Every year, SEO gets a bit more complicated as Google updates its algorithms (without revealing too much in the process). The best SEO practices in 2017 continue to focus on optimizing your website for faster, more relevant and interactive search results. In fact, the trends from 2016 have continued, with a heightened focus on mobile search optimization and providing a quality user experience for your website.
Here are some essential SEO tips to continue doing in 2017 to help gain more business through organic search rankings.
1. On Page SEO Essentials
Optimizing your site structure, load speed and title tags are (and should always be) important. The site structure helps showcase your products or services and also helps to provide a seamless navigational framework for visitors.
The load speed is more important than ever as ‘on-the-go’ mobile browsing continues to gain momentum. Did you know that 40% of visitors will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? As for title tags, they need to be relevant and optimized for your target keywords — this has been a mainstay ranking factor for well over a decade.
These factors will continue to be important throughout 2017 and the foreseeable future.
2. Quality Content… is still King
Everyone has read or heard that “content is king” — but what exactly does this mean?
Your website needs to have quality, engaging content for your audience. The importance of this cannot be overstated. It will impact the time visitors spend on-site, conversions, and ultimately search rankings, as engaging content is also more likely to be shared and linked to.
Devise content which is centered on your keywords, based on keyword research, and be sure to add internal links within it, and pointing to it from other pages. This type of content will help your target customers with their problems and questions and will get them into your funnel.
3. Provide a Better User Experience
SEO combines with UX (user experience) in many ways. Site speed, site architecture, quality content, colors / fonts, user metrics and more all factor into the overall usability of your site.
Search engines can only assess certain aspects of user behavior – for now. On inspection of the user metrics, if they see high levels of visits bouncing back to the search results after hitting your site, they just know they bounced, they don’t exactly know why.
That bounce could be the result of one or five things wrong with your site. It doesn’t matter to the search engine; they just see the bounce and will likely factor that into how well you should rank. The key, then, is to determine what’s causing this behavior and then figure out ways to provide a better result for the visitor overall.
4. Get Mobile Optimized or Be Left Behind!
2016 was the year Google decided to remove the label “mobile friendly” from its search results. This was because, according to Google’s search team, “85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet the appropriate criteria and show the mobile-friendly label.”
Since the vast majority of mobile results are mobile friendly, there is no need to label them as such. All websites are now (or should be) “mobile-friendly.”
Google’s desktop searches now showcase the same results that you would see on your mobile device (which prioritize mobile results). So if you haven’t made the change to have a mobile-optimized website yet, don’t be surprised if you see that your organic traffic decreases.
5. Shift from HTTP to HTTPS
With Google encouraging HTTPS encryption for over two years now, most webmasters are beginning to seriously consider shifting towards secure encryption.
The shift isn’t just necessary because Google is promoting it, but because it protects the information provided by visitors. HTTPS should be a default practice adopted — especially if you have an ecommerce website, where visitors can purchase products or services through your website.
Not only is encryption a must because it ensures visitors that the website is taking measures to ensure that visitors’ data is kept secure, but ensuring HTTPS for the entire site means visitors are safe in the knowledge that their data is secure.
The shift from HTTP to HTTPS does entail a bit of work, but it is not a massive task. We recommend making this shift if you have not already.
6. Google’s Rich Answers
SEO isn’t just about getting into the top position anymore. Google has a special place on top of SERPs for local results, as well as content that’s optimized for rich answers.
Rich answers work by extracting metadata from your content and using the information in a visual “Answer Box.” This can be used in many forms such as event schedules, maps, charts, and recipes.
The concept behind rich answers is to provide users with quick, definitive answers within the search results. Target queries that begin with ‘when’ ‘how’ ‘what’ ‘where’ and ‘who’ when doing keyword research to boost your content’s relevance. Also, pay attention to Google search recommendations and Google Search Trends to know what users are asking.
7. The Year of Voice Search
Midway through 2016, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced that 20% of all queries on the company’s mobile app and Android devices are voice searches.
With the continued development of virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, more users are getting comfortable with speaking rather than typing.
To adapt to the growing popularity of voice searches, webmasters need to rethink their keyword strategy and focus more on question-based queries with a conversational tone. In practice, this means creating question-and-answer based content, such as a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section.
Staying ahead of everything that happens in the search industry is vital for any SEO campaign. Hopefully, the essential tips listed above can help you devise and implement a successful SEO strategy for your business.
SEO is a combination of many factors that add up to one big result – your search engine presence. No matter what element you start with, gradually chip away with the correct SEO optimization and you’ll see your results will improve.
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