1. Mobile Optimization
With Google moving toward a mobile-first index, any digital marketer that does not have a dynamic serving or responsive website risks losing their ranking in the SERPs. The search engine giant will still only have a single index, except the index will contain the mobile version of a website’s pages. Google will still index websites with a desktop version only, however, they will utilize a mobile user agent to view the site’s pages.
Load speed is also critical since Google penalizes mobile websites that load slowly. In addition. slowly loading websites provide a poor user experience. As more digital marketers optimize for Google’s mobile-first indexing, factors such as load speed can make the difference between a first page position or a second page spot.
2. High Quality Content Is More Important Than Ever
Google will hold content on financial, medical and legal websites to a higher quality standard, since consumers may make life decisions based on the information they find on these websites. Spammy article with typos and grammar mistakes, or content from non-authoritative sources will slip in the rankings. Nevertheless, a person who used a particular vitamin or herb to cure their illness is considered an authority, since they speak from personal experience.
Google has been favoring useful, in-depth content that provides answers to user’s questions, however, establishing trustworthiness and expertise are more important than ever now. Of the top search results for financial, medical and legal topics, websites with long-form content of at least 600 words dominate the positions on the first page.
Backlinks, especially from diverse domains, are still an important ranking factor. When one website links to another site, it’s seen as an endorsement of the second website’s content as useful and relevant.
Links to content from Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and other social media platforms count as backlinks since search engines see them as endorsements of the page’s credibility, therefore, social backlinks influence a page’s rank.
Backlinks from directories are worthless; the exceptions being professional directories and local directories, which actually help with citation building for local SEO. Earning backlinks, by publishing content this is link-worthy, is the safest way to accumulate backlinks.
4. Video Rules
Blended search results, where videos show in the SERPs, are growing in popularity, especially for searches where people are interested in learning how to perform a task. Embedding a video on a site increases the website’s chance to land an enviable spot on the first page of Google’s blended search results. However, avoid flash videos, now that Google is going to mobile-first indexing.
YouTube videos receive prominent placement in the SERPs, since Google owns the social media channel. YouTube offers numerous ways to optimize video content for keywords so the search engines understand the content, however, providing a transcript is the best way to let search engines decipher the video’s content.
While digital marketers overwhelmingly optimize their content for Google, by far the most popular search engine, YouTube is the world’s second most popular search engine. Creating videos for YouTube is an ideal way to earn more backlinks and click-throughs, as well as sending social signals to other search engines.
While these four tactics discuss optimizing a website for Google, they are just as applicable to other search engines.