As we begin 2016, a hot topic for marketers has been the changes in SEO this year. Multiple platforms, Google Search, and a handful of other inbound marketing techniques have changed how leading companies are optimizing search rankings for their companies.

To get more info on how to stand out from the competition in SEO this year, I talked to John Stover, CEO of Best SEO Firm.

Here's some takeaways from our interview together.

1. What's the number one mistake you see companies make in SEO?

This is a tough question to answer, because I could give you a laundry list of mistakes I see companies making. If I had to pick one, I would say the biggest mistake is lack of education. Not knowing what they are being sold, leads to them being taken advantage of. Mostly by paying way to much for what they are getting. Proper SEO will cost you a good amount of money, but if your SEO guys rolls up in his brand new Porsche, it's a pretty good sign, you're being taken advantage of.

I always try to educate my clients as well as businesses whom are not my clients, to educate themselves about SEO, at least from a fundamental standpoint. It will only save you money in the long run.

2. How has SEO changed in the last year or so?

The environment has changed immensely in the last couple years. I've seen a lot of the low level players get knocked out of the game, because you can't get a fast ROI like you used to. Pre-Penguin, it was any one's game. All you have to do was follow a simple step by step process and you could be ranking on the first page within literally days. There was a time when I ranked #1 for a term that was driving more than 5,000 UVs per day and making me 6 figures per month. It took me 4 months. Google's algorithm was way too easy to game.

Then came the first Penguin update in April of 2012 and it changed the game forever. These days, SEO is all about looking natural with your link building. On-page optimization is more important than ever. It's also a long term play. Google has built in a lot of barriers to thwart off spammers (Blackhatter). The algorithm has also gotten much more sophisticated. The age of artificial intelligence is upon us (Rankbrain, TL*IDF, Knowledge Graph, etc...). The learning curve is a lot steeper, so you need to constantly be educating yourself and keeping up with the industry.

3. What SEO techniques should every company know?

I'll give you a couple. First, proper on-page is essential for the company's success. You need to learn fundamental aspects such as how to properly structure your meta tags, your H tags, and your title tags. You also need to make sure your content is top notch. I like to use a software program by OnPage.org. The TL*IDF module, analyzes the top 20 competitors content and tells you what keywords to use in your content, to have the best chance of ranking. You also have basic aspects, such as your site architecture, and schema markup.

The other important aspect is, concentrating on your brand building type links. Citations like Yellow Pages, Google Local For Business, Yahoo Local, and Yelp are essential. You should also have your social media accounts set up. If you only choose one, Facebook is a must in my opinion. Then you want to look for niche specific links. For example, if you are a dentist, you should be listed in specific health and dental directories like Healthgrades.com and Doctoroogle.com. It's then important to maintain these profiles, by updating your information, asking your clients for reviews, and adding content where possible.

Published on: Jan 20, 2016