The “State of SEO”, Our Predictions, & More…
June 21, 2016 by Alex Miller
Big day everyone – PosiRank’s blog is now LIVE and this will be the 1st of many posts to come! We’re excited and hope you are too 🙂
Don’t worry – we won’t just post for the sake of it. That’s not our style.
Instead, our goal is to give our loyal customers valuable SEO insights, actionable steps to improve your campaigns – and to of course listen (and react) to your feedback to keep improving our platform.
For this inaugural post, we’re going to cover:
- The current “State of SEO” as we see it
- What’s changed in the last 12 months (the good and the bad)
- In a nutshell, what’s working right now and what you should be aware of…
- Our predictions for the next 6-12 months
- A few hints for the very near future
Well, let’s get started.
The “State of SEO”
The last 12-15+ months has actually been pretty stable for SEO’s in terms of significant algorithm updates from the likes of Panda, Penguin, Pigeon etc that regularly cause a lot of anxiety in the industry.
There have not been any seriously disruptive updates from Google and it has been one of the longest stretches without some sort of chaos that we can remember.
One of the reasons has likely been due to ongoing, near-live updates and roll-outs vs the more historic “overnight” changes that catapult sites all over the place. Such an infrastructure certainly lends to a regular series of more subtle changes which we much prefer!
AI is certainly where Google is headed (and practically every other big company). The biggest hint for Google being that the head of AI was promoted to CEO recently back in Feb 2016. It’s likely that their focus on this aspect of Search has also been a major reason for “less than normal” disruption in SEO.
However, that is not to say we haven’t seen any changes. We absolutely have as Google has focused on:
- Mobile optimization and increased importance as people continue to switch from desktop > tablet / mobile (If you haven’t still put this right at the top of your list, we urge you to…)
- Including even more “social” into the SERP’s (on top of social now being a ranking factor, we’re seeing tons of social platform posts showing up in Search – tweets, facebook posts, pinterest links and obviously video).
- Knowledge Graph expansion (have you noticed there are more rich snippets and rich answers than ever before? What an opportunity this presents to us SEO’s. Think “long tail”)
- Voice search explosion (A huge increase which has almost felt “overnight” to us. Just like with the knowledge graph, this really opens it up for SEO’s to create content based around these questions and queries and expand our traffic possibilities. Don’t fight it!)
…and that’s to name just a few of course.
The Good News & Bad News (Past 12+ Months)
The good news is that Google has been raising the bar on what they define “quality” to be, and those sites are getting some serious rewards.
This really IS good news because a tsunami of low quality sites (that truly don’t deserve to rank) have been eliminated from the top ranking positions. You must have noticed this, right? We’re not saying all – we’re saying a LOT of them 🙂
It might be time consuming, but it’s not difficult to create a high quality site that Google falls in love with. Of course, this is a topic we’ve discussed at length in our strategy room and we’ll really dive into more again very soon.
(Note: Below, you’ll see what this is in a “nutshell”).
More good news is that with Google’s algorithm switching to a more real-time structure, getting your site out of penalties is faster than ever before. No need to wait 6-12 months for Panda updates and very soon we won’t have to wait for Penguin to update. Thank the Lord for that.
Anyways, it’s not all roses though.
The bad news over the last 12 months is that the top-fold space is continuing to be squeezed out for SEO’s.
We’ve seen Local SEO change from the 7-pack to the 3-pack; more searches being made from smaller screens (mobile & tablets) and the effects of removing paid ads from the right sidebar (notice they added another paid listing at the top, but not everyone agrees this is bad for SEO’s). We can all agree it has kept us on our feet, though.
More accurately, it has increased the necessity to do whatever is necessary to rank your sites on the front page and to finally confront the fact that you need to create a quality website, with quality “signals” to Google.
We continue to become frustrated by so many SEO’s ignoring the absolute basics (Google anything you want and look at the title and meta tags, what a mess). Still, many are looking for shortcuts as well as the newest SEO tactic that’ll help you overcome low quality core issues.
We won’t rest until all of customers take the necessary action to rank their sites as “front and center” as possible. This leads nicely into the next section of this blog post…
What’s Working (Now & “Still”)
Disclaimer: If you read our emails and jump into the strategy room from time-to-time, you’re unlikely to read anything groundbreaking here. This isn’t because we’re behind the times, it’s because the same stuff is working and continues to do so over and over. That, without question, is good news!
Here’s what’s driving rankings to Page 1:
- Yes, Content is King. In-depth and captivating content that your audience actually wants to read and will care about. This is where we and Matt Cutts did agree (!).
Bottom Line: Create content that people actually want to read, and go well above and beyond your competitors. There’s a reason we recommend soaring past the 1k word mark per article and that’s because numerous studies have shown that the average front-page ranking assets has 1,200+ words. Well, and our data from 17,000 campaigns emphatically supports this.That doesn’t mean you write up any old crap to fill in the blanks. Even if you fill up 1,000+ words, the rankings will never come because everyone will bounce off your page, won’t share your content and will generally send every negative signal to Google. Not good.
Instead, deep-dive into the topic – and outdo your competitors. Create definitive guides where possible, not just thin summaries and overviews. Use keyword research tools, find out what people are asking with voice search (and include Q&A’s into your articles to mop up additional traffic), reverse engineer your top competitors and beat them. There’s a real reason that sites like AuthorityNutrition.com receive over 11MM (yep) visitors per month from Search. Look at the quality of their content. That site isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. That’s how you rank #3 for “weight loss” (if that’s your goal).
- Google Hates Junk (we’ve discussed this to death, make sure you are indexing high quality pages in Google’s index. It’s a game of ratio’s and you want the lower quality to be as minimal as possible. Do a site:yourdomain.com in Google, flick through the results pages and you’ll be stunned at the junk you find. Do a big clean up!)
- Elementary School SEO (but highly effective and necessary!) We’re talking about basics such as writing a title tag that actually fits the allowed (new) width. Amazing content but terrible title and description tags? You’re throwing away traffic.This extends to actually linking internally from page to page. Point people in the right direction, show them you have more content on your site than they might first think. Invite people to stay on your site longer. And of course – use this to your advantage as well by boosting any page you want on your site with this technique (more in a future blog post).Summary = link from powerful pages on your site to pages you want to increase rank for.New technique? No. Do most people bother to do it? Unfortunately not.
- Ensure your site loads in under 2 seconds. Honestly, what possible motivation do Google have to rank a slow-loading site – in 2016? They have a tolerance policy on this. Probably the easiest way to boost your rankings across the board is to speed up your site.
- Take Mobile very seriously. Everyone uses their phones & tablets to search now, desktops will be dinosaurs soon and everyone needs to make sure they’re not only optimizing their mobile SEO, but also tracking what their visitors are doing and improve conversions wherever possible.
- Get links that are valuable. Mass generated links are so “done” now and have been for a while. Focus on getting links from sites that are real, that rank in Google and will continue to grow and thus expand in their authority. There are just so many ways of doing this.
- Social signals. It’s proven by many that social signals influence rankings. It’s not just links, and it never will be again. Diversify your promotions by including these into your campaigns, each and every month.
Predictions For The Next 6-12 Months:
Here are some of our predictions:
- The next version of “Rank Brain” will be released and made public as Google’s AI enhances (likely to be in 2016)
- A continued, intensive drive on Mobile – I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet who disagrees with this one!
- More rich snippets in the SERP’s (because searchers just love them and it helps to keep searchers on Google)
- More Voice Search as the technology continues to improve (at an alarming rate)
- Top-level content will become more necessary for the best rankings as Google continues to reward in-depth, trustworthy content more than something that was quickly whipped up on a coffee break
- Social becomes an even more influential ranking factor and continues to take up more “real estate” in the SERP’s. It wasn’t too long ago that Google couldn’t determine what a fake, bot-driven social account looked like. We believe they definitely can now and the more they understand what real signals are, the more weight they’ll apply “Social” to their algorithm.
What Can SEO’s Do Now?
We suggest focusing on what we discussed in the “what’s working now” section and combine with our predictions for the next 6-12 months.
One of the main preparations though is really a mindset shift. Most SEO’s have been in the business for many years, which includes the days where you could spam your way to the top by basically getting a ton of links from anyone and any site.
You can’t do that anymore, certainly not for the long term. And of course none of us are here for the short-term.
It’s crucial to understand that SEO is no longer about doing that 1 thing really well. You can’t just get great links and rank high for 1000’s of terms. You can’t just create incredible content and hope that people will find it. And you can’t do both those things but have a site that loads in 12 seconds and hope to rank high.
SEO, now more than ever, is about ticking as many of these boxes as you can – and that should be your action. Most of your competition will be checking just a few boxes; if you can start attacking those areas they are not you’re going to see Google reward you more than ever before.
This is specifically why (on the promotional side), we’ve been really focused on providing a diverse range of tier-1 options in the PosiRank platform – specifically, the combination of using High DA Guest Posts in tandem with our Social Momentum line, which is exclusive to PosiRank.
We’ll cover numerous proof-cases with respect to the Social Momentum product line in upcoming posts, but the primary takeaway here is this:
Whether PosiRank is your sole fulfillment solution, or part of your overall budget – make sure that you’re crafting campaigns that focus on a mix of quality publicity & social exposure. Remember that one solid link is worth 10 “okay” links.
Usually the more expensive products are actually a lot cheaper in the long run, and will speed your ROI considerably.
For our customers – for same-day strategic assistance on your campaigns, please log in and go to Help > Strategy Room to get insight on exactly what to do with your campaigns.
What’s Coming Up Soon From Us?
Here’s what we’ll be covering over the coming weeks:
- Easily Multiply Traffic by Leveraging “Siri”…
- Small Levers, Big Results. How to expertly wield the “light touch” with onsite and a mix of GP’s/Social to rank faster than ever.
- Reputation Management is the new “ranking”. Here’s how to pull it off (and how to sell it at huge margins).
- “My Budget is XXXX – What’s the fastest path to ROI, right now?”
- What does our “data room” look like, after running 17,000+ campaigns? We pull back the curtain on our keyword data a bit and make observations.
And more, of course.
Stay tuned 🙂
~ Alex Miller