If you’re thinking of optimising a website for search in 2017, there are three important trends to keep in mind. By using related keywords, optimising for mobile and creating a customer experience that’s based on conversions rather than just visits, you can ensure that not only are visitors coming to your site, but that they are also taking the kinds of actions that you want them to take.
You don’t want to repeat a single keyword phrase throughout a post or page anymore. You want to optimise the post for your main keyword phrase by including it in the title, in the first paragraph, in the last paragraph, and in the header image’s filename, ALT text, and title text.
But from that point on, you want to get some related keywords in mind that you can intersperse throughout the article. Let’s say you’re writing about “Google technology.” Using Rank Tracker, you can get insights into related keyword phrases and how they stack up against your chosen phrase using insights from a variety of resources beyond Google AdWords Keyword Planner.
That covers text search, but what about voice search? Voice search has been an ongoing project in the tech industry for a few years now. In the process of working out the details, it has become one of the fastest-growing search options. The appeal is undeniable – it’s hands-free, fast and futuristic.
The goal for voice search in 2017 is to go above and beyond voice recognition and evolve into voice understanding. This involves several changes with respect to previous searches, location-based context, context based on frequently used apps, personalised information and keyword research based on spoken queries. In other words, a user may get completely different results based on his or her location and prior search experience.
The buzzword everyone is talking about heading into 2017 is AMP (accelerated mobile pages). In short, your website pages are going to show up higher in search if they load quickly on mobile devices. This area is getting bigger and Google is placing greater emphasis on it.
AMP is a way to build web pages for static content that renders fast. AMP in action consists of three different parts:
- AMP HTML is HTML with some restrictions for reliable performance and some extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML;
- AMP JS library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages;
- The Google AMP Cache can be used to serve cached AMP HTML pages.
Mobile accessibility has reshaped SEO over the past few years. Mobile search is growing at a rapid pace and isn’t showing any signs of slowing down in the future. Traffic distribution has been shifting away from desktop and moving towards mobile devices, and many websites are already getting the majority of their traffic from mobile devices.
As a result, websites have to be mobile friendly. It’s almost impossible to overemphasise this point. If you don’t use responsive web design and try to use any common content management (WordPress, Joomla, Squarespace) or e-commerce (Shopify, Magento) solution, your pages are not going to load as quickly as they should. The good news is that there are many responsive designs out there for you. The goal should be for your pages to look as good on your desktop as they do on your mobile device.
While rankings are great, it’s time to stop focusing on them as an all-or-nothing way to determine if SEO is working. It’s not about being number one for the keyword phrase with the highest search volume. It’s about being number one (organically and/or paid) for the keyword phrase with the highest search volume that will get you conversions.
Think about this in terms of leads for a sales team. There are leads, and then there are qualified leads – the types of prospects who have the greatest chance of becoming future customers. In the same way, you can think of your website as attracting a mix of unqualified and qualified leads. As a result, you don’t just want any old garden variety of traffic, unless your income is based off the cost per impression advertisers buying space on your website.
Why is qualified traffic the best to generate? Because not only is it most likely to convert, but because even if it doesn’t, it’s the best to use for retargeting in Google AdWords, social media ads, and other remarketing campaigns.
Thus, a conversion-focused approach is important for your bottom line. It’s going to raise your quality across the board. It’s going to raise the level of your content, your meta titles, your descriptions, your images, your videos, your social posts, your interviews and your roundups. Everything you do in the name of marketing will be done with higher quality because your endgame isn’t just to get a link. Your endgame is to get a potential customer into your sales funnel.
You can think of a website visit as the new entry point of your sales funnel. The higher the quality of prospects going into the funnel, the more sales you’ll have coming out at the other end. That’s the way it works in real world sales, and that’s also the way it now works on the web.
Investigate, optimise, adjust
The year 2017 will be a big year all around. Brands will need to place value on optimising their digital content based on intent rather than specific keywords. For your SEO strategy, it will be critical to:
- Investigate. What are users searching for that brings them to your page? What questions do they want your content to answer?
- Optimise. Once you have gathered your research data and found areas that need work, make the changes needed to boost ratings. Based on your research, tell the consumer’s story by altering content to reflect the reader’s experience.
- Adjust. Keep up with analytics to see what’s working and what isn’t so you can update accordingly.
Users are becoming increasingly connected and engaged with the content they consume. It’s very important for SEO marketers to factor these upcoming trends into the bigger picture in order to be prepared to take on future challenges.