Google Panda has made the news again, thanks to the number of websites requiring Google Penalty recovery services after experiencing drastic drops in their page ranking. The 4.2 update is the slowest rollout, with different pages of a website affected at different periods. Unlike previous updates, however, Panda 4.2 targets infrastructure change that will enable Google to make gradual and continuous updates in the algorithm.
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Panda may have been the most noticeable, but SEO experts say that Google uses 200 different signals and numerous combinations of these signals that affect a website’s search engine result page (SERP). Here is a list of the top 15 SEO ranking factors you should pay attention to in 2016 to ensure your continued success.
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Main keyword in title
The title is an integral part of the article because in a sense, it is what draws the search engine crawlers to your website. Experts say that you should use the main keyword in the title, but make sure that is is used organically so that the title still sounds interesting and relevant.
Keyword in domain name
If it is still available, use your primary keywords in your domain name. This has been a long-time practice, and it is still as effective as it has been in the past. This way, search engine spiders will be able to find relevant pages on your site more easily.
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Age of domain name
The older your domain name is, the better. This means that if your website has been around for a long time, then its possible that your audience are finding your content useful.
Keywords in H1 and H2 tags
In the same way that spiders like keywords in the title, they love it when keywords are present in the headings.
Headings help organize the article, hence enabling users to see immediately what you have to say about a certain topic.
Gone are the days of 200 to 300 word articles. The new order of business is: the lengthier your article is, the better. The idea is simple: useful articles do not scrounge on words, but focuses instead on its message.
Low keyword density
Keywords have to be used strategically and naturally in the article or else you risk of getting penalized for keyword stuffing. SEO experts concur that you limit keyword usage of up no more than 3% of the entire article – that’s roughly 3 to 4 occurences in a 1,000 word article.
Relevant content has to be updated constantly – after all, there is no fixed knowledge in the world. In this highly dynamic world, there are many things to write about. There are technological advances and new trends – write about them, help spread the word and get a higher SERP in the process.
Uses images and videos
In an era of social media, you need images and videos to strengthen your message. Note, however that text content is still important – unless you’re running an online gallery of photographs and a collection of videos.
Website speed and mobile-optimization
If your website does not open in 2 seconds, then you are in hot waters. If your website cannot be viewed properly on a mobile screen, then you are in a whole lot of trouble. People are busy, and are always on the go – your website has to be able to provide information when it is needed or else, down in the SERPs you go.
How many websites refer back to your website? What sort of content do they offer? In the online world, as in the real world, there is an important saying you have to take note of: tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.
The W3 Consortium was made to enure that all websites conform to international coding standards, hence ensuring your website to be viewed in the same way in any screen. W3 validation is a plus point – so make time for it.
Sitemap for your website
Search engine crawlers need something to direct their visit to your website. Make it easy for them to index your website and relevant pages through a sitemap.
Penguin safe and relevant backlinks
Never buy links from a link farm. Not only are they costly, they are bound to be marked as spammy backlinks and could damage your online reputation.
Avoid duplicate content
As has been mentioned earlier, there are many things to write about, and there are a variety of ways to write them. Tap into your inner genius – don’t copy content from another website. Not only will this penalize your SERP, it is also plagiarism so you could get sued over duplicate content.
Social media is a powerful tool if you want to get the word out about your website. Your goal is to become “viral”. If your content has an important message to convey, then you won’t have a problem attaining this status in the relevant circles.
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SEO is more important than ever, as more and more businesses realize the untapped potential of the internet. Take note, however that in the end, Google’s goal is to streamline their customer’s decision making journey. Their ultimate goal is to ensure that their clients are able to get what they need in the most efficient way. SEO is all relevant and useful content – that is the most important signal to rank high in the SERPs.