SEO Trends for 2017: What to Look Out For
As we say goodbye to 2016, there is a lot of talk about what is in store for the next twelve months in the world of SEO. I have a compiled a short list of what I believe will be the most popular SEO trends for 2017.
Mobile is Mandatory:
As I’m sure you already know, mobile optimisation has become increasingly important in recent years. This is ever since 2015 when Google announced that mobile searches surpassed desktop. As you can imagine this is only going to increase in the years to come, so they are putting mobile towards the top of the priorities pile. Google recently stated they will be experimenting with mobile first index. Meaning, the search engine will now crawl the mobile or mobile-responsive version of your site first, prioritising mobile pages over desktop. It will then use that content in the search engine results pages (SERP).
If you are unsure if your site is up to date;
- You can carry a basic mobile-friendly test.
- You can also read Google’s Guide on mobile optimisation for a more detailed overview of what is needed.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP):
With mobile optimisation at the forefront, it is important to highlight Google’s primary focus which is based on increased mobile responsiveness. This is driven by the desire to reduce bounce rates and ultimately improve mobile user experience. AMP integration seems to be the favoured solution for this and as its open-source, it is available to everyone. So take note.
Its primary function is to create instantaneous loading of all rich media on mobile pages, such as; image, video and graphics. This is down to the fact that an average website uses eight times more data when loading than AMP. As Google have dedicated Search Console AMP Test, you can expect a surge in the trend for 2017.
Keywords are still an important component of a brand’s SEO strategy, however they are losing some weight in terms of the results they produce. This is down to two key factors; user behaviour and evolving search engines. Consumers are now more specific in their search terms, they know exactly what they are looking for. Search terminology has evolved into full queries and phrases being entered into the search engine. To facilitate this, search engines are becoming more intelligent, allowing them to identify the user intent.
How do brands adjust their SEO strategy?
Examine what users are searching for that brings them to your site. Obviously, the important keywords will be apart of this, but take note of the different variations of search terms used. What are users really searching for? What problems do they want solving?
Once you’ve compiled a sufficient amount of data and analysed it, you can make the necessary changes to your content. The most important factor when creating or editing your content is to make sure it resonates with your customer. Do you have the solution to their problem?
This is a continuous process. Compile regular reports from your analytics and make changes as you see deem necessary. Keeping up to date and responding to your customer needs in this way is what will differentiate you from your competitors and will ensure that you one step ahead in the game.
Structured Data and Schema are Important:
Structured data is one of those components of site design that every developer knows about but not all use. However, its importance is becoming more prevalent of late. Search Engine Land describes the use of structured data markup as allowing certain types of web content to be highly accessible and understandable to search engines and other third-party programs. In layman’s terms; if your site is using structured data, it will be easier for the search engine to identify and understand the content. This will result in better rankings in the search engine results pages.
Schema.org was developed in 2011 by Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Yandex, to promote the standardisation of structured data markup for web pages. A perfect example of how structured data is being used and its benefits to both the search engine and the user are Rich Snippets. These are extra pieces of information that appear under a search result. For example; a recipe or cooking instructions.
Personal branding may not seem like an obvious choice when it comes to your SEO strategy. With more and more consumers shifting towards brands that they can connect with, it is important for organisations to have a face. Personal branding for digital marketing is focuses on using different identities and personalities within the organisation and using them to communicate with the individual audience segments. Think of it as appointing an expert representative for each of your customer bases. Each has their own needs and requires different solutions.
First and foremost it is vital you adhere to best practices for on-page and off-page SEO if you want to position yourself higher in the search rankings. For example, building a keyword strategy, developing local SEO strategy and link building. Personal branding can be then leveraged to build trust and ultimately driving more traffic to your site. Here are some of the SEO benefits;
Consumers have a desire to create relationships with brands they can trust. As personal branding in centralised around the individual communicating with the consumer, it gives your brand a personality and human traits, enabling you to empathise with your customer and potentially provide solutions to their problems. This will result in an increase in your user-base, and followers and ultimately drive sales.
Publishing content from individual authors is far more appealing to consumers. By providing individual expertise communication, it allows brands to tap into separate audience segments and spark up conversations without disrupting their overall consumer base. Over time, as your authority and expertise amongst consumers increases, other external publishers may also see the appeal and request guest write-ups. This will result in increased relevant site links, a key ingredient in SEO link building.
Aside from analysing the benefits of personal branding from the user’s point of view, Google are now rumoured to start favouring those sites who are becoming creative with their own personal branding. It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate websites amongst competitors. Some brands are combating this through the use of personalised URLs. Google see this as another creative avenue to build brand awareness and they will award you for it. For example;
Similar to services such as TinyURL and Bitly, they allow the user to shorten their URL link, making it easier to add links into instant messages or character restricted posts such as Twitter. However, by branding and personalising the URL it allows you to be more creative and it will be even shorter. If you want to have a look at some great examples, check out Vanity URL Shorteners or if you’re curious vnty.us.
The next few months will be an exciting time for SEO, that’s for sure. There were a lot of big announcements last year, in terms of SEO trends, so we will most likely see a lot of those areas growing in popularity, such as user experience, long-form content and mobile optimisation. The main thing to remember as a digital marketer is to keep on top of your current SEO strategy. Once you have a good foundation to build on, you can then begin to add in some new factors into the mix.