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SEO Trends & Tips For 2017

Tips and Tricks to Make 2017 Your Business’ Best Year Ever with SEO

In any industry, the start of a New Year requires introspection on the effectiveness of strategies implemented last year, as well as discussion about what changes in the coming year should be built into the strategy. The SEO industry is no different. Numerous articles have already been circulating that pick apart the top digital landscape changes in 2016 and what that means for 2017, even from publications not traditionally focused on SEO such as Forbes, Amazon and Small Business Trends.

A poll given to 39 top SEO experts signaled which trends they feel will have the largest impact on 2017 digital strategy. The top 5 SEO trends for 2017 according to these experts are:

  • Optimization for Mobile
  • Quality Content
  • Voice Search
  • Micro Formats
  • Artificial Intelligence

 

What do each of these mean and how can you capitalize on them in your digital strategy? Here’s a quick overview to get you started:

 

Optimization for Mobile

The myriad of Google changes towards a mobile first consideration gave us a strong indication that Google is confident this is the way the online landscape must be laid out. What were some of those indications? The biggest was the announcement of a mobile first index. Google will now be focused on indexing your mobile site first and your desktop second. If there are inconsistencies, you can bet this will affect your keyword rankings and traffic.

Quick Tips to Optimize for Mobile:

  • Make sure you have a mobile responsive site
    • Having a separate platform for mobile and desktop will no longer suffice as they serve up differing content. Having a separate platform can also restrict you from displaying or even having the same layout or content across your sites. There is also more room for human error as two platforms instead of one need to be updated. With mobile responsive sites, it’s the same content and technical layout on the same platform and can conform to the user’s screen size or device.
  • Look at your user experience on mobile
    • You should be able to account for things like fat fingers on the screen. Can your user click on your website buttons and links with ease, or are the links and buttons so close together that they can accidentally click on something else? Are your important call to actions visible to the mobile user? Can they intuitively get what they need within 5 seconds?
  • Account for your Visual Elements
    • Images and video are great but they can also slow down the load time of your mobile site. Make sure you optimize your images and video for faster loading time.
    • Make sure your website is easy to read. The recommended legible size for website font is 16 pixels, about the same size as book and magazine print, which accounts for reading distance.

Quality Content

No surprise, quality content is still king. The biggest Content take away is the concept of unique content asset diversification and unification. In terms of content asset diversification, this means having a good amount of high relevant content using the various communication vehicles such as text, images, video, social media, featured snippets and knowledge graph. Having diversification of content assets in your arsenal is not enough. You will need to unify your efforts across the board among your various marketing channels and have some cohesive brand strategy. The push towards unifying your PPC/SEM, Social Media, SEO & traditional marketing efforts affects your brand affinity and trust.

Unifying Diverse Content

  • Take a Multi-Channel Approach
    • Learn your user and consumer behavior and apply the same concepts to all your marketing channels. This builds traffic and brand cohesion, which helps in associating your brand with particular concepts.
    • Use rich snippets and knowledge graph to your advantage. Getting your content in featured snippets and knowledge graph answers positions your brand as an industry expert or leader and helps building trust with the consumer.
  • Cohesive Brand Messaging
    • Don’t use your infographics and images just for social media efforts, repurpose them through your PPC channels or website content and tie them to your brand. Don’t just advertise your specials through SEM, mention them on your website as well. Make sure your content has a purpose and is not just eye candy. Sometimes this means spelling out your content for the average user and tying it in with your brand’s value proposition. Solidify your branding. Get familiar with cognitive dissonance theory and help ease the transition for your users when moving from your social channels to your website.

Voice Search

Accounting for voice search is becoming more important with the rise of home assistant automation like Google’s Home & Amazon’s Alexa; as well as voice search platforms on your mobile phone and wearables. This means focusing on the conversational queries.

Optimizing for Voice Search

  • Understand How Your Consumers Search
    • Research how your customers are searching for you and what actions you are prompting them to make. For example, if you are a local business and the main search query for your services is “nail salons near me” make it a point to see who is on page one. If it’s a directory like Yelp, make sure your nail salon has a yelp profile. If you are a B2B, same theory applies however, it could be industry related directories.
  • Utilize FAQ Questions
    • Even B2B clients have frequently asked questions. Take advantage of the FAQs you get and answer them in a clear concise format. Make sure to pose the question and not just answer it so Google can pick up the question phrase. This will not only help you with voice search but can also help you potentially land a quick answers box on Google.

Micro Formats/Structured Data

Structured data allows search engines to easily understand what the data or text implies. Using it helps search engines understand a page is a recipe, a product is an article or even more descriptive information like “new product”, “price”, “medical clinic” etc.

Optimizing Structured Data

  • Add Business Related Schema Markup
    • When appropriate, add schema markup to your website to identify important business information. This can include specific code on your site to identify you as a local business, your hours of operation, your phone number etc.
  • Add Service or Product Related Schema
    • If you sell products, make sure you have product schema and that it is complete. For example, there is structured data for review ratings, new or used product, product price, product image etc. If you are a service, make sure to include a list of your services and add services schema or service area schema to help Google understand the area you offer your service in.

Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence

Machine learning and Artificial Intelligence is already being used to rank web documents. Google stated that RankBrain, a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that helps Google process some of its search results, is used as the third most important ranking signal. It can help with things like identifying user intent and interpreting what the searcher is looking for online. Semantic understanding, or semantic strategy, has helped capitalize on the use of artificial intelligence by helping users and search engines understand what a particular keyword or topic could be about. For example, if someone searched for “pizza near me”, semantic understanding looks for related content to pizza restaurants, locality (where the searcher is), and physical addresses tied to pizza restaurants close to that address to be able to serve up the most relevant list of searches for that query.

  • Optimize for Semantic Understanding
    • Make sure your website content has the relevant information your traffic is looking for. If you have an article about a particular concept, utilize similar phrases for your keywords and ensure that your keywords are related to each other. Build your article around that concept and make it clear.
  • Utilize Specific Words or Phrases
    • A research study done by Stone Temple Consulting found the following specific words or phrases improved with the introduction of RankBrain:
      • What is
      • Who is
      • Where is
      • Without
    • Utilize these phrases and tie them to your business. Incorporate them into your FAQs and get some answer box consideration at the same time.

2016 was a year full of drastic changes in the digital space that saw game changing algorithm shifts affecting both local and national rankings.  Staying on top of the latest trends in online marketing can help you build actionable strategies that will carry you throughout the changing tides of the New Year.

 

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