As the new year draws to a close, you’re probably working on finalizing your marketing strategies, plans and budget for 2017. It’s likely that SEO is one of the areas you’re considering. But how much time or work should you devote to it? To help you decide how your efforts should be spent to get the most use out of your marketing funds, here are some predictions for SEO in 2017.
1. Optimizing for Mobile Will Be Crucial
You and everyone you know probably has a mobile device of some kind. These days most people use mobile devices to access the internet, making mobile optimization extremely important going forward for rankings and conversion rates. To better understand the scope of how much mobile searches have grown, let’s talk facts: Google released a statement in late 2015 stating that there are in fact more queries from mobile devices, or smartphones, than from desktops in over 10 countries.
Another fact is that there’s an increasing demographic of users that use their smartphone as their sole device. This isn’t hard to believe, especially if you know anyone in the “millennial” age group. People are quite literally stuck to their smartphones. So if your users navigate to a page that’s not easy to engage with on their phone, most of them will leave the page and potentially end up with a bad impression of your brand and go with your competitor.
Implementing Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can help improve the mobile experience of your blog and articles, in addition to improving the speed. If you use WordPress, consider using a plugin to achieve the desired result like: AMP Supremacy. Making sure your website is responsive and works well for all screen sizes makes a big difference in usability and conversion.
2. Local Search Can Be an Area to Stand Out
When people are searching for restaurants, stores and services, they’re often looking to find results near them. For small businesses who serve specific areas, it’s crucial to optimize local landing pages and content for that area. This will increase the likelihood of being found by the right people.
While you may have trouble gaining high search rankings nationally, optimizing your content for specific locations can be the focused approach you need to attract more customers in your exact area.
Make sure you are using location microdata markup, and that you have verified and optimized your Google My Business location. Having a comprehensive local SEO strategy is the best way to make sure you get the right kind of traffic on your site.
3. The Use of Voice Search Will Continue to Increase
On mobile devices, a lot of people choose to use voice search, speaking their queries rather than typing them into their phones. This trend will likely grow as voice recognition technology improves and search engines get even smarter at answering people’s questions. Just look at the Google Quick Answer box and how that has evolved so rapidly.
This will also impact the way you develop your content. You now need to take into consideration what type of answers you content is providing and whether those answers are conducive to people clicking on your website or not.
4. Semantic Search Will Place Topics Above Keywords
Keywords are still very important, but not as much as they once were. Obviously, the words you choose to include in your posts are important because that is how Google understands what much of the post is about, but exact keywords and keyword frequency need to be balanced with the rise of semantic search.
Aim to focus on topics and themes using synonyms and lots of related words instead of just optimizing for one specific keyword. Keep in mind what the user’s experience will be like. If your website is useful, has high-quality content and is user friendly, it will have a positive impact on your SEO.
(Semantic Search started with the Google Hummingbird update in 2013)
5. High-Quality, Educational Content Will Remain a Priority
This one seems obvious, but quality content will continue to be of utmost importance in 2017. With more and more businesses creating written content to promote themselves, your content simply must stand out. Don’t skimp on quality in 2017. Keep writing long, well-researched content that gives your readers something of value that’ll keep them returning to your site.
Also, remember that many people don’t learn by reading, so if your product or service is educational in nature (most are) then you will likely want to include other content types such as images, videos, infographics, motion graphics, etc.
6. Featured Snippets Will Be a Coveted & Aggressively Sought After
You’ve probably seen the Featured Snippets from Google that appear as the top results in a SERP’s. This is a prime position for just about any company because it ups your chances of getting more clicks to your content and signals to searchers that you’re an authoritative source (as backed up by Google). Getting this spot and other rich snippets is likely to be one of the key focuses for SEO professionals in 2017. This is also super important for mobile. Check out this click-to-call rich snippet:
7. Quality Links Will Still Help You
We’re not talking about low-quality, spammy link practices, PBN’s, or link farms. No more grey hat or black hat SEO tactics. Using anything but genuine links will end up hurting your website sooner rather than later. Real links from authoritative sites will still be vitally important to your organic rankings. You can achieve these through outreach, among other methods. A good list by Backlinko.
8. Investing in SEO Will Increase
SEO changes frequently, but some things never change. Producing the type of content people want to read is still hard to scale for many large companies around the world, let alone the SMB. If your company is one of many that will be investing in this, make smart, well-researched decisions about the company you choose to partner with. Be detailed, ask for deliverables, compare several firm’s apples to apples, and make a choice.
Your company’s strategy must be constantly evolving. Choose to work with a company that will help you improve organic reach and outperform your competitors. Make it a priority to focus on these SEO predictions in 2017 if you want to improve your digital marketing ROI.