Getting to the First Page on Google — SERPS in 2016

Wendy Kelly
May 10, 2016

The playing field has opened up, but the game has not changed.

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One of my favourite SEO's, Ann Smarty, recently joined SEMrushChat to discuss how to get onto the first page of Google in 2016.

SERP 2016

So much has changed. Now it's not a simple ranking in the top three organic listings. It's not even about paid versus organic. Now you've got:

  • Local Packs
  • Knowledge Graph
  • Answer Boxes
  • Product Listings
  • Reviews
  • Video Related 
  • Google Carousel 
  • More...

Each one of these listings is great for people searching for what they need. What's offered gives specific information highly tailored to what is actually being asked.

As Google notes, when people are searching for calories in an avocado, for example, they generally don't want the history of the avocado in a long-form article with lots of images, anecdotes and the like.

They want the stupid number. And that's it.

With Answer Boxes, that's what they get. In fact, with the options of several drop down boxes, searchers have the chance to get their quick answer and then some.

So What Should the Content Creator Do?

Well, before we go any further, check out this excellent article over at Orbit Media. Seriously excellent advice on how to tackle the new search for 2016. It's a lot like the old search but more intelligent. {What did you think I was going to say?}

In 2016, things look more real than they ever have.

Posts that turn up in Answer Boxes tend to, you know, answer questions in a succinct fashion. The blog post sets out to be very "Wikipedia-like" and clearly asks, then answers, a question. It's a how-to or a list post. 

These types of posts are not new. We've been writing them for ages. It's just that now, we have the opportunity of not only getting solid readership and shares from writing informative content, we also have the chance of landing in an Answer Box. Which is pretty cool.

How About Local Search?

Local search has opened up and there are lots of opportunities for ranking now. Again, it's the same as before but with more intelligence and usefulness.

One thing that sends all the right signals is making sure your customers are happy. See what Google is doing there? If you've got real, authentic, happy customers who are willing and eager to share their good experience and leave you gold stars, you get rewarded.

And why not?

Focus Past Google

Sometimes, it's just not possible to rank. Because of your industry, seasonal variations, or lack of time and commitment, you're not on the first page or even close.

Though you should still keep trying, that's not to say that there aren't other places to go to get traffic, leads, and conversions.

Paying for advertising on Facebook, Google and elsewhere is an option, and a good strategy for most business to use.

However, beyond that, old school methods like developing an email list and getting your own community involved and thriving never fails. Keeping the intelligent content flowing consistently and getting shares and comments is also key.

Speed and Performance

Last, especially if you want to rank on mobile, performance is your friend. Make sure your site is lightening fast and is, well, "mobile-first" - what you are saying is clear as a bell and where you want people to go is easy to navigate. 

And start thinking about AMPs (Accelerated Mobile Pages) because these babies are going to be popping up everywhere, and you're going to want to be in on the action. Using stripped-down html, they offer a lightweight version of your page to mobile browsers and are favoured by the likes of Google. Learn more about the ins and outs of AMPs in this MOZ White Board Friday.

Pictures Speak Louder Than Words...

Using an awesome image to draw readers in always helps. Add video if it's relevant, and more than one image if it makes sense.

Use best practices for your images but use at least one image.

Content is Still the Name of the Game

In 2016, we're still searching for information, and when we find someone out there who answers our questions, gives us more information, and provides it with a level of trust and authority, we are happy.

As I have said so many times before, we can reverse engineer this for when we are the ones hoping to be searched for. When we think like our audience, we win. When we anticipate what they need and then offer it to them, when they want it and where they were looking for it we win. The playing field has opened up slightly, with more opportunities to be found, but the game has not changed.

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