The now famous 200+ Google ranking factors have become a popular cornerstone of SEO and at their heart is the aim to make the best websites shine the brightest. On a daily basis we are asked to help clients get their SEO essentials right and we find that the best advice is often the most simple. For example, build an authentic website with quality content and develop a strong brand, instead of obsessing about potential ranking signals.

Many SEO signals are already widely known, like keywords in titles, but what will be the most important things to watch out for in 2016? Below are a few signals that could affect your rankings so why not follow our advice and improve your SEO prospects for the New Year?

Be aware of Google’s ranking factors: In truth, the algorithms produced by Google are a complex matrix with thousands of variations. Make sure you are familiar with at least the key points.

Be Who You Say You Are: Contact Info must match your ‘Who Is?’ info. Authenticity is important.

Oldies Are Goodies: Backlink age – older links have more power. Poor quality websites linked to your website are not a good idea.

Don’t Scratch Too Many Backs: Google does not like the obsessive exchange of links. So, if you are going to do it, make sure you strike a sensible balance.

Be A Real Person: Auto-generated content is also one of Google’s dislikes. Therefore, if you are producing computer created copy, beware as you may be penalised. By the way, grammar and spelling count too, so always proof read your web copy carefully!

Pop Out Pop Ups: Tempted to create Pop-up ads? Our advice is don’t, they are generally seen as a poor user experience and will impact upon your SEO.

Google Likes Google: Registration of your site with Google Local or Google Business will be a positive move.

Links That Mean Something: Make sure that internal links have genuine value. Internal link popularity can be a good signal of usefulness to visitors.

Stronger Branding Counts: One of the more contentious factors from the list of over 200 signals, that have done the rounds concerns how LinkedIn can influence your SEO. Having staff profiles on LinkedIn in addition to your business page has been claimed to be beneficial to SEO. Indirectly, this may well be the case, as the stronger your brand the more you will generate traffic, attract links and have a higher profile. Google does consider social media in its algorithms but just how it goes about this is still unclear.

Let’s Play Tag: Tags that are assigned to the page may affect rank.

From The Highest Authority: Links from domains with restricted access – like .edu., .gov. are a good signal pointing toward an authentic site.

Time Well Spent: Average time spent on a page will be an indicator of whether this is quality content or not. Keep visitors on the page – maybe with video or strong content. However – slow loading pages are not good.

Deception Is A Downer: Don’t cloak your IP address! Manipulation, deception and hiding your true self are all red flags of bad intent and are the ways of web sinners!

Delete The Repeat: Excessive repetition of anchor text to a page is not good.

I Link, Therefore I Am: Too many links from a site owned by the same registrant is a bit ‘me, me, me’ for Google and can look like you are trying too hard to bolster your websites in an unnatural way.

Are you content with your content?: Good content attracts and retains visitors and visitor numbers are essential. Make sure your content is the best it can be and don’t forget, that’s not just the words but the pictures too!