SEO Myths vs. Realities in 2016

Search engine optimization is a never-ending game with constantly changing rules — so much so, that eventually old rules become blurred or obsolete. But old habits are hard to break, and many SEO experts are guilty of pressing forward with less-effective strategies.

Link building? What are you, a blacksmith?Search engine optimization is a never-ending game with constantly changing rules — so much so, that eventually old rules become blurred or obsolete. But old habits are hard to break, and many SEO experts are guilty of pressing forward with less-effective strategies.

It’s understandable, given the monumental shifts taking place in the SEO world. Just a few years ago, few people imagined that mobile websites, social media and smartphone apps would make such a big impact on the SEO landscape. And yet here we are, and these emerging technologies have already changed the game.

Building a good SEO strategy in 2016 means dispelling myths and accepting new realities. The way people interact with the Internet has evolved, and SEO experts who don’t adjust accordingly will eventually be riding the bench.

Myth: Written content is still the most important kind of content.
Reality: Video content has pulled even with text.

If written content is still more important, then it’s hanging on by a fingernail. The truth is that video content may have already pulled even with text content in terms of overall importance to SEO efforts, and it won’t be long until engaging video content dethrones written content. The simple truth is that video content is far more engaging and is more likely to be shared on forums, on websites and in social media. As search engines shift to reflect the kinds of user experiences that people want — and as social media posts become part of Google’s organic search rankings — the importance of quality video content will be undebatable.

Myth: My desktop site is more important than my mobile site.
Reality: Mobile websites are more important than desktop sites in some industries.

Most people now use the Internet more via mobile devices than desktop PCs. In April 2015, Google unleashed an update known by SEO experts as “Mobilegeddon” that gave priority to websites with suitable mobile versions — so we already know this is one of Google’s top priorities. In the past, it was easy to view mobile sites as optional novelties that accompanied desktop sites. That’s no longer the case. The way people interact with websites changes significantly when viewing the Internet through smartphones and tablets. Google is already embracing this reality, and SEO experts must do the same.

Myth: Building inbound links to my website is no longer important.
Reality: Inbound links never went out of style.

It’s easy to think that, with the growing importance of mobile websites and social media, perhaps the tried-and-true practice of link-building is no longer a necessity. Turns out, that couldn’t be more false. While backlinks aren’t as critical now as they were a few years ago, they’re still highly important and will help your site’s SEO ranking. If anything, the popularity of sharable content on social media has allowed opportunistic SEO experts to expand their networks of backlinks even further.

Myth: Social media marketing isn’t relevant to my SEO efforts.
Reality: Social media marketing is not only important, but it’s becoming vital.

This can’t be said enough — social media is dramatically changing people’s relationships with the Internet. An increasing number of people use Facebook and Twitter as their jumping-off points to other types of content. If you impress people on social media with engaging articles, videos or infographics, the result could be scores of new links being pointed back at your website. More links and more traffic means a better SEO ranking.

Also, Google now has a contract with Twitter to display tweets in the search rankings. Google is also indexing Facebook pages — this started last year — and it’s not uncommon for Facebook pages to be returned as search results to people’s queries. Going forward, social media marketing is only going to become more entwined with winning SEO strategies.

Top 10 SEO Trends for 2016

How people use the Internet is changing, and SEO experts must evolve to stay relevant. Last year was defined by the rising importance of mobile website optimization — and while that trend will continue, expect social media, apps and Google advancements to make increasingly large impacts on the SEO industry.

Google WordleHow people use the Internet is changing, and SEO experts must evolve to stay relevant. Last year was defined by the rising importance of mobile website optimization — and while that trend will continue, expect social media, apps and Google advancements to make increasingly large impacts on the SEO industry. Technology is moving at breakneck speed. That’s great news for ambitious businesses, but bad news for folks who’d prefer to maintain the status quo.

Looking ahead, we predict these 10 SEO trends will set the tone through 2016:

1. Quality video content will become more valuable than written content.
Content is king, right? Until now, written content has been the gold standard. Going forward, though, video content will become increasingly important, and 2016 may be the year it surpasses written content. That’s because video content — which can take the form of videos, animations, dynamic infographics and more — is much more engaging and shareable than text.

Not only are videos taking over social media and many of the most popular apps, but Google is also experimenting with embedding video ads within search results. The bottom line is that social media and mobile devices are the driving force in online interaction, and social media prioritizes user experience over traditional SEO signals. That’s why video may get a leg up.

2. Search queries will change as more people search the Web by speaking into their phones.
When searching Google for running shoes, a person might type “running shoes men” or “trail running shoes” into the search bar. But that same person would likely make a completely different query if speaking it aloud: “Find running shoes for men in Seattle.” Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Now — the digital assistants that are built into new smartphones — are changing the nature of online search queries. As a result, content that contains more colloquial and conversational long-tail keywords are more likely to be rewarded by Google’s ever-evolving algorithms.

3. Social media posts will be indexed by Google.
If you didn’t already believe that social media would profoundly impact search results, then you should believe it now. Google has already started to display Twitter and Facebook content in mobile search results. More social media platforms are expected to be similarly indexed throughout the next year, highlighting the importance of strong social media marketing to go hand-in-hand with SEO optimization efforts.

4. Deep links on apps will become as important as deep links on the Web.
Apps are tailor-made to thrive on mobile devices, and it’s not hard to believe that people may eventually use apps more than they visit websites. This is why Google started indexing apps, and it’s why more apps will be indexed throughout 2016. App developers can take advantage of this trend by creating sharable deep links that can be easily viewed and shared. Deep links are highly valuable for website SEO, and deep links on apps could soon be just as meaningful.

5. Local search results will become even more focused.
The proliferation of smartphones with GPS apps is driving search results to be increasingly local. Now, people have smart watches and other wearable gear equipped with that same technology. That’s why local searches are expected to become even more hyper-local as the year goes on. Want to find the best Italian restaurant near you? Coming soon, search results won’t be optimized by just city and state — they’ll be optimized by your street, neighborhood or district.

6. Real-time updates to Google’s search algorithms will keep webmasters and SEO experts on their toes.
Google usually rolls out its algorithm updates in large chunks. However, Google may start launching real-time updates to its Panda and Penguin algorithms, which were implemented to weed out thin and black-hat websites from the search rankings. Webmasters and SEO experts who already go the extra mile to stay ahead of the curve may not be significantly impacted by real-time updates, but nobody will be able to rest on their laurels if Google ups the frequency of its algorithm adjustments.

7. Top organic search positions may have diminishing returns.
Until now, a top ranking in organic search results guaranteed hefty amounts of traffic — but that was before standard results competed with video ads and social media posts for clicks. As Google places more dynamic and engaging content along with its top-ranked results — and as other search engines eventually follow suit — then those once formidable rankings may experience diminishing returns. This highlights the need to diversify SEO and social media efforts heading into 2016.

8. Google’s rich answers will make websites with unique or proprietary information more valuable.
Did you know that Google responds to more than one-in-three search queries with a rich answer? These automatic answers to people’s search queries appear to the right of the organic results, and they can completely negate any need to visit actual websites. Not only is this bad news for websites with content that’s readily available anywhere, but Google is working hard to make rich answers even more thorough. That said, websites containing unique or proprietary content could benefit greatly from rich answers, which typically include links to their sources of information. This is one more way for quality content producers to create success in SEO campaigns.

9. Page load optimization will matter more than ever.
Pages that load faster rank better in Google — that’s a known fact. In addition, large websites that load slowly may not be completely indexed by Google’s bots, effectively wasting your SEO efforts. But there’s more. Snappy, properly performing landing pages are more likely to gain traction on social media, while under-performing websites are more likely to have high bounce rates. Advertisers will also find that slow-loading landing pages are also prone to higher costs in Facebook because of the platform’s emphasis on quality user experiences.

10. Mobile website optimization will surpass desktop optimization.
Mobile Internet usage outpaced desktop Internet usage more than two years ago, and since then search algorithms have been shifting to reflect users’ priorities. We predict 2016 will be the year that mobile website optimization in certain industries will matter more than desktop optimization for overall SEO strategies. It’s not just website presentation that’s driving this seismic shift — it’s also the rising importance of apps and social media. Expect mobile optimization to not only surpass desktop, but to eventually leave it in the dust.

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Optimizing Your Video: Expert Answers to 10 Important Questions

Marketing is pivotal to increasing the virality of your video content. Businesses are using video more as a integral part of their marketing mix. However, what good is video if no one knows where to find it? You can spend a million dollars producing the most cinematic 30 seconds of your career and only get 20 views on YouTube if you don’t optimize the video. In this post, digital marketing specialists Jose Victor Castellanos and John D. Saunders from Unity Digital Marketing, took the time to answer some very important questions on optimizing video.

Marketing is pivotal to increasing the virality of your video content.

Businesses are using video more as a integral part of their marketing mix.

However, what good is video if no one knows where to find it?

You can spend a million dollars producing the most cinematic 30 seconds of your career and only get 20 views on YouTube if you don’t optimize the video. In this post, digital marketing specialists Jose Victor Castellanos and John D. Saunders from Unity Digital Marketing, took the time to answer some very important questions on optimizing video.

Q. Why is it important to optimize video once you’ve posted it on YouTube or your website?
A. Catellanos: “Because the Search Engines are designed to read and index HTML on web pages, not electronic files (video). Video without a title and description will not index well on the Google and Yahoo search engines

Q. How do you properly backlink your videos, podcasts and screencasts?
A. Catellanos: YouTube has a feature in the Video Manager drop down when you edit the video known as Annotations. This feature is excellent for maximizing your video’s marketability, so be sure to read this section carefully.

Q. Is it important to use proper grammar and spelling? Is it okay to abbreviate or use acronyms?
A. Saunders: Proper spelling is crucial. If you have misspelled a word, the search engine’s may not find your video. Perform a spell check, and have someone else read what you’ve written.

Q. What happens if you have a broken link for your video?
A. Catellanos: In the event that you have a video posted on your website that was embedded from YouTube, once you delete that video from YouTube, you should replace it with another video. (Don’t forget to remove the code.) If someone is searching for video on your website and they aren’t able to view it, they may leave or “bounce.” The Bounce Rate is something that can greatly affect your ranking. A little maintenance will go a long way.

Q. What does the Google Keyword Planner do and how is that different from the YouTube Keyword Tool?
A. Catellanos: Google’s Keyword Planner is geared for Google searches. YouTube’s Keyword tool is just for searching within YouTube. When you are filling out the description use the keywords most used in Google. This will get better results unless you are looking for a YouTube following.

Q. Is it necessary to include a location or your geo targeted market?
A. Catellanos: “Only if you are a small business that wants to do business locally or within a certain area. Be careful if your target market is worldwide or nation wide, posting your immediate area can limit you.

Q. Does the number of times that you use a keyword make a difference? What is the proper amount and does the length of content matter?
A. Saunders: The number of times a keyword is used can be vital to the success of any video marketing. Your keyword should be included in your title as well as your description. Your keywords should take up approximately 3 percent of the text. Be careful not to overload your content with the keyword too much.

Q. Does refreshing your content help?
A. Catellanos: “This can depend on what you are doing. Sometimes updating the content can cause the search engines to think it’s new, and therefore longevity and amount of interest (number of views) tends to give you seniority in the search ranks. Be cautious when updating if you take down a video or replace it with something new.

Q. Is it important to title your video exactly the way someone would search for it on Google?
A. Catellanos: Yes. The closest you can come to how someone would be looking for your product or service the better. Exact matches heed better results.

Q: If you get penalized as being a spammer, can that affect how Google ranks you in other areas of the Internet?
A. Saunders: Yes, you can be flagged and they can block your YouTube account. They can also put blocks on other social media sites that you are associated with.

If you’re going to spend time and money creating your videos and you want to make the best use of them, follow these guidelines and your video marketing will be far more useful. You want to remember that it’s a video, not text. Search engines are designed to read text not watch a video. While it’s great to create video it’s only effective if you have the video optimized.