“SEO is all about user experience and presentation. We often forget who is our eventual visitor, it’s not Google, it’s your visitor, it’s your user, make him happy, [and] Google will make you happy.”
Right about now, nearly every SEO on the planet is devising his or her blueprints for gaining organic traction on the SERPs in 2017.
While there are more than 200 different factors that contribute to a brand’s overall placement for particular queries, there are certain trends emerging and steadfast rules for ranking that are important to consider as we move into the New Year.
If you are on the hunt for the latest trends and SEO rules of engagement for 2017, look no further. Here are the top five practices you should be concerning yourself with throughout 2017.
Rule 1. A Mobile-First Focus
No major revelations here. Over the past several years, mobile’s importance has continued to grow and its impact on SEO has become increasingly dramatic.
Google has, in no uncertain terms, laid out its agenda as it relates to mobile; and it is soon to top the list of search priorities.
Over the course of 2016, SEOs, marketers and business owners saw Google ramp up the uses of Accelerated Mobile Pages by introducing it organically into the SERPs, advertisements and even eCommerce offerings.
This was only the tip of the iceberg, however — the biggest mobile-related announcement came in November when Google revealed its mobile-first indexing exercise.
While these are only a couple examples of how Google is turning its attention toward mobile, the overall consensus is that your business should be doing the same.
It is now a necessity to have a mobile version of your website. Moreover, it is becoming vital that your company adopt AMP for content offerings, increase mobile page speeds, and hone in on a truly unique and beneficial user experience.
Rule 2. Quality Over Quantity Prevails
This is one of those things that remains a staple in 2017 SEO practices; and will likely always be around in one form or another.
In the past few years, content marketers have generated more articles, blogs and videos than people can consume; and much of it is the same rehashed drivel.
Don’t worry so much about meeting a “content quota,” instead, your main goal is to produce truly useful materials as it relates to your niche; that’s what users care about, and that’s what Google cares about. Quality content is the entire focus of the Panda algorithm update.
Forget about article spinning and other ways to crank out content for the sake of content. Place your focus on creating highly-informative, evergreen content; something that users can leverage for years to come.
This leads us into our next content-related rule:
Rule 3. Deep Diving Content is a Must – Kind Of
In-depth content that intimately covers a given topic is not something new to 2017, but there are some changes on the horizon.
Over the past couple of years, various studies have been produced which clearly show the benefits of long-form content. One particular study even showed that the top slots in the Google SERPs went to content that contained more than 2,000 words.
Of course, the goal is not to create ultra-long content stuffed with fluff; it is to generate serious value for readers. Something that can genuinely help them understand a topic and improve.
The mobile-driven future, however, likely has other plans for content. While it is still ideal to create comprehensive materials for desktop, small screen devices will begin to require information-dense articles that are relatively short.
This is mainly because mobile devices are not optimized for long-form content but are emerging as the most favorable platform for the masses. As this trend continues to mature, so will the nature of the content that is served to mobile users.
Rule 4. Semantics are Significant
Google has been focusing more and more on user intent in recent years. And the proliferation of voice search technology has only served to amplify that pursuit.
Google is on a path of constant improvement as it relates to user experience. This means the company is continually trying to provide the most relevant and helpful links for user queries; the best way to do that is to understand the user’s intention for the search.
In 2017, SEOs will need to continue to adjust their keyword strategies to further identify key-phrases that relate to why users would seek out their website, product, or service. Keywords are often too broad to understand a user’s motive. By really focusing on detailed phrases, you are far more likely to reap SEO benefits in 2017.
Rule 5. Other Search Engines Matter
A lot of SEOs and business owners get so caught up in feverishly trying to rank on Google that they completely neglect other platforms; ignoring other search engines is a mistake.
In late 2015, Bing attained a 21 percent market share and is currently growing faster than Google. Considering that there are roughly 3.4 billion Internet users, this translates to approximately 714 million users that are missed by not leveraging Bing.
More importantly, these figures could see massive growth in 2017 as personal assistants Siri and Cortana utilize Bing as their default engines; Cortana already has more than 100 million monthly active users.
In 2017, put significant effort toward understanding Bing’s best practices, ensuring your pages are indexed with the engine, and optimizing your pages for better results. It wouldn’t hurt to secure some advertising space on the platform either.
Creating a powerful SEO strategy in 2017 comes down to focusing on what makes for a better user experience; that’s what Google is after. The more you place a spotlight on user intent, user-centric content, and great mobile offerings, the more Google will acknowledge your efforts.