From understanding the basics of local SEO optimisation to observing Google’s on-going algorithm changes and updates, staying on top of SEO trends is enough to give any brand whiplash. Believe me. I’ve seen it. And it’s not cool.
Unquestionably, your company has probably covered the basics, you’ve claimed your Google listing for local search optimization, you’ve researched geo-specific keywords and you’ve optimised inbound anchor link text. If you haven’t done those things, you really need to get in touch!
Don’t relax just yet.
If your brand wants to be at the top of the search engine results pages in 2017, these are just the baby steps. You’ll have to nail schema markup, optimize for user search intent as well as ensure your website is as fast as possible for mobile search.
The below are just three trends which have already emerged as ‘must-dos’ for SEO in 2017. Here’s what you need to know;
Structured data markup
“Crawler friendliness” is a key Google on-site ranking factor. It’s particularly important for showing up in Google search features such as Quick Answers and Rich Card that rely greatly on machine learning. As a matter of fact, machine learning is currently Google’s third most important ranking factor. Google’s use of Quick Answers skyrocketed to more than 40% in early 2016, and we can expect an even higher increase in the coming year. So, how can you make use of structured data markup to help Google’s crawlers easily find information they need on your website?
The use of structured data markup is to describe “things” and “properties” on your site. For instance, if you run a food blog with recipes, structured data would describe the things (recipes) and the properties of these recipes (photos, user rankings, ingredient summaries, etc.). When indexing websites, Google can only get quality, server-friendly information from your site’s structured data markup. Other than that, Google would only pull any texts it deems relevant from your page and display it in that boring little blurb in organic search results.
If you use structured data markup, visitors would immediately understand that your site can provide them with the information they need – and they will click through consequently.
Nowadays, more searches are done through mobile devices than desktop computers. In fact, more than 70% of internet traffic now comes from a mobile device!
Accordingly, the Mobile market grew three times faster for ecommerce websites in 2015 – 2016. Even if a mobile search doesn’t instantly lead to an online purchase, the search still plays a key role in a customers purchasing decision process.
According to Search Engine Watch, Deloitte evaluates the impact of mobile search to be close to £970 billion on offline purchases.
In a mobile-first world, speed counts. Almost half of all visitors will move on from a website it takes more than three seconds to load. Google’s answer was to force companies to speed up their websites.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a stripped-down form of the mobile web. AMP excludes all “extra” information regarding a web page, super-charging load speed. As this has been found to be of utmost importance to mobile surfers, Google places AMP sites at the top of organic search results when it senses that a user is on mobile device. Thus, non-AMP sites are penalized and pushed further down, irrespective of their content or relevancy.
Remember the so-called ‘MobileGeddon’ of 2015, when businesses freaked out that their websites would be penalized if they were not mobile-friendly? The new MobileGeddon is Google giving prime positioning to AMP sites; meanwhile most brands are not prepared. Luckily, the stripped-down nature of AMP makes it easy to create AMP versions of the most critical and visible aspects of your site. This is a must if you want to maintain or improve your standing in 2017’s mobile search results.
Optimize for user search intent
Well, optimizing for user search intent isn’t exactly new. The importance of optimizing for user research intent as an approach for boosting local SEO. The truth is that brands are still not making user search intent a major part of their SEO strategy. If you don’t take user search intent into account, ensure you make 2017 the year you consider doing it.
User search intent can be broken down into three major categories;
Deliver searcher immediate answer/clarification.
Bring searcher to pre-determined destination.
Assist searcher in completing a purchase or task.
When creating content for your website, you need to consciously think through how each user will arrive at a particular page.
For instance, will they arrive there in response to an informational or transactional search? Since the end goal of these two kinds of searches is different, it’s vital to understand how and why a user is getting on your site so you can immediately provide them with the information they seek whilst gearing them towards your desired outcome.
In SEO, there’s no silver bullet than can shoot your website straight to the top of search results – regardless of what many shams tell you. However, once you have the basics of SEO covered, these three strategies are vital to keeping your business competitive in 2017.
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