SEO is ever evolving at lightning speed, and integration of many concepts is soon becoming the key to accomplishing competitive dominance. In the ever-changing visage that is SEO, the game always favors those who stay ahead of their opponents. Yes, “Google” is the Holy Grail of all search engines. However, these experts are trend followers, early adopters and web experts who have grown along with the Internet. SEO professionals will always tell you how Google, the mega search engine, is constantly updating its algorithm to rank the best web pages for specific user search queries. Business owners are always on their toes, reading between the lines and staying aware of Google’s changing search algorithms from Hummingbird and Panda to Pigeon and Penguin.
The beginning of the year is a brilliant time to examine the digital marketing panorama. And adjusting content and SEO strategy to match the oncoming SEO landscape becomes crucial. When evolution happens, it always pays to move in the direction of the trends.
To stay ahead in SEO race, we have come up with an SEO checklist for 2017:
- User Experience
Google has gone out of ways to show that it cares about the users. Maintaining a digital environment that elevates UX has drastically increased searches coming from portable platforms like mobile phones and tablets. SEO practices that interrupt immersive user experience are soon getting the flack, whereas those that enhance it are seeing higher search results.
People today carry out focused searches on the go, research services or products, and these are highly dominated by voice search. That is why SEO efforts should focus toward improving user experience especially on mobile devices.
- UEO (User Experience Optimization):
Google keeps users first on any new SEO agenda. The thought will reflect significantly on the 2017 marquee, user experience coupled with SEO, especially relating to mobile devices will be seen.
- Invasive Interstitial Ads
Google announced its displacement with interstitial ads that visually obscures content. Users are unable to access content triggered by poor user experience which is quite the problem on handheld devices as screens are considerably smaller. To completely crack down on these SEO practices, which are now deemed wrong, can be fatal for a website as Google will never let its content rank highly in the search results.
The Intrusive Interstitial Ad update was released on the 10th of January, penalizing mobile websites that covered accessible content with intrusive Ads.
- Cross-Channel Marketing
Establish a presence that is genuine on more than one platform. Send targeted ads based on their search email or social media. Good SEO practices serve your business needs in the long run. If you try to spam the system, you might get away with it for just a little while, but never hope to recover from the losses if Google penalizes the website.
- Augment Crawl Budget
Search engines crawl through the number of a site’s pages. This number is the Crawl Budget. Use the “Google Search Console” to get an idea of what your crawl budget might be.
However, Google does not give you a page by page breakdown. Look into the server logs by using specific web tools like WebLogExpert. Follow these steps:
- Bring more backlinks to the site’s page that you want crawlers to most identity.
- Get rid of duplicate pages.
- Completely prevent indexation of pages with no SEO value.
- Fix broken links ASAP.
- Keep the sitemap up to date.
All about Links
- Audit Internal Links
Crawlability vastly expands on a shallow and logical site structure. These qualities are also a prerequisite of good UX. Spread ranking power (PageRank) along with pages more efficiently by internally linking pages. Check the following when auditing internal linking:
- Redirected Links:
Genuine websites looking to make loyal customers should refrain from redirecting the visitors from page to page before they eventually land on the necessary result. Annoying number of redirects negatively affect crawl budget and load time. Regularly update discovered links to redirected pages. Do not exceed to more than three chains of redirects.
- Click Depth:
Number of pages does not determine the rank of a website, rather how accurately the results represented search queries. The only way to lock a visitor onto your site is to keep relevant (informational) pages no more than two clicks away from the homepage. To put is simply, keep your website shallow and digestible.
- Broken Links:
Visitors are smart, and 2017 will make them smarter. Your website is never the only one to cater to the market. So, broken links is a complete no! These cause trust issues and confuse visitors, thereby, eating up the page ranking power. Look deeply into your “tags”, Http headers and sitemaps apart from HTML elements. Reason behind it is that SEO crawlers are developer driven, despite showing broken links, it is tricky to find all of them.
Voice Search & Machine Learning
- Voice Search Magnifies
Virtual assistants are slowly creeping into our work eco-system. It is the comfort in usage that is drawing more people to use voice search queries since 2008. Attributing this exponential growth to continued efforts in developments of virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana; users realize there’s more comfort in speaking than typing.
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai did announce that 20% of all the queries on the company’s Android devices and mobile app platforms are voice searches. If the voice search sustains its growth, at least 50% of all searches will either use speech or images by 2020.
- Leveraging Voice Search
Target Keywords are an incumbent influence in SEO strategy. However, with the surging popularity of voice searches, rethinking keyword strategy is soon becoming the need of the hour for many SEO mavens. Imbibing a strong keyword strategy that supports voice recognition programs and searches are drawing much attention as it will soon seek to be a technique most online searches you will find adopting.
Using a tool like “FAQ Fox” can significantly help you identify queries being sent by a particular target audience. The device requires you to key in the keywords that relate to a topic. Then specify a category and define the sites on which you would like the check to see the results. You will find a concise list of results. Start to identify the ones that are doable via a voice search. Remember, voice searches are better recognized and matched when they are brief. So, focus extensively on direct question-based queries that have set a conversational tone.
- Machine Learning with Google RankBrain
Doors to algorithmic machine learning opened byte end of the last year owing to Google’s RankBrain. Automatic upgrading through Google Hummingbird functions will be a way to gradually learn more about how users will be phrasing their queries conversational) directly updating the algorithm. Keep a look out for machine learning updates, especially in the data interpretation and marketing automation areas.
SEO for Bing
- The “Bing” Factor
Sure, Google is the ruler of the roost whenever we hear “SEO” or “SEM”. Online marketers often do not even think of the other search engines that many online searchers could possibly be turning to, though Bing has shown increasing capability in carving its niche, especially in mobile SEO. Powering around 20% searches in the UK and 10% in the US, in the later part of 2016, leveraging Bing through claiming ownership in the “Bing Places for Business” and Submitting your site through “Bing’s Webmaster Tools” will prove to be a great way of building quality links. Always consider all avenues possible when promoting your brand.
Social Media Promotion
- The Influence of Social Media in Search Ranking
Google’s head of the Webspam team, Matt Cutts said in an interview that the search engine sees social media posts as any other webpage, but they are not counted as a ranking factor. When Matt says “pages”, he’s referring to the solo pieces of content on these sites (On Twitter, this would be a tweet). These show up as “cards” on Google search result. It is important to realize that with the exponentially growing numbers of web pages, algorithms do not consider all content as equally valuable. Hence, the crawling bots are extremely selective.
When it comes to social media, the volume is larger than conventional web pages. Hence, Google does not try to index all of the social posts that are generated. So, SEO practices in social media marketing should focus on building brand value, customer relationships and direct traffic to the business website.
- SEO Secret Weapon: Personal Branding
Personal branding is relatable and reliable. As an SEO, you will find it easier to secure guest posting, gaining user trust and driving higher traffic to your website. For example, Facebook has continually refined their algorithms to favor individual post over a branded post. This directly means more competition and strategy for your website in order.
- From Desktop-First to Mobile-First Approach
When Google announced the AMP, mentality did not change much. However, Goggle’s real intention was to announce that mobile search is all search. Both organic and paid traffic are seeing significant numbers coming from mobile devices. Hence, the announcement of mobile-first indexing took place.
The trend is here to stay and grow. Industry niches like Computer & Electronics, Internet & Telecom, Science, and Travel are still, however, seeing larger traffic driven from desktops. With Googles announcement, about 37% of news sites took to an AMP according to a study conducted by the GDELT Project. Smartphone usage is rising especially in the Asian and European market.
However, this does not mean the SEOs should ignore desktop searches. Particularly, for those who own an e-commerce business website, the relevant traffic is mainly desktop driven. Designers and developers now need to balance regarding site usability and customize the same for both desktop and mobile. SEO experts, on the other hand, need to make mobile-indexing a priority as they did the desktop for about 18 years now.
Creativity in Content
- A Considerable Rise in “Dense Content”
Well, ever since the Internet boomed and People saw that websites were the new big way of gaining wealth, everyone took to doing business online. The trend gave rise to legitimate business owners with bright new ideas and attached blogs, whereas some just were spin-offs, heavily relying on poorly curated, marketed and “keyword-stuffed” content. Today, people see through the smokescreen and are tired of reading the same fluff material time and again across different platforms. Early on, marketing efforts were driven towards making small bite-sized content and then it rose to the “epic” content. The new trend will now meander towards bringing as much information as possible in the least places to appeal to readers and keep them engaged.
- Richer Answers and Snippets
Googles answer our queries with videos, websites, movies, reviews or search particular result. The Schema Markup (Structured Data Markup) helps website owners achieve heightened listings in SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). The tool helps search engine to process your content and list the snippets. These are in fact readily available to the user, making your content rank on the resulting query.
Additional Tips for SEO in 2017
- Do not carry out exploitation of the Anchor Text in the content. Eliminate all those trying to spam, duplicate or cheat the system for their personal gains and not for positive business growth.
- Stop stuffing keywords into content. Google, either way, categorizes it as a negative result. What can you do to achieve ranking through keyword? Use keywords in your domain or as the first word of the Domain. Adding keywords (search query) to content titles (even headers) is an indisputable ranking factor that will boost the website’s ranking on search engines.
- Do not go spamming other sites with link-dense comments on the Web. Organic visitors come to your business website for its uniqueness and services. Sure, business ideas are getting replicated, but creativity is never limited, nor are the capabilities of traffic driven content. Spamming other blogs with comments links to your website is highly irritable.
- Buying links on the web for your business site is just like buying multiple followers for your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter profiles. Definitely could mean an ego boost, but will never prove to be a quality booster.
- Crawlers today are smartly coded to recognize quality and reject quantity to the lower ranking of links. There is a strict policy forming over spamming links from internal or external sources. Instead, focus on backlinking and crediting other websites for their research or marketing contributions.
The year 2017 will mark some radical improvements in the world of SEO. While bad practices will eventually find rejection by systems, only those with sincere efforts in content creation and brand building will find ranking in the SERPs. Marketers need to keep a close eye on these developments and stay prepared for the bigger challenges.