Staying on top of what’s shaping the future of SEO is key to online success, and with its ability to transform at a breakneck pace, now’s the time to start prioritizing the latest best practices in SEO.
As we wave our handkerchiefs to summer and prime our marketing strategies for 2017, we’ll walk you through which techniques and practices will serve as the best traffic drivers for your website in the year to come.
Evolve With the SERPs
Over the past year, search engine results pages (SERPs) have undergone incremental changes with important implications, like increasing the length limit of meta descriptions and titles.
While it still hasn’t been confirmed if these changes are here to stay - or simply the subject of A/B testing - this opens up a window of opportunity to better describe your product to users in a more compelling, elaborate fashion. One notable benefit of extending the titles is that it can make room for brand name placement at the end of it, enhancing brand visibility on a search result without having to cut into your content.
If your meta descriptions clock in at anything below 100 characters, you should consider increasing them to prevent your descriptions from getting obscured by the updated character limits. For those who are still confined to the original character limits, continue placing your primary keyword at the beginning of both your title and meta description.
Use Schema Mark-up
Rewind to about 3 years ago when Google started working infoboxes into search results by using the Knowledge Graph to display relevant search information. This eliminated a step for users as they could find answers to their frequently-asked questions on the search page without having to actually click through.
These infoboxes are a simple way to give your website attention as they extract rich snippets from your site pages and prominently display them at the top of search results.
Since Google is the self-proclaimed champion of internet relevance, one of the leading factors for SERP rankings is relevancy. But you don’t have to be the top search result in order to receive the infobox treatment. To be included in the Knowledge Graph - and to capitalize on your attention to detail - you must strategically integrate Schema markup into your website.
In the words of Google, Schema is a “code that you put on your website to help the search engines return more informative results for users.” The biggest benefit of leveraging microdata is that it provides more context for search engines which, in turn, helps them better understand, index, and rank your website.
Schema.org is a great one-stop resource for getting your Schema markup off the ground. Important to note: similar to keyword research, arbitrarily stuffing Schema markup will do more harm than good with your ranking. All tags should be tied back to the going theme of your page.
Leverage PPC for Voice Search
AdWords saw some changes in 2016 and, according to WordStream, will be subject to even more in the near future. Recent changes were most notably marked with the elimination of right-hand column ads, longer text ads, desktop and mobile ads being handled as separate entities, and a reduced number of organic results showing up in SERPs.
For a while, PPC served as the end-all, be-all for determining the exact keywords entered into a query. But with the enormous growth voice search, more users than ever are asking their devices for help rather than typing questions into their phones--revolutionizing the way people use search engines to find answers. In fact, 71% of millennials in the U.S. are using personal assistants for the 5 W’s.
From a PPC perspective, adapting your campaigns to accommodate longer-tail queries is as critical as ever. Choosing the right search engine to base your PPC strategy around is important, as most voice-searching applications are Bing-powered and the majority of devices are contracted with Bing for voice applications.
Providing contextual content will play a role in the user experience - in addition to improving your quality score - which positively ripples into your PPC performance and helps guide searchers further down the funnel.
Mobile Speed: The New Ranking Factor
Google knows that sluggish load times negatively impact the user experience on mobile. The introduction of its AMP project in 2015 was designed to place importance on mobile device speed. It acts as a filter, removing excess from websites, which improves loading speeds by up to 85%.
And speaking of mobile, micro moments, the reflexive needs of device users (I want to know/go/buy/do), have become synonymous with the mobile experience. Brands who are able and agile enough to respond in these impulses will see a boost in their reputation.
To make sure your brand is one of them, your strategy should include the following: do away with unnecessary images or ones that require long-loading times, your cookies should only be the essentials, and - if at all possible - compress your web pages.
SEO in 2017 is about embodying “the answer.” Use the time left in 2016 to work these trends into your strategy and avoid being behind the eight ball.
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