or country code domains, tagging pages with language codes and registering geographic targets through Google's Webmaster tools are important to think about when trying to widen the SEO net. In addition, Internet users want a personalized experience when they use search engines. Internet browsers like Chrome record users' history to fill in the blanks in future results. This may influence SEO results in the near future because if visitors are consistently finding value in the content of the site, it will send positive signals to search engines. 

Companies may want to consider their local search marketing strategies. Forbes said 20 percent of all Google searches are related to location. Local-optimized business listings for Google and Bing can improves organizations' chances of showing up in results. 

Web design matters beyond mobile optimization
While many websites used to contain many Flash elements, HTML 5 is becoming the standard in the industry. Too much Flash can bog down the loading times of a Web page. In addition, HTML 5 is more compatible across multiple devices, Forbes stated. Because user experience is such an important part of SEO results in the modern Internet marketing industry, companies need to consider how to utilize both of these systems for the best results.

While the impending changes to SEO may be intimidating for some marketers, continuing to produce high-quality content will lead to better results. 

Sheila Kloefkorn (1029 Posts)

With more than 20 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing,, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.