The Internet is an ever-growing presence, and with that growth comes a battle for attention. It’s becoming harder and harder to stand out from the crowd and get your content noticed in an over-saturated market with billions of websites. However, thanks to SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) it is possible to get your site seen by the people who you would like to see it and spread the word naturally in a way that makes sense for your brand.
Last year saw a rise in video content which took over everything, especially on social platforms; app SEO improved immensely, and Schema use increased, but as SEO tactics change and shift, what are 2017’s big trends to look out for?
Great marketing and viral sensations aside, when all is said and done, the most important thing that your website can offer to bring people back is high-quality content. Quality over quantity is the slogan of the year, and creating useful, relevant content that people will genuinely learn something or benefit from is important. There is too much competition out there to be churning out rubbish, so step up your game for 2017.
User Experience Optimisation
Not only is content getting more useful, but websites will also become more readily accessible this year. Search engines will favour websites that keep their audiences hanging around for longer, meaning that websites that are easy to navigate; contain really good images and infographics and are well designed will top the ranks. 2017 is all about quality, so make sure that both your website and its content are of high quality to keep people coming back for more.
AI and Voice Search Optimisation
Voice search is well and truly here, and websites better start optimising for it before they get left behind. Short, easy to understand titles and hashtags will help out here, especially with the rise of artificial intelligence led home assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana. Thanks to the commercial success that both Amazon’s Echo range and Google Home experienced last year, we expect this trend to continue for quite some time.
Mobile isn’t going anywhere, and while 2016 was the year that most websites finally became optimised for mobile and tablet, 2017 will be the year that this type of optimisation is perfected. Mobile-first indexing is critical, and Google is continuing to focus on mobile, meaning metadata and user experience on this platform is essential. The recent introduction of Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) integration by webmasters will help web pages to become quicker and more responsive on mobile too.
RankBrain’s influence is rising, and with that comes improvements to the algorithm. Google RankBrain now factors in more user intent signals such as time on site and bounce rates, and CTR from SERPs will start becoming a bigger factor in re-ranking URLs.
Short Branded Links
Short branded links are the ‘in-thing’, and their versatility and impact are wide reaching. Companies like Pepsi (pep.si) and the New York Times (nyti.ms) are using these branded links to create brand awareness and share their content. Not only are they fun and exciting, but they also mean that everyone will know your name, no matter how far your content travels on the web. Plus, research shows that using these branded links increases CTR by 35%.
Rich Answers and Micro-Moments
Search engines are changing the way they process and display information, and thanks to the rise of those AI assistants that we’ve already mentioned, rich answers will be the next big thing. That means searching for answers in a natural speech pattern such as “how do I cook pasta?” instead of simply “ways to cook pasta”. Continuity is also a new trend, so if you search for “who is Barack Obama?”, You can follow that up with natural language such as “what age is he”. What Google call ‘Micro-Moments’ will also see an increase in recognition this year, which is just a fancy word for the things that people reflexively turn to a smart device for such as learning new information, carrying out an action, watching something, buying something or discovering something.
With the wealth of tools and information out there, SEO testing is as important as ever, and you have no excuse not to be doing it with your content. It’s not enough to put in place some basic SEO principles and hope for the best; you need to be testing different variables and adjusting your strategies accordingly. 2017 will see even better and more comprehensive testing become available, so use the tools you have!
Long form content
As well as quality, we will start to see websites producing more long-form content that will stand the test of time. Competition is fierce, and fake news websites are rife, so it’s important for websites to build trust with their readers and educational long-form content is an excellent way to do that. Rather than ‘viral’ content with click-bait headlines, and no substance, articles that will be relevant for longer will be very popular in the coming months.
As with the entirety of the Internet, SEO is constantly changing and evolving, and it now encompasses a whole host of different aspects that you might not instinctively class as SEO. Everything from great content, a beautiful user journey and providing people with the top-class experience that they have come to expect are all vital to getting the results you desire when it comes to traffic and bounce rate. 2017 is all about two things: pleasing people and providing a high-quality experience, which is exactly what websites should be concerned with. Gone are the days where websites could boast great content, yet not follow through, and we are all the better for it.
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