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Top SEO Trends 2017: What they mean for your business

One of the best things you can invest in when it comes to marketing your business is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Having a website that does great with organic SEO not only will increase traffic to your site and bring you new potential customers, but it will make your money go further when you decide to do any paid digital search campaigns.

If you want to stay ahead of your competition in 2017 – whether you’re in higher education, real estate, construction, plumbing, or any other industry – you should have a basic knowledge of SEO; at least, enough to know when to hire an expert to make your SEO sing and keep traffic and customers coming to your website and through your virtual door.

Here are the SEO tips for 2017 you need to keep in mind, whether you’re attempting to boost your SEO yourself or looking to hire a pro to do it. The more educated you are about what you have and what you need, the more informed you will be during your consult with the SEO experts. If they don’t discuss the trends below, they’re not up to date; move on to someone else.

With that in mind, here are the SEO trends expected to dominate in 2017:

1. Search queries that maximize user experience

In 2017, we’ll see both diversification and increased sophistication of search queries, all focused on maximizing the user experience.

Users will increasingly use full queries or phrases in search engines. People aren’t just looking for “blue shoes”; they are looking for “blue shoe retailers in Upstate New York.” Consumers today know exactly what they are looking for and are aware that typing in simple words yields simple results. Full phrase queries will be favored over keywords.

Voice searches, which we’ll discuss more fully later on, will also become more prominent as users take advantage of the hands-free, fast searches.

Search engines are also becoming better at identifying user intent based on such things as former searches, geographic location, interests and so on. So even if you type in a partial phrase, Google, for example, will guess at what you were trying to inquire about.


What it means for your business:

What does all this mean for you, as a business owner or marketer trying to boost your SEO? Each day, over 3 billion searches are performed on search engines. If you can capture a greater share of those searches, that’s potential revenue for you! For example, instead of trying to incorporate a specific phrase you’re trying to rank for throughout your copy, be more natural in your language on that page. Search engines are now smart enough to be able to match user intent with content on your page.

2. Increased mobile growth

Closely related to optimizing for user experience is optimizing for increased mobile growth. More than 50% of searches globally come from mobile; in the U.S. alone, about 58% of searches are from mobile.  That’s trend isn’t being ignored by search engines. Google, for example, will sites that are better optimized for mobile devices, meaning websites that almost instantly load, sites with easy mobile navigation, etc.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs), a project from Google and Twitter, are an open-source protocol that allow you to create pages capable of fast loading on mobile devices using a stripped down version of HTML.

A handful of simple structural changes can make your site load up to four times faster and use eight times less data. Already, Google is starting to favor sites that have switched over to AMPs, giving them visibility in a carousel and a small icon (with a lightning bolt), indicating their AMP status.

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Photo Credit: Howtogeek.com

What it means for your business:

Your site HAS to be optimized for mobile if you want to grow your business; there’s no disputing that. If it’s not, hire a web developer and an SEO (you can find them both in the same place in awesome firms like ours); the investment will be well worth it.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Google has a tool that will let you know, here. Don’t be afraid; literally, all you do is type in your website URL and out spits the information (See image below). If it’s not optimized for mobile, read the above paragraph again: hire a web developer to get it done. It also has a site for people who, if you’re technical enough, can help you configure your site for multiple devices and boost your mobile SEO. Check that out here

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Download: 17 SEO Myths You Need to Stop Believing Right Now

3. More rich answers and snippets

You’ve probably noticed that when you do a web search, Google will often display a sentence or partial sentence in the search results, along with other helpful related information such as videos on the topic, movie or event information, reviews or related websites.  The meta description you wrote (you DID write one, correct?) should be included here, but if you use a rich snippet, Google can display a bit more information about the actual result, specifying if the result is a review, a person, product, business, etc. 

See below; SEO guru Neil Patel shows you exactly what are considered rich snippets. The other copy below the snippets is the meta description.  

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But how does Google know which rich answers – also known as a “direct answer” or “featured snippet” – to show, and how does it decide to display yours over a competitor? It’s to your advantage to have a structured data markup, otherwise known as a “schema markup.” This markup helps search engines understand your website content, helping you to turn up in the appropriate searches above your competitors.

What it means for your business:

The volume of rich answers appearing in search results has nearly doubled from 2014 to 2016, and we’re likely to see an even greater number in the coming year.

Search results with rich snippets are thought to get at least 30% more clicks than results without Users love quick access to useful information, so it’s to your benefit to utilize these snippets and be a resource for those searching.

Have your web developer install the All in One Schema.org Rich Snippets plugin.

If you sell items on your website, rich snippets are extremely valuable for you; the snippets can show your product reviews, which, as you know, are key to getting others to buy your products.

Looking to improve your site SEO quickly? Check out this infographic for 7 things you can do right now!

4. Cross-channel marketing

Think of cross-channel marketing as an extension of multi-channel marketing – which is marketing on more than one platform - whose goal is to create a consistent brand presence so that users can move seamlessly between devices and platforms to make a decision. Cross-channel simply means you’re using several platforms to market in an integrated way.

According to Econsultancy’s fourth annual Cross-Channel Marketing Report, 73%  of respondents claimed that cross-channel marketing had a significant impact on increased conversion rates.

Consumers today are staying connected on a variety of devices at various times and places, and want to see consistent messaging throughout a company or brand’s marketing platforms. making the need for quality cross-channel marketing an absolute necessity throughout 2017.

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What it means for your business:

This all means that in order for you to be successful, you need to create a clearly defined strategy with a clear goal: are you trying to get new customers, increase sales, offer incentives, get them to subscribe, etc.? A successful campaign ideal integrates direct and indirect communication channels like: websites, mobile media, social media campaigns, PPS, direct mail, email etc.  Be sure you’re providing a consistent customer experience across all channels, and know your customer habits.

5. Rise of long-form, dense content 

Aren’t you getting tired of reading the same fluff content over and over again, only in different words? So are the majority of consumers. Providing long-form content (i.e., content that is 2,000-4,000+ words) that comprehensively covers a topic instead of just churning out 400-word blog posts just to get something up will be more the trend in 2017.

Producing so-so short content in large volumes will no longer boost your SEO visibility as much as it used to. You need to surpass the quality and scope of all other content that’s out there on the same topic, add your own commentary and perspective, and be the authoritative voice on the subject. The search engines will place much more value on this type of content.

Creating long-form content combined with a good promotional strategy, will yield greater online visibility, as it will lead to more social shares and links, which will feed the organic growth.

Density of content, however, is still the trump card here. Focus on providing as much information as possible in the smallest possible space. Dense content, rather than just long-form content will have the greatest appeal, and ultimate value, to your readers.  

What it means for your business:

In 2017, create exceptional content that resonates with a vast audience. Take the time to write a well thought-out, well researched post with your commentary and insight as added value. If you can only do 1 post per week, that’s fine – focus on quality. Give users information they can’t find elsewhere and prove your value so they’ll keep coming back. Don’t have time to write or feel like you’re writing skills aren’t up to snuff, hire a copywriter who will work with you on conveying your thoughts and insight in a meaningful way.

6. Increasing use of machine learning by search engines

The rise in use of machine learning by search engines in 2017 should come as no surprise. Although machine learning algorithms have been around for awhile, they’ve gotten smarter and faster. Need a few examples of machine learning applications?

  • Online recommendations offered by Amazon, Netflix and similar entertainment systems.
  • Self-driving Google car
  • Twitter’s ability to tell you what customers are saying about you

Want to know why Tony Robbins ads are stalking you everywhere you go online (like they are with us?) That’s because we liked his Twitter and Facebook profiles, and visited his website. Websites recommending items you might like to buy based on previous purchases – yup, that’s machine learning. Algorithms take the data churned out based on your previous web activity to determine what you might like to see, buy or learn more about, next.

Google’s October 2015 release of its RankBrain algorithm signaled that integrating better understanding of natural language into machine learning was going to be big in search. RankBrain pays attention to your behavior and queries and the result of those queries, then runs the data in real-time to deliver search results that users find the most useful.

Understanding language helps search engines better understand the actual user intent with a search query, and do a better job of matching up those queries with the web pages that best meet that intent.

Keyword research still very much matters –it still provides you with critical knowledge about how the consumer is referring to products or services like yours and helps you communicate with your prospects. Keywords should be used in your title tags, your meta description, and body copy.

What it means for your business:

When it comes to aligning your website with the purposes of machine learning, you need to provide the best possible experience to users and satisfy the needs of those users. Better match your content to the intent users had when they navigated to your site. Put yourself in a better position to win the fight for consumer attention.

How do you do this? One big way is to provide content personalized to each individual who comes to your website. Personalized content can increase engagement and clicks by as much as 60%. Integrate thank-you pages after users download content, send them an email suggesting other content based on their interests, etc.

This trend also means:

  • You will have to focus more on SEO; put yourself in your audience’s shoes
  • The user will become even more powerful
  • Creating useful content will become even more important

7. Continuing evolution of Voice Search 

In 2017, voice search will go beyond voice recognition and evolve into voice understanding.

Voice search technology may have been a novelty when Apple’s Siri first came on the market, but now we have Google Assistant (which powers Google Home, which we have and LOVE), Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa, and many other voice recognition technologies. It has become one of the fastest-growing search options.  A 2014 Google study indicates that over half of U.S. teens and 41% of U.S. adults use voice search daily – and that was before Google Home, Alexa and other tools we now know and love were even on the market. 

The appeal is undeniable. It’s hands-free, fast and futuristic. One study reveals that more than half of queries will be voice search by 2020.

As machine learning further develops an understand of language, voice search will evolve along the path from just voice recognition to voice understanding; it will draw from previous searches, location-based context, context based on frequently used apps, personalized information, and keyword research based on spoken queries

With massive improvements to Siri, Google Now and Cortana, you need to think beyond text-based queries in 2017.

What it means for your business:

Voice search is different very different than traditional search, and the queries differ. Voice searches are typically longer, more details phrases or questions. What this means for you, is that your SEO efforts need to focus more on long-tail keywords and full phrases; set up your website to answer the questions your audience are most likely to be asking. Do keyword research to determine the exact phrases people are using to search. Make your copy more conversational in tone. Be sure you’re also engaging in Local SEO, which is more popular than ever, especially with the rise of voice search. For example, many people search for “hair salons near me.”

But the bottom line is, you need to understand how voice search works to best react to it.

As we wrap up, we'd love to know: what are some of your BIGGEST SEO questions? We'll be try to answer them in upcoming posts. We want to help you succeed! If you have any questions at all or need help, don't hesitate to contact us; we'll be happy to help! We're SEO experts, so you don't have to be!

And if you want more great info on SEO and what works - and doesn't - anymore, click on the button below to get our free guide, "SEO Myths You Should Leave Behind." 

In this guide, you'll learn:

  • 17 SEO myths you NEED to leave behind
  • 17+ helpful SEO tips to start implementing
  • Simple SEO tricks you can utilize to set you apart from competitors
  • How to effectively and efficiently improve your organic search strategy

 Up your SEO game and get found by more potential customers today!

Download: 17 SEO Myths You Need to Stop Believing Right Now



 

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