Folks, it’s already December. Although it feels like we were just talking about planning your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy for 2016, it’s now almost 2017. That means it’s time for us to once again chat about our SEO strategies for the coming new year.
Although we’re just posting this blog now, in reality, we’ve been thinking about this topic for awhile now. SEO is not one of those things you can plan and execute all at once. You can’t set it and forget it. It’s ongoing, it’s a process, and it’s constantly changing. We like to think of SEO as something that you continually invest in, just like you would your marketing strategy or business development efforts.
Yes, sometime it feels like a slow and painful process. It’s super gradual. That’s the nature of the beast, though (and the beast is Google, if you didn’t know). SEO can be likened to building trust in a relationship. As you get to know a person, you learn whether or not they’re trustworthy. You see how they act in various situations and learn what other people think of them and whether or not they keep commitments. Google has the same sort of relationship with your website. It takes time for Google to “trust” your website. Google knows that it takes awhile to build a collection of high-quality links, so it may hurt your website’s ranking to all of a sudden have a ton of links pointing to your site. Google also cares about how long your website has existed – just as it’s not wise to trust a person you just met without learning a little bit more about them. The whole process of “trust building” with Google is gradual and requires patience.
There’s also the fact of the matter that the web is constantly changing (as is Google!), constantly evolving, and is a constantly competitive landscape. The way people search for information as well as what they’re actually searching for changes daily. In order to plan and execute your SEO strategy, you need to be aware that there’s no one way to stay relevant on Google – it’s going to be an ever evolving process that will never be completely finished.
While you’re at it, have you recently audited your SEO strategy? Not sure if you even HAVE an SEO problem? Download our simple 2 step DIY SEO audit and find out.
As we’ve kept up with SEO trends and changes this year, we’ve noticed some patterns that will carry into 2017. These broad predictions are based on our own work with clients, classes we’ve attended, experts we’ve talked to, and the way that current 2016 trends have played out. We hope you pull up a chair, read what we have to say, and let us know what you think. Without further ado, here’s how we think SEO will play out in the upcoming year:
Our 7 SEO Predictions for 2017
1. Dense Content Delivers “Per-Word-Value”
If you were left scratching your head after that one, let us explain. While it’s true that longer articles tend to perform better on search engines that shorter ones, we predict that we’ll see fewer and fewer of those all-inclusive, detailed guides that cover every last detail of a certain topic. That’s because you have to know your audience. While such guides are packed chock full of information, giving them a high word count and plenty of room for keywords, they don’t cater well to the average person’s attention span. As more people turn to mobile devices to search for answers to their burning questions, they want articles that are detailed and relevant and that answer their specific question rather than a novel-length write-up that goes into to MUCH detail. Rather, they want dense content – content that is a happy medium between brief and excessively wordy and that delivers high per-word value.
Your best bet in terms of creating SEO-friendly content in 2017 is to create quality content on a regular schedule – consistent, quality content. Develop this content by answering a specific question that someone might search for on Google so that your content will be relevant and deliver value to the reader. To ensure that your content is dense, answer the reader’s question in enough words that you don’t leave out key points and make sure that each word carries its weight – don’t go off on a tangent just to hit a certain word count. It’s easiest to do that when you have a blog marketing plan…more on that later.
2. Mobile UX Takes Center Stage
It’s no secret that mobile searches are outnumbering those on a desktop by now. We’ve certainly mentioned this before. As we move into 2017, however, we need to double underline this point. We predict that the main focus in 2017 will be user experience (UX) on mobile devices.
In this case, user experience refers to the way a person who visits a website on their mobile device feels about the interaction – how quickly the pages loaded for them, their ease (or difficulty) in finding where the navigation was located, whether or not the website was responsive, and if the text was readable. As the number of mobile searches continue to grow in 2017, this will become increasingly important.
One specific thing to note is the Accelerated Mobile Pages project, a project headed by Google and Twitter to trim HTML code for faster loading mobile webpages – lightning fast, in fact. If a webpage doesn’t load quickly on mobile, it may cause poor UX and abandonment of the page entirely. As this project continues to gain traction, mobile UX will only become more important than it is right now today. In the meantime, check out www.amproject.org to learn more.
3. Keyword-Centric, Never Stuffed
Gone are the days of stuffing your keywords over and over (and over?) again into your content so that Google can find your article/webpage/blog. In 2017, it’s going to be smart to use the words that accurately describe what your content is about. Ask yourself what the user wants when they conduct a search for your content.
In the case of this article, we think our users will be searching the internet for suggestions on what to employ in their 2017 SEO strategies. They’re looking to learn more, not necessarily to buy SEO services from us. Therefore, our post is optimized to answer the questions our users have. Decode your audience’s intent first, then go about answering their question better than anybody else can – deliver value.
4. May Your Snippets Be Rich
Google’s goal is to be the best Answer Machine in the history of answer machines. Have you ever searched for something – say, how to cut a pineapple, and got a little box at the top with specific steps to take to cut a pineapple? This is Google’s Answer box – also known as “ranking position 0.”
It’s awesome to get one of Google’s coveted answer boxes. It’s generally at the top of all the organic search results, and there are three kinds – paragraphs, lists, tables. To get your content into one of these, you need to direct your content to be relevant and properly formatted for the box that makes the most sense. What do we mean by that?
First, you should think about what people would be searching to get a particular box and then see if the competition already has a strong answer listed. If not, you could be in the running. There’s no need to be the top result on Google (although it probably helps)…Google will pick and choose out of the first page results. Format the content you want in the box in the appropriate format – a paragraph, list, or table depending on what makes the most sense. Make sure that the facts in your content match up with what Google’s must trusted sites are saying (as this makes you look more factual and more desirable for an answer box. Finally, as the boxes are great for driving traffic, make sure that your paragraph, list, or table has more information than Google could actually put in a box, enticing viewers to click on the box to learn more (on your site – hooray for SEO)!
5. Siri (and Voice Search) Take the Wheel
This 2017 SEO trend has got us feeling all futuristic – voice searches (on Siri, Cortana, and the like) are becoming increasingly popular. Therefore, it’s now important to optimize your content for the things people are SAYING as opposed to typing into a search engine’s search bar. However, it’s also important to know which search engine a voice search will pull up – it differs by device.
As this is a newer trend, we recommend starting small by educating yourself on the workings of voice search and how such searches are triggered. Next, understand that the ways that people are using voice search are a little different than how they’re searching the web themselves. Often times, they’re looking for directions or for humorous responses – weave these into your content if you can. There’s also the obvious – ask yourself how you would voice search something – what words and phrases do you use? Incorporate these to your content, optimize your location data through online directories (Yelp, Google My Business, etc), and be sure your site is mobile-friendly, and you’ll be on your way to ranking for voice search. Again, since this is a relatively new trend that people are capitalizing on, continually test and refine your strategy!
6. From the Mouths of Your Brand Influencers
This 2017 SEO trend is best exemplified with Facebook – Facebook has recently changed its algorithm (WHAT A SHOCK…just kidding…this happens all the time, keeping us on our toes). Time prioritizing content/posts from family and friends (individual users) more so than brands. To get around this, businesses are using personal branding to deliver their content via individual brand influencers. Therefore, one strategy to get around this is to have your employees share and post content around your brand as THEMSELVES, turning them into brand ambassadors for your company. This is especially useful when you have a top executive or leader that can serve as the well-connected spokesperson for the brand. In our case, this is likely Julie Irvin, our President & Founder. When Julie puts out content about Keystone Resources, we see that her friends and family see the posts and react well to them. Focus on the people in your organization as the organic promoters of your brand by having them author brand content, share with their unique networks, and giving your brand an authenticity that will help SEO.
7. Know Yourself and Pick Your (Keyword) Battles
We build websites for a range of clients, big and small, every day at Keystone Resources. Having worked with some smaller businesses, we feel especially aware of their challenges and strengths when it comes to SEO. One thing we’d like to point out as a trend for 2017 is for small businesses to find the unique strengths that can help them compete in SEO with the bigger players out there.
Small businesses need to capitalize on these strengths by getting laser focused on their niche appeal, making decisions quickly and trying a number of approaches, and the authenticity of being a smaller group of individuals rather than a conglomerate company. Smaller companies should target keywords that they know are uniquely appropriate to their value proposition and what they stand for. Focus efforts on a smaller slice of what the larger companies are going after and target that.
Let Keystone Resources Know If You Need SEO Help!
We’re always happy to help businesses out with their SEO strategy. Email us if you have specific questions related to the trends we talked about or if you just want to start investing more in your SEO efforts for 2017. We’d love to chat!
In the meantime, let us know…
Do you agree with our predictions?
What would you add to our list?
Which SEO strategy are you most excited to try in 2017?