Over the years, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has slowly, but surely, transformed into more than just optimizing for the search engine result pages (SERPs). From the days of spamming and jamming, to the rise of mobile and voice search, SEO has evolved and continues to change every day. While Google’s algorithm updates are never-ending and often mysterious, there are some notable trends in SEO that you’ll want to take advantage of come 2017:
User Experience Will Continue to Grow in Importance – Both On-Site & Off-Site
Heading into 2017, there is no doubt that user experience (UX) is going to be atop of most companies’ marketing initiatives. With mobile usage representing 65% of digital media time—a number that is only going up—site speed, easy navigation, and responsive web pages are becoming more significant than ever.
Along with mobile optimization becoming a priority, navigation and above-the-fold content have their fair share of the digital pie. For example, easy navigation and a trail of breadcrumbs give returning customers an easy shopping experience, which likely leads to a higher conversion rate. Those new to the site, though, will likely want to learn before they buy. With educational content above-the-fold, and without the in-your-face CTAs, users will be more inclined to learn and then buy and less inclined to bounce from the site.
Quick Takeaways: Educate, and then sell. The search engines guided these users (and potential customers) to you, don’t lose them right away!
While UX is usually associated with on-site content, Google can often be overlooked or underutilized. In the SERPs, users are looking for easy searching and quick answers. Attracting searchers with compelling titles and meta descriptions might be enough now, but taking advantage of schema markup and rich snippets will make your listing stand out against competitors. Not only can schema render reviews in your listing or provide a quick answer from a piece of your content, it will provide search engines with a better understanding of your site, allowing it to rank even higher.
Quick Takeaways: Start implementing schema sooner than later. It will not only increase your click-through rates, but also your overall rankings!
Need for Customer-Centric Content
Ever since Google’s Panda Update, SEO and content have become inseparable. Quality content, paired with solid SEO strategy and keyword research, can drive rankings up and, thus, drive users to your site. We got that. Yet, are your strategies aligning with your audience?
Creating customer-centric content while taking advantage of perfect moments to reach your audience paves the way for great opportunities. Aligned content, written with the right keywords and in the context they are being searched for, connects companies with users on an even greater level. With varying degrees of search intent, optimizing for semantic search has become extremely important. Google is continuing to put more resources into understanding the intent of a searcher and how they are searching, especially with the rise of voice search. Going forward, content needs to be written in the right conversational contexts and aligned to the searchers’ who, what, where, and how questions.
Quick Takeaways: SEO and Content teams need to work closer than ever if they’re not already. Optimizing for your specific audience and the context they are searching for is key going forward.
SEO Collaborates Well With More Than Just Content
While SEO already performs well when paired with content, it is often still a silo to the other teams. Having an integrated marketing approach not only aligns a consistent message across your marketing channels, but it also allows you to tap into and utilize resources already at your fingertips.
Sharing Your Newly Optimized Content Through Your Social Channels
As stated above, integrating your marketing efforts across digital channels sends a unified message and brand experience to your customers. This integration leads to social sharing across platforms and, in turn, links to your site, giving you more brand exposure. If the content you’re sharing is customer-centric and being pushed at perfect moments, it will drive even more sharing and exposure. While it is still a mystery whether social shares have any true value or not, there is speculation that they may become a ranking factor in 2017.
Quick Takeaways: Utilize your social connections. Pushing out relevant content to users will not only generate another medium to expose your content, but it will exponentially drive links and build up your online presence in the SERPs.
Leverage Your Paid Media Efforts to Improve Your Organic Presence
With both SEO and PPC teams performing keyword research every day, why not take advantage of collaborating together? A unified keyword strategy gives you an integrated approach across both channels. This provides ample opportunity to take ideas from PPC specialists, for example, who are testing ad copy every day and utilize the insights to best optimize the click-through rate on your site’s organic search results. Not only will your agency (or business) show a unified approach, but you’ll be better utilizing your resources and even optimizing your team’s time.
Quick Takeaways: If you are utilizing both SEO and PPC, why not let them collaborate? Leaving them in silos will only take away the potentially great opportunities to having an integrated strategy going forward.
Heading into 2017, the SEO landscape may head in the direction we’ve envisioned, or it may follow its mysterious ways. We cannot look into what the future holds, but we can give you a road map of tips and tricks to start planning for the trip ahead.