SEO is changing: Here are 5 trends you need to know

 

We SEO people are always a nervous lot. Apart from obsessively checking rankings, we are always waiting for Google to surprise us with some new update, trying to understand the intent of Google’s new programmes or its new acquisitions or decipher the messages that the search engine giant puts out on its webmaster blog. And because there is nothing we can do but wait with bated breath to understand the ramification of every new move and its effect on the SERPs, we are constantly searching for ways to understand the complicated nuances of SEO.

Don’t get me wrong. We love Google and all the authenticity it tries to bring to search results. But it also means that we have to constantly stay on our toes, be vigilant of changes and keep a keen eye on the trends that will influence Google’s strategy in the near future.

Over the last year and the first few months of 2017 some clear trends have emerged that have signaled Google’s preference for certain things. Check here this informative timeline created by Moz on the activities of Google in 2016.

 

Image Source: SEO and Digital Trends in 2017 (Moz)

Based on the activities that Google has been associated with over the past year, we have created a list of trends that are most likely to be prominent in SEO in 2017. If you are a smart SEO professional, strap up and let’s begin.

Here are the top five things you need to know about SEO today.

 

1. Creating ‘intelligent’ and optimized content

There are over 2 million blogs created on the internet everyday. The mind-boggling amount of content shows that people will be flooded with more choice than ever. There will several ‘expert’ views on the same topic. So how will your content outshine them all and get Google love?

The answer lies in how much you plan ahead before you actually write.

By ‘intelligent’ content, we mean content that is driven by data. It starts with understanding user intent via keyword search volumes, questions on open forums like quora and strategic target audience surveys which give you an insight on what they would love to read. This research will help you with multiple things

  1. Use the keyword in various contexts to ensure that you display authority on the topic to search engines
  2. You create holistic content which provides full coverage of the topic
  3. You get ideas to write long long-form which is otherwise difficult to come by.

Once your content is SEO ready (and by that we mean everything from title to footer is written with the audience in mind), be ready to amplify it with social media influencers to improve engagement.

2. Create ‘Responsive’ content

How often do you search on mobile v/s desktop? According to Google, 34% online purchases currently happen on mobile.

Here’s an interesting statistic for you – The foot traffic in retail stores declined by 57% in the last 5 years but the consumer spend on each buy tripled!

What does this mean?

People are able to gather a lot more information about their purchase before they actually visit the store for purchase.

Whether a user buys online or offline, being mobile optimized is no longer optional. Here’s what you can do right away

  1. Check your mobile load time: You can check your mobile load time here with Google’s page speed insights. If your speed time is less than 3 seconds then you are on track. If it is longer, 53% users may bounce off your site.
  2. Mobile SEO is real: Mobile SEO is about providing the right amount of information that can be quickly swiped through. While all other aspects of SEO hold true, some additional requirements for mobile include highly optimized images, javascript, CSS and redirects.
  3. Optimize for mobile intent: When a mobile user searches for a shop or location there is a 50% they’ll head there very soon. So what are people looking for here? Good reviews, timings, location, phone number and a little extra something that will ensure they visit.

 

3. Optimize for “Near me”

 

If you are a local business, hyperlocal will be hyper-valuable for you in the coming year. From booking movie tickets to buying groceries, people are looking for the trusted service from their local stores with the convenience of online shopping.

After all, who wants to wait in a winding supermarket queue on a Sunday evening! Wouldn’t it be better if your world came closer to home?

From “Guitar classes near me” to “Lunch options in <<location name>>”, online marketers need to fully own local search to capitalize from this phenomenon. Here’s what you can do.

Present local info correctly: 

Many Google local guides review if your shop is open at the time mentioned online and if you live up to your description. Double check your name, number, exact location and timings

Optimize your local business page: Start by verifying your business listing. In addition to the above info, you can also share what is unique about your business and also respond to reviews.

 

4. Change in the way people search

 

With search results becoming more and more efficient, most people use search to find an answer to their question quickly. Sensing this, Google started showing part of the answer within search results itself. While this slightly dissuaded people from visiting the website for the answer, it also led people to start optimizing towards directly answering people’s question.

This was moving towards a step in the future where people are now extensively using voice search. With the emergence of ‘search assistants’ like Siri and Cortana, the world is set to ask more questions around “Who, what, when, where, why and how’ directly.

Here’s how you can take advantage of this trend

  1.  Answer user queries: You know the questions so structure your blogs and articles to answer these queries. Type “How to make Pizza” and you’ll see part of the instruction steps jump out of the first search result.
  2. Align voice with local and mobile: Many searches happen when people are home or driving their car. Understanding intent of the search combining local, mobile and voice becomes a powerful way to understand the intent behind the search.

 

5. AI and machines will rule the world… almost

Image Source: Google: The Keyword

Google now processes 40,000 searches per second! That is a whopping 1.2 trillion searches worldwide every year. To make sense of this humongous data, Google uses machine learning to an extent to improve search. While there is a lot of speculation on Hummingbird, Rankbrain, Page Rank and the other names given to this AI, we do have an idea on what it does.

It tries to understand your ‘intent’ behind the search i.e. If you search for Java, it tries to differentiate between the programming language, the coffee and the Indonesian island based on your search intent.

It tries to enhance results based on your intent: If you search locally, pages that have more authoritative information on local search will be given preference.

While it is easy to get lost in the technicality, the core is to remember that all you need to do is offer high-quality authoritative content and the rest will work out.

Conclusion
To master search in 2017, make sure you have considered these five factors that can make your break your search engine presence. Do you have other SEO tactics that can be a game changer in the coming year?

Share with us.

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