By Kristopher Jones, founder and CEO of LSEO.com.
As search engine algorithms become smarter on a daily basis, businesses -- both local and enterprise level --must keep clean SEO techniques at the forefront. The days of black hat SEO tactics, such as keyword stuffing, hidden text, link schemes and rich snippet markup spam, are long gone.
White hat SEO is a must for any digital marketing campaign in 2017. Based on Searchmetrics' 2016 Rebooting Ranking Factors study of Google's top search ranking factors, content and user intentions were Google's top focus that year -- a trend that will continue to be prevalent this year.
Focusing on content and how it directly influences user factors, such as click-through rates (CTR) and bounce rates, let's discuss what white hat SEO techniques will keep your ranking results positive.
Keep Content Relevant and High Quality
Content is king, so keep it relevant, include only the highest-quality expertise on the subject matter, and make sure grammar is correct. The No.1 goal of any type of content is to problem solve. Make sure your content solves problems, adds value and entertains. If you can cover these elements with a passionate outlook on your industry, your content will surpass the competition.
Algorithms and humans can quickly spot thin and irrelevant content, which can dissolve any website authority you may have. If you hire writers and editors, find the best even though they're an added expense. Never let something lacking in relevance or quality go live.
Consider Your Content's Length and Keywords
There was a time when a post could be a few hundred words and rank well. Though this is still true in some cases, top industry players have longer-form content. According to a serpIQ study, the average content length of the top 10 results on search engine results pages was more than 2,000 words.
This shows algorithms that you're trying to educate viewers by offering more information and, naturally, leads to more keyword opportunities. In addition, you'll want to have keyword-optimized title tags to ensure consistency in your webpage's indexing and ranking.
Refurbish Old Content
Outdated content makes your site look stale from both an algorithm and user perspective. You can delete or use a 301 redirect (this sends users to the new URL, which is time-consuming) for old content, but your best option is to refurbish it. Refurbishing old content keeps the page fresh and improves its quality because you're giving it a new feel with a modern perspective.
Go through and update your old content, but do so wisely. For example, you could make a static URL for an events page without specifying the year, and update that page yearly. In other words, start an archives page on the original URL instead of simply deleting old content. This will also give the original URL more authority by strengthening its domain every year.
Pay Attention to Other Top-Ranking Factors
The other top ranking factors heading into 2017 are user intentions, such as click-through rates, bounce rates and time on site (TOS). Good content will naturally lead to these user factors.
According to data from Contently, 35 percent of readers spend less than 30 seconds engaging with downloadable content, so make sure the opening sentence and lead image/graphic is engaging. As well, edit every sentence for accuracy and grammatical structure -- the secret to good writing is rewriting. Each piece of content needs a strong title to draw in readers.
Spend as much thought as necessary on titles as you do the content creation itself. Content creators should write titles instead of SEOs or web developers, since keyword-rich titles alone aren't as effective as relevancy.
White hat SEO has been in favor for many years now and will continue to be in favor as long as businesses are marketing themselves online. Due to the increased presence of machine learning throughout algorithms, search engines are continually becoming smarter.
These algorithms can immediately recognize low-quality content and discredit a website. A feasible way to battle this is by implementing the white hat content-building techniques above.
Kristopher B. Jones is a prominent internet entrepreneur, investor, public speaker, best-selling author and the founder and CEO of LSEO.com.