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    seo-best-practices-2016Search engine optimization is a primary consideration in website development and maintenance. As it continues to evolve unpredictably, website owners just can’t afford to sit back and let the same strategies do the work. Constant monitoring and evaluation are vital to sustaining a site’s visibility on Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

    In re-examining the approaches of the past year vis-a-vis the noted changes introduced by Google, it is critical to assess what practices will continue to be relevant in 2016. Here are some strategies that will positively impact your website’s optimization this year:

    Provide quality content

    Various SEO authorities have written that “content is king,” and this remains to be true in 2016. It cannot be stressed enough that content should be informative, helpful, and original. It should be designed to meet the user’s needs and expectations.

    Keyword phrases should appear naturally and be placed logically throughout the articles. It is a big mistake to keep repeating them several times when they don’t fit into the context of the discussion. For optimization purposes, they should be included in the title and subheadings.

    Write longer articles

    Short articles with about 300 words are a thing of the past. Google prefers pages that provide longer and more comprehensive discussions on a particular topic. This is because the search giant considers user satisfaction in evaluating page content.

    It is recommended that articles should contain between 1,200 to 1,500 words. To make longer content easy to read for the user, the topic should be broken up into subheadings and be structured logically.

    While brief content such as “5 Tips To..” or “5 Best Features of..”  abound on the internet, they do not provide in-depth discussions on a subject. Articles like these tend to merely skim over a topic and are less valuable to readers. While they cannot be entirely avoided,  they should be used minimally.

    Include visual media

    Multimedia content in the form of slideshow presentations, graphics, animated images, and videos are becoming increasingly popular. This is probably because these forms of content deliver information in an engaging manner. Because SEO is becoming more about promoting user experience, multimedia is a trend that will continue to grow in the coming years.

    Maximize social media presence

    Currently, Google doesn’t use social media presence as a factor in ranking a webpage. However, social sharing promotes brand visibility and marketing. This generates inbound traffic which is a significant aspect of SEO. In that sense, content sharing on social media platforms indirectly affects SEO. Website owners can definitely benefit from this strategy.

    Enhance link building

    Links are still a critical component that influences rankings. Google evaluates links in determining whether a page or site is reputable. Webmasters should be very selective in choosing sites to provide them with backlinks. It is strongly recommended that external or referral links come from trusted and authoritative websites.

    As for internal linking, the rules against spamming remain the same. Website owners can continue to use this approach to keep readers on their site but they must still observe white hat practices.

    Go mobile

    Since Google launched its mobile-friendly algorithm (loosely called “Mobilegeddon”), the search engine considers mobile user experience as an important element in assigning site rankings. With more users accessing webpages on smartphones, websites should provide mobile-friendly versions of their content. This may require reducing the number of ads or animated graphics, scaling down image sizes, and presenting content in an easy-to-read form to ensure that the pages load quickly on mobile devices.

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    The principal rule appears to be user experience. The intent of Google’s algorithm shifts is to deliver great user satisfaction. Though search engines are still robots and are fundamentally text-based, they are getting smarter with their analysis tools.

    Website owners probably can’t expect to outsmart search engines. However, being mindful of the modifications and the new trends will ensure that their sites stay relevant in the game.

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