10 Important Lessons About the State of SEO in 2017

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) changes constantly, with new developments on the horizon at any given moment. This offers quite the predicament for business owners who utilize SEO as part of their marketing strategies. Continue reading for easy-to-digest education on the 10 most important elements of SEO this year in order from the oldest to newest trends.

1. Content

You’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again: When it comes to SEO, nothing beats good content. People hate poorly written information, and search engines do, too. So, what are they looking for?

  • Keywords: Don’t keyword stuff, but do use relevant keywords organically throughout your content.
  • Length: Longer content has a higher ranking on a search engine results page (SERP).
  • Recycling: When it comes to recycling content, there’s an easy answer: don’t. You’ll be penalized for that. If you do reuse content on your own site, you need to be savvy about it.
  • Frequency: Post regularly and often. Readers like to know they can depend on your content, and search engines push recent content to the top of the results.

2. Customer Reviews

Once upon a time, customer reviews on sites like Yelp would push your site higher on Google results – even if the reviews were bad. Google quickly fixed this issue. Now, positive reviews bump you up, but negative ones push you further down. Solutions for you to manage your customer review funnel have been in high demand. These solutions allow easy accessibility for customers to leave reviews and enable you to respond to reviews quickly. Check out the Advent Media Group customer review funnel here, which is a component of our integrated online marketing services.

3. Website Performance

Sites that take a long time to load are a pain for viewers and for SEO. If your page loads slowly, Google and Bing rank faster sites above you. Keep your site fast to boost your rankings. The speed of your website is largely (but not completely) determined by the size of and how many files are on your website. The free Google Developer tool called PageSpeed Insights provides actionable instructions and tells you (or your marketing/tech resources) how to improve your website performance.

4. Social Media

Those “likes” and “shares” on social media give you more than just a warm, fuzzy feeling – they also boost your ranking in nearly real-time. Tweets are displayed in searches, and so are posts from Linkedin, Facebook and Reddit. Some marketing analysts believe even pins on Pinterest push you higher in the results. A sound social media strategy will maximize your potential for quality links, which is covered next.

5. Links

Your inbound and outbound links both affect your rankings. Here’s how:

  • Outbound: The sites you link to are noticed by Google, and they help the search engine determine the relevance of your site for search results. Most proven SEO experts believe that linking out to trusted sites gives you a boost as well.
  • Inbound: Inbound links work the same way, but backwards. Sites that link to your site will get a boost in rankings, and this also boosts your rankings because Google sees you as a trusted authority on the subject.

6. Site Security (SSL)

No one’s certain that Google ranks pages based on security, but we are certain that they crawl for SSL data. How do we know? Because they told us. It’s pretty safe to assume what they’re doing with that information. Make sure you have an SSL certificate on your website. If your website url contains https:// at the beginning in the top of your browser bar when you arrive on it, you’re good to go.

7. Descriptions

You know all those descriptions you’re asked for when creating a blog post or updating a website page (meta, alt, etc.)? They’re important, and so are the headings you use when creating your content. Use heading tags (e.g., H1, H2, H3) for formatting, and put your keywords in the headings to boost your ranking.

​8. Schema Markup

Schema markup (a.k.a. structured data markup) is code you enter on your site that lets search engines use your content as rich snippets. If you’re unfamiliar, rich snippets are lengthened bits of text that appear when you search for a keyword. For example, if you search for “largest city in Georgia,” you’ll likely get a map of Atlanta as your top result.

​As you can guess, schema markup is new and boosts your SERP rankings. Last year, Google Webmaster Tools became the “Google Search Console” and hopefully you or your team are already implementing the use of structured data. This helps your content and website pages stand out in search results, and can maximize the potential of local SEO.

9. Mobile

​Mobile devices aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In the past, search engines pushed for sites that were mobile-friendly; now, they’re practically demanding it. In fact, Google recently announced they’ve started indexing mobile results first in all search results. As Google (and the world) go mobile-first aiming to get people exactly what they are looking for and as quickly as possible, the types of content being favored by users will drastically change.

10. Voice

So, after reading the first nine areas of SEO to focus on in 2017, what’s left? Before the 2016 holiday season, the Amazon Echo was purchased by over five million Americans. How long do you think it will be until devices like this are introduced and developed to simplify tasks in the workplace? If you want to prepare for the future, focus on voice innovation. Voice-activated searches will gain popularity over the next year, and it’s never too early to prepare for the next big thing.

​Director of Product Development

About the Author

Gina Young designed her first website at the age of 14 for her high school’s athletic department. It’s all been a learning experience from there. Gina attended Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where she grew her skill set working in customer service, media production and web development roles. ​Today, Gina has helped over 50 small business owners in the United States launch new websites and expand their local marketing efforts. Her hobbies include photography, sports, the outdoors and maintaining a digitized closet.

 

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