SEO Trends You Can't Ignore for 2017
For many of us, the fourth quarter is no longer about the current year. We are strategizing, planning and forecasting for the year ahead. We’re closing out 2016 and measuring against goals that were set at the beginning of the year. As we gather ideas for the next year, one of them should be to focus on digital marketing and optimization initiatives – more specifically, SEO.
While we all know that content is king and has been for a few years, it’s not just about creating content but getting that content to your key audiences. Fabulous content will do nothing for your brand if no one sees it.
Here are a few things to keep your eye on as you plan for 2017:
First, what is Schema? It’s the structured data on a web page that search engines use to understand what a page is about and in turn, return a more useful search query.
Schema.org is the centralized home for this data vocabulary. Search engines (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Russian search engine, Yandex) collaborated in the development of the community with the goal of creating a vocabulary that all search engines can understand. Search engines are then able to pull out relevant information and make search result pages more informative. Schema elements and attributes can be added directly to the HTML code of a web page to provide the search engines’ crawlers with additional information.
Why will this matter in 2017? As search engines continue to refine their algorithms, companies will want their pages to be pulled to the top of the results pages. This also becomes important with Google’s Quick Answers or Rich Card.
Search Engine Results Page Changes
Google has played with the layout of its search result pages over the last year. Whether it lasts or not, Google has currently increased the length limit of title tags in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) to about 70 characters (and in some cases 78 characters on mobile). Title tags tell search engines and visitors what a page on your website is about. Typically, title tags are about 55-60 characters.
What does this means for SEO? This change will allow more room for long-tail keywords and more opportunity to use natural language (everyday language instead of short disjointed keywords) in titles and descriptions.
Some tips for how to take advantage of this are:
- Use main keywords in the beginning of title and descriptions
- Experiment with expanding the characters in your description
- Be sure that your meta descriptions are more than 100 characters to avoid descriptions getting buried
Speed to load
In 2015, Google launched a mobile update, which rewarded brands with mobile-friendly websites. And this past May, Google further expanded on that update by “increasing the effectiveness of its mobile ranking signal.” Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are stripped-down versions of actual web pages, which help brands speed up their sites. We all know that when a page is slow to load, we lose our patience and move on.
While AMP is not currently recognized in Google’s algorithm, load time is. Mobile site optimization becomes a key element to user engagement. This will also affect organic and paid content. Since AMP sites will float to the top of SERP on certain mobile searches, everything else will get pushed down. And, because faster load times means that customers will view more pages, this will increase opportunities to display ads.
Some tips to take advantage of AMP and SERP include:
- Avoid unnecessary images and scale down existing images
- Skip complicated images that require longer load times
- Compress your website, if possible
- Keep only essential cookies
Digital trends will continue to shift and change and it’s on us, the keepers of the content, to be aware of what’s new. It behooves us to help educate and advise our client on the best optimization tactics for their websites so the content we create for them is easily found. What digital trends do you think will be most important in 2017?