SEO Recommendations for 2016+

(Things to know and consider)

– The last 3 years have erased a decade of “old school SEO practices”

– Google has figured out “user intent”, and getting better at it.

– Google looks at language used, not just keywords.

– Now uses “machine learning” to feed ranking determinations (over a Google employee’s input) and “deep learning” to make adjustments (aka – algorithms that build algorithms).

– Google punishes “duplicate content” in search by demoting it.

– Awards diversity, freshness, and uniqueness in content.

– Google now ID’s known “entities of knowledge” resulting in connecting entities to topics.

– Recognizes brands as a forms of entity, rewarding branding when appropriate to content.

– Google may evolve to a simpler criteria for ranking articles that include: engagement, high CTR, and low page bounce – based on this, it is likely that ranking will become even more dynamic than it is now with results changing throughout the day. (future…)


SEO – New Directives for 2016+

“The content on higher ranking pages are becoming noted as:
better structured, containing more interactive elements and is thus more comprehensible and interpretable for both users and the bot.”

1- Word Count

Content (word count) recommendations for 2015+ are:

250-500 min

1000 recommended

2000+ reported as the measured length of many of the top ranking articles

This doesn’t mean a piece of content will rank if it’s lengthy, though it certainly is a determining factor when comparing apples to apples. The primary reason for a SEO resurgence in content length is based on search engine algorithm changes (2013-2015) that analyze phrases and words for the use of comparison to competing articles and the agenda to deliver the best choice material for a given query. Search engines are now utilizing “machine learning” over Google’s direct input.

REF (several articles):

REF Fact:

SerpIQ conducted an interesting correlation study comparing the length of content to top rankings, which decidedly favors content with 2,000-2,500 words

2- QDF – Quality Deserves Freshness

(The full name of this one is technically “fresh content when query deserves freshness”)

Essentially freshness now matters to search


Always make an effort to refresh old content. A general rule is while creating “new and unique” content, also make it a side agenda to refresh old content when applicable (time permitting)

3- Salience of Entities

As time goes on, Google seems to do more to analyze ideas and logical entities in preference to words and phrases. It analyzes how we say things in preference to exact search queries that appear on a page. This process, in simple terms, is what’s making it possible to search for “how to cook meat”, and be returned results for steak recipes that might not mention the word “meat” directly anywhere.

The significance of the factor “keyword” continues to decline in most sectors. Instead it is a question of holistically optimizing topics, i.e. rationally associated groupings of keywords and the concept of entities.”

4- More use of Rich Media (videos, relevant images)

Google now uses machine learning to analyze images for relevancy, and to recognize shapes and patterns for their relationship to the content and proximity. In addition, rich media is highly recommended as increasing the “user experience” of content and is a common factor found in many of the highest ranking pages

“Videos are able to greatly improve the user experience on the provider’s website and also increase time on site.”

6- De-promote / De-Value thin content to improve Robust content

It’s now usually beneficial to improve the average quality of content in search engines, while using ‘noindex’ on pages that are doomed to be repetitive and uninteresting, such as blog “tag” pages and forum user profiles.  (Or old content, obsolete content, orphan content (content without a home or link to it)

7- Focus on Bounce rates: (especially key Landing Pages)

Material must be relevant to users and search engines. High bounce rates on a landing page may indicate that the page may require action to improve the page. A high bounce rate sends negative signals back to Google (This factor is expected to increase as a criteria for ranking)

8- Stronger Landing Pages
Strong landing pages have been long recommended as pages holding more potential to earn rankings in SERPS over a site’s general pages. This is due to a few reasons, The URL is closer to the homepage (root of your site) serving as a portal/hub to other pages within. Landing pages in general are usually regarded by Google as being more authoritative
‘Higher ranking URLs are shorter – position 1 is reserved for the shortest URLs because this is where homepages rank most often”

9- Consider more usage of “Branded keyword phrases”
Branded queries have become more important to entity authority (Truven as an entity).
Branded keywords are now being recommended as a way to pass more authority to both the entity and the keyword phrase. A good example would be that the query for “Truven payment integrity” sends a stronger signal to Google than a user just using “payment integrity” and locating Truven’s ranking page in the SERPS.

10- Long Tail keywords still Matter!
Unique “long tail” searches comprise the majority of the world’s searches, so don’t be afraid to target less trafficked keyword themed pages with the trade-off of gaining very special users/interest.

Long tail keywords are those three and four keyword phrases which are very, very specific to whatever you are selling.

11- Scrutinize Internal Search Queries
(queries made while using the search box)

User Intent and User Experience are crucial to Google’s agenda of ranking highly relative best content. Continued analysis of user search queries while on Truven’s site is a step towards understanding exactly what this “best content” might be

12- Structure: Enhance page content with structure (Heading tags are key)
As google continues to award pages that offer better user experience thru structure, heading tags (headers to sections within your content – AKA  H2, H3, H4)  are gaining leverage as a way to increase your content’s readability).

Note: Content should still utilize a single (H1) Page Header per page.

When on the page itself, the presence of H1 and H2 provide a header structure to outline the text on the page – these elements enhance the user experience.

A good method to use is to answer questions in your article from a user standpoint. This may” also at some point in the future “trigger” one of those coveted “Google Answer boxes” (if Google finds it appropriate). The better a page solves solutions, the more it may add value back to users and search engines

A Takeaway for Thought:
Do a search for the desired keyword theme, then take a look at what page/and site is ranking #1.
When you create your article/page it should be under the condition that you are creating a page that needs to be conceptually and informatively 10X better than “that” page

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