Ignore this advice regarding SEO 2017 at your own peril! Search engine optimization is always evolving but 2017 is unique in that some changes are more drastic than usual. 2017 marks some of the most significant changes since Panda and Penguin updates.
Here are the trends most noted by experts.
Mobile Excellence is a must!
If Google does what they say they will, and they usually do, 2017 is the year mobile friendliness becomes a requirement and not optional for search engine visibility. They have introduced their new Mobile-First indexing. This means that Google is going to rank your website using your mobile presence and this will impact your search results on desktop as well. In other words, if your mobile site delivers a poor user experience your desktop search rankings may suffer. What if you don’t have a mobile site? Google will still crawl and index your site but your search visibility may suffer.
According to data compiled by Smart Insights, 51% of the time spent on the Internet was done via mobile devices and 80% of Internet users own smartphones. M-commerce is critically important for both online only and bricks and mortar store.
Designing for SEO 2017
If you haven’t refreshed your site design in a few years, your website is probably not as mobile friendly as it should be. Check how mobile friendly your site is here. Another great way to test your site is via UserTesting.com. The insights offered by these tools is extremely helpful.
Website designers have been touting “mobile first design” for several years. However, for ecommerce sites this mantra may not be the best option. While mobile sites definitely rule social networks and email, shoppers in Western countries are still more likely to do their shopping on a desktop or laptop device. Our data suggests that buyers like to browse on their phones, then buy on a computer. This means that while a great mobile site is still a must for your store, you may need to focus more energy on your desktop sites to meet the needs of your buyers. Don’t focus on mobile design to the exclusion of your main website!
Know your customers!
This is an area where it is critically important to know your audience. Younger shoppers are more likely to shop via mobile but most age groups are using a combination of mobile, tablet and larger screened devices. Some products don’t lend themselves to an easy online purchase. If your product requires significant configuration or a detailed description, it probably won’t sell as well on a phone as it does on a larger screen. This doesn’t mean you should ignore mobile. What it does mean is that your mobile site should support your main website and the design of it may need to be simplified. You may want a mobile specific design, an “m.yoursite.com” instead of relying on responsive design.
Does your business need an app?
Don’t jump right into app development. Some products lend themselves to a shopping app. If your products are customized and lend themselves to repeat purchases, you may find developing an app a smart move. My favorite example of a great app that encourages repeat purchases is the one Domino’s Pizza has. The ease of use encourages both repeat purchase and brand loyalty.
Other products don’t lend themselves to frequent repeat purchase or require extensive customization. A responsive site is likely your best choice in these instances. Many people do not download apps and research indicates app usage is declining. Plus if you have an app, you have to market your app as shoppers will not automatically search for it.
Again, the rule is to know your audience.
Enough about mobile, what other changes are coming?
SEO 2017 is all about relevance. Google’s goal is to provide a highly relevant search result. For local businesses, this means your local SEO needs to be optimized if it isn’t already. It also means that the influence of inbound links is dropping. Our advice regarding inbound links remains the same as always – only link in from pages that will drive an audience interested in your products. This ensures visitors are more likely to become buyers and helps build awareness for your brand. If a link is driving good traffic, it will always be good for your business. Choose your links because they drive good traffic and worry less about whether or not they drive your rankings. If you’re a local business, seek out local referral sources for links. The relevance of your inbound links always matters.
It’s a visual world
Video is increasing in importance. YouTube is the #2 search engine so your visibility there is becoming a must. YouTube videos can also help you increase your search engine visibility as YouTube videos are included in Google search results. Facebook is also trying to dominate the world of video content. Video ads are also increasingly common. If you’re not regularly creating video content, now is the time to do it. Video lets you speak to your customer in a way written words cannot. One easy way to use video is via Facebook Live. Facebook Live is a great way to introduce a new product or answer common questions.
Key takeaways for SEO 2017
- A great mobile web experience is no longer optional.
- View your mobile presence as a customer and design to best suit their needs.
- Google is increasing its emphasis on relevancy so make sure your content/site is highly relevant to your target audience.
- Add quality video content to your content plan.
Are you doing anything differently for 2017? Tell us about it.