In the spirit of a state of the union address, we thought we’d update you on the state of search engine optimization in 2016.

We just returned from a high-level SEO conference and find that everything that is old is new again. By that we mean that what has been working for the past two years (good links from relevant sites, good content that engages visitors, social proof) is still working. And working well.

The new monkey wrench in the organic equation is the fact that Google is launching new offerings – all of which appear before the coveted organic spots. Some niches have four Adwords ad listings. Others have something called Position 0 which is a snippet of information that is boxed and appears before the the #1 organic listing. These are something to shoot for as they occupy a great deal of real estate on the first page of the search engine results pages and confer prestige and authority on the subject of the snippet.

If you are looking to improve the content on your site and the quality of your links, consider making an important contribution to the knowledgebase of your particular business or niche. Especially if the topic is cutting edge technology or a way of doing something that is innovative, others in your industry will want to link to it from their sites (or at least give you attribution). Links from these relevant industry sites will do a great deal to improve your rankings. Another benefit is that you become well known as a leader in your industry and that has other, offline benefits, to you.

There is a reason why we at Chicago SEO Pros concentrate on leads for our clients. No business can survive very long without a pipeline full of prospects that can eventually turn into sales someday. All the social proof and links in the world won’t help your bottom line if there isn’t the potential for a lead attached to it. Ranking highly in the organic results is one way to get qualified leads into your sales funnel.