If you wouldn’t use the same technology you used five years ago, why would you use the same SEO practices?

SEO (search engine optimization) has changed more than most people may realize. In fact, Google revises its search algorithms hundreds of times in a single year.

Word of caution: As a regular Internet user, those changes likely aren’t noticeable, but as a website owner, not keeping up with these updates can seriously reduce your site’s visibility.

So take a deep breath, and get ready. It’s time to take a hard look at your SEO tactics and align your efforts with today’s best practices.

Links: Quality Over Quantity

Previously, building as many links as possible was considered an effective SEO tactic. Today, building links is still an important way to rank, but there has been a shift in focus from quantity to quality. Since the Penguin 2.0 update in 2013, websites should prioritize the quality of the links they build rather than try simply to achieve sheer volume of links.

What does this mean for me?

The best way to judge the quality of a link is simple: Ask yourself, does it offer value for users? Quality links are relevant to your site and fit naturally within their context.

Take note: Google penalizes websites for bad links, so take the time to really understand the scope of linking do’s and don’ts.

Keywords: Strategy Over Repetition

Keyword optimization used to be all about exact matches. Since 2004 though, Google’s latent semantic indexing (LSI) system has been changing best practices for how to use keywords for SEO. LSI crawls through web pages to identify the most common words/phrases as the keywords for that content, as well as synonyms that relate to your target keywords.

What does this mean for me?

It’s simple. Keywords still matter, but the main goal of your content should be creating value for your user. By using related terms and synonyms in your writing, LSI will still be able to determine what your search-related goals are without you needing to always use keywords verbatim.

Take note: Repeating the same keyword too many times within a single piece of content (called “overstuffing”) could cause your site’s ranking to be penalized by Google.

Getting Friendly With Mobile

“Mobilegeddon” is here. Actually it happened in 2015, when Google officially determined the mobile-friendliness of websites as a ranking factor. Though many weren’t surprised by this update, not all sites were modified accordingly. During the two months after the update, non-mobile-friendly websites saw a 12% drop in traffic from Google mobile searches compared to mobile-friendly websites.

What does this mean for me?

The truth is there’s no excuse for not making your website mobile-friendly. With 60% of Internet usage in the U.S. last year occurring on a mobile device, it’s more important than ever for websites to use responsive website design. Doing so helps users navigate your site easily and conveniently no matter what device they’re on, and your site’s ranking will get a boost from being mobile-friendly.

Take note: Not sure whether Google considers your site mobile-friendly? They offer a handy tool to help you find out.

User Reactions are Priority

There’s a common theme linking most SEO updates— positive user experience. The top ranking factors of 2015 were all user signals like CTR, time on page, and bounce rate. These metrics are real-life indicators of a user’s experience on a website and help search algorithms judge the relevance between the intention of a search and its result.

What does this mean for me?

There’s no real trick or hack for how to increase your SEO results. Users can see past such tactics instantly. The best way to get users to interact with your website is to produce content that users will want to interact with.

Take note: Consider how embedded images, well-structured content, interactive components, and other elements that enhance a user’s experience could be integrated into your site.

Reaching your SEO potential is critical for success. As you take inventory of your marketing efforts, keep in mind that leveraging links, keywords, user analytics, and other tactics the right way will put you in the right direction.

If you’re ready to start optimizing your own site, we’ve got the tool you need to take this on.