Importance to search engines has gone up 81% (up from 7% in 2014)
The amount of time people spend on your site as a factor has gone up 67%
Readability and design’s importance has gone up 67%
Paid links have decreased in importance by 55%
The use of anchor text as a factor has gone down by 49%
The Latest SEO Practices
User Intent is Everything
In the past, getting clicks was everything, but now search engines are tracking how people interact with your website: Are people staying on your site and finding the answers the seek? Or are they going back to the search results to find a better answer? Post-click activity is what matters now so the focus is not just on just getting clicks, but also if those clicks are satisfying user intent.
Keywords are NOT everything, but they’re still important
Keyword research still is an important aspect of marketing, but the focus has transcended beyond keywords and focusing on longer keyword phrases that come up in more natural language searches that their target audience uses.
User experience is IMPORTANT
Google makes approximately 500 changes to its search algorithm every year. Most of these changes are focused on improving the user experience. Google wants users to find exactly what they’re looking for in a single search. Writing good content and presenting it in a visceral way assists google in that endeavor, so websites that do so benefit greatly. You want the best content on the internet for the words and phrases used by your audience.
Longer articles (1200+ words) perform substantially better than the shorter articles that many websites relied on for years (most less than 500 words). The goal is to present these longer articles in a way that delights the user.
If you’re not mobile friendly, you will be left behind
Google is no longer waiting for website owners to update to mobile friendly platforms. Sites that are not mobile friendly are disappearing from mobile search results (soon to be approximately 60% of US searches). Not appearing for mobile searches can have a devastating effect on your overall SEO performance. If people are not visiting your website when searching, then overtime Google will stop displaying your site in those specific search results.
Focus on your Audience
In the past, it was about marketers trying to promote what they wanted people to see. Today it’s about delivering what people actually want to see. Doing so will boost your rankings over time. It doesn’t matter how high you rank if your target audience is dissatisfied with your presentation.
Social Engagement Is Growing in Importance
Google does pay attention to Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks. The majority of online users rely on their social networks for discovering new places, businesses, hobbies, and more. Having a strong social presence can greatly boost your page rankings.
Videos Still Dominate
If you can produce short videos, then you should. People enjoy watching videos, and more importantly they enjoy sharing videos to their profiles.
Voice Searches Are Real
More and more people are using voice commands to search. Targeting long-tail keywords is the most effective method to capture these searches.
Google is Going Local
50 % of mobile searches are intended to find a local business. Google understands this and has been updating its algorithm to account for local search. Having your address and contact information available on your website (and submitting that information to the various search engines) can improve your search results, especially when you’re presenting quality content.