SEO has always been a moving target. Search engines are constantly updating the methodology by which they determine rank as they respond to behavioral and technical shifts online.
For example, the rise of mobile devices completely changed the way Google weighted factors like site load speed and mobile responsive design. Sites with light and easy mobile deliverability now edge out heavier over-designed competition.
To keep you and your site on track, here are some of the most common SEO mistakes we’re seeing in 2017:
Losing Sight of SEO’s Golden Strategy
One of the little ironies of SEO is that everyone’s long term SEO strategy should be exactly the same: deliver the most value and best possible content for your niche or space.
For example, if you’re a ski supplies retailer in Colorado you, simply put, should strive to be the best resource on ski supplies in Colorado. Each of Google’s technical adjustments or improvements are all designed to ensure that when someone types in “best ski shop in Colorado,” the top result really is the best ski shop in Colorado.
Search engines are getting smarter every day and your long term SEO strategy is to strive to actually be the best at whatever you’re doing and then make sure your website content shows that.
Ignoring the Technical Fundamentals
Following SEO’s golden strategy is not an excuse to ignore technical best practices — they are still extremely important. The average technical quality of websites is improving, thus failures in SEO technical basics are even more detrimental in 2017.
- Crawlability: Always make sure your site is not blocked from search engine robots and all relevant pages are being indexed. It’s not uncommon to find ‘noindex’ tags leftover from development.
- Site Structure: Ensure that each of your core products or services has its own individual optimized page. Bundling them together on a single page is still a very common mistake.
- Keyword Alignment: Keyword alignment is not a ‘set it and forget it’ task. Be sure to consistently check your keyword volumes and stay aligned with the phrases your potential customers are typing into Google.
- Backlink Portfolio: More now than ever, Google needs good reason to trust your site. Having a growing link portfolio on the most reputable sites possible remains the key to improving Google’s trust in your site and therefore your ranking.
- Update your UX: Do not allow your site to fall too many generations behind contemporary trends in UX. Mark you calendar, and every 2.5 years your site should get at least some sort of UX facelift. Better UX equals more time on site equals stronger SEO.
- HTTPS is essential: Again, Google is looking for reasons to not trust your site. An SSL certificate is now standard practice to prove your site is secure and reputable, especially for eCommerce.
Not Paying Enough Attention to Mobile
We are increasingly moving towards a mobile-first search engine universe. This represents a massive shift in thinking away from desktop-first design towards mobile (minus a few industries that are still dominated by desktop). Thus, all future SEO strategy plans must be mobile-centric. This isn’t a new trend for 2017 necessarily but it’s perhaps the last year you can get away with not having a mobile strategy.
- Is your site mobile friendly? Google now provides an ultra-easy way of testing the mobile friendliness of your site. If your site isn’t mobile friendly, fixing it now is your top SEO priority.
- Mobile first development: There are exceptions but many industries now see the majority of their traffic coming from mobile. Any/all new web development should be focused on delivering the best possible mobile experience and adhering to all mobile SEO best practices.
- Mobile first indexing: Announced late last year, Google said that it would begin experimenting with mobile-first indexing. This is Google’s way of yelling last call for those who have not invested in mobile-friendly website design. Heed the warning!
- Longer queries due to voice search: This is a developing trend, one to pay attention to going into 2018. The growth of voice digital assistants like iPhone’s Siri is starting to have an effect on keyword volumes. These voice searches tend to be longer. For example, a typical voice query might be, “Italian restaurants near me.” Stay ahead of the curve, we expect this trend to have a big effect on SEO keyword strategy in the coming years.
Staying ahead in the SEO game is key. It’s always easier to do things right with your SEO first rather than making mistakes and having to correct them later. Avoiding the mistakes above will ensure that you not only drive traffic to your site, but ultimately turn those visitors into customers.
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