With around 600 adjustments to Google's algorithm every year, it's inevitable that SEO best practices are constantly evolving. Since the Panda, Penguin, and Hummingbird updates, every business trying to rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs) has had their work cut out. While the changes have had a massive impact on how digital marketers tackle SEO, basic values like delivering valuable content and a friendly user experience remain as important as ever. Still, every business needs to respond to the latest changes to stay relevant to Google. Here are some steps you need to take to keep your SEO strategy on track.

Improve Your Website's Social Signals

Since Hummingbird, a strong social presence is now vital to maximize SEO. As well as driving traffic and building brand awareness, more engagement via social media shows Google that your brand is relevant. Distributing content to the right social platforms is key. What's the point in spending time on Facebook if the majority of your target audience are on LinkedIn? Prioritize your social presence and make sure your website includes appropriate connect buttons (e.g. Follow on Twitter, Follow on LinkedIn) and your content features share buttons (e.g. like, tweet).

Get on Board With Google+ and Authorship

The rise of Google+ is having a definite impact on SEO. With authenticity playing an increasingly important role with Google, businesses should be signing up for Google+ Pages to get their brand recognized and build customer support. With this authentic link from your business site to Google+, you're more likely to be rewarded with higher search engine rankings. Google Authorship is yet another sign that a solid content strategy with relevant, useful, and engaging content is increasingly important to SEO.

Accommodate Local Search

The rise of mobile devices and local search queries led to Google updating their algorithm to cater more for local queries. Localization in SEO is now more important than ever, especially if you own a small business or run multiple outlets. It's crucial that you register your business on Google Places and Google+ Local. Optimizing content for local keywords and getting local reviews on Google+ and third-party sites are key to driving more traffic. Increasing the number of genuine citations (with your business name, address, and phone number) across online channels will also help authenticate your business to Google.

Incorporate Mobile

In some countries, mobile searches have surpassed desktop searches, and this trend is set to grow. If you're not already planning to move to a responsive or mobile website, the time is now. Most SEO experts agree that sites not optimized for mobile devices will be penalized by Google. With user experience also playing a part in search engine rankings, having a responsive or mobile website is key to reducing bounce rates and boosting SEO.

Deliver More Authentic Content

Hummingbird has changed the way publishers should think about creating content. While it used to be about giving search engine crawlers enough keywords to boost your "relevance", businesses need to be more focused on creating genuine, valuable content. Think about topics, not keywords. What topics do your audience want to hear about and share? What do they type in search boxes? Featuring higher in SERPs is now much more connected to credible, high quality content that beats the competition.

Focus on Titles and Headlines

How do you improve engagement and boost brand awareness? Pay more attention to headlines and titles of social media and blog posts. It's been said a thousand times before, but it's still the case that people are drawn toward compelling headlines. They don't have to be keyword-rich. The main aim is to get people to click on your posts and create links to your content. Links will do more for your SEO strategy than keywords. However, with other types of content - ecommerce pages, for example - title tags and heading tags should still be optimized for SEO with appropriate keyphrases to establish relevance.

The Bottom Line

There are no shortcuts to business success, and it's the same with SEO. Use some of these techniques to keep your SEO strategy on track (for the time being). Google's algorithm will keep evolving, so it's up to you to keep up with the latest trends. Ultimately, if you continue to create genuinely valuable content, engage with your audience via social media, and deliver a user-friendly website experience, your search engine rankings will automatically improve over time.

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