It’s that time of the year again where we, as publishers, start strategizing our SEO success in 2017.
I feel like this year has flown by so fast but just before it ends I have a handful of tips to share with you that will help you rank better in 2017.
Looking back at this past year, my rankings for this website have grown by over 120% which I’m very proud of. Search now accounts for a 1/3 of my traffic.
93% of all online experiences begin with search.
Optimizing your website for search is no longer an option. Online searches are the number one way that most local businesses are found by new customers.
Take time to plan, budget and strategize your search success. There no better time to start than right now.
Wondering how the SEO landscape will look like this coming year?
Here’s my curated list of SEO trends and predictions for 2017.
1. Google’s 2017 Pop Up Crackdown
You probably already heard of this one.
On August 23rd, 2016 Google announced a mobile algorithm change that will come into effect on 10th January 2017.
This update is meant to provide the best user experience for mobile users. Google plans on cracking down on websites that show intrusive interstitials.
As Google points:
“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. “
Basically what this means is if someone visits your website they should be able to access your content right away and not be greeted with a popup.
Google even went further to list three examples scenarios where using popups might hurt your rankings:
- Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
- Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
- Using layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original has been inlined underneath the fold.
What does this really mean?
As a start, it will affect your mobile search results.
If you’re a publisher in Africa this should be a concern to you because 90% of people living here access the internet from their mobile devices.
That means that either way your website rankings will be affected.
Now for most publishers, like myself, this came as a surprise because popups are how we drive sign ups, conversions, and revenue.
Ever heard of the saying “The Money is in your List” well it’s true.
So what now? How can we move past this one without hurting our sales funnel?
Well, Google still allows you to use popups here are examples they gave for acceptable uses:
- Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as cookie usage or for age verification
- Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall
- Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.
My understanding of all these is…
Create popups that target only mobile visitors. Basically, don’t use the same popup for desktop and mobile.
The best way to achieve this is by adjusting your pop-up size to cover only a small portion of the screen.
Don’t forget to also adjust the copy to fit the mobile size Popup. Using smaller font sizes may be the way to go here.
Finally, be wise and choose a pop-up company that is compliant with the current Google’s mobile algorithm.
2. Google’s AMP Will Take Center Stage
AMP simply stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages.
This is Google’s initiative to build a more user-friendly mobile WEB by introducing a new standard for building web content for mobile devices.
We’ve already seen that Google is taking preference to websites that have implemented AMP.
I haven’t yet switched to AMP yet, but here are a few reasons why you should make that switch in 2017.
AMP Will Improve Your Ranking
AMP pages tend to perform better in search both in terms of ranking and CTR.
This type of favoritism by Google is going to continue to dominate and perhaps grow in the coming year.
Pages that have switched over to AMP will have a small icon, with a lightning bolt, indicating their status.
AMP Will Boost User Experience
According to Google structural changes can make your site load up four times faster and use eight times less data.
If your website takes more than 8-10 seconds of loading time and shows high bounce rates, you should probably consider using AMP.
AMP median load time is 0.7 seconds for AMP and 22 seconds for non-AMP pages.
This type of speeds will give your mobile visitors a truly enjoyable reading experience.
Wondering how to make the switch?
Fortunately, WordPress users don’t have to break a sweat to get AMP installed on their website.
Theirs currently a plugin that will help you set it up in no time.
After installing the plugin, you need to test and validate that elements of your page match the requirements.
If you don’t, Google will most likely not serve this page to users.
The fastest way to validate your AMP is using the Chrome Validation tool or Google’s Search Console.
As you do this remember to enable AMP stats in your Google Analytics account.
3. Optimize For Voice Search
Over 20% of searches are now vocal searches and by 2020 over 50% of searches will be by voice.
I know you’re probably thinking, what does that even mean?
This means that optimizing for Keywords is an SEO tactic of the past. Simply inserting keywords into content isn’t going to work.
Moving forward the Keywords you want to optimize for should be more conversational. Focus more on long tail keyword searches.
Google RankBrain was an algorithm released last year that opened the possibility of machine learning.
You should organize the content on your web pages in a manner that answers to these long-tail keyword questions.
Before you publish ask yourself how your content will best answer users’ searches.
According to Meeker’s searches, 22% of vocal searches are local and concern restaurants, shoppings, directions or local events.
If you want your business to rank locally, you seriously need to consider optimizing your website for voice search.
I believe Google’s Artificial intelligence algorithm will make its mark in 2017, you better be ready.
4. Google Will Give Priority To Secure Websites
I have published a couple dozen articles on security so this may not come as a surprise.
It’s been two years since Google started its active campaign for Web security.
This meant that websites with the HTTPs tag will rank better than those with simply HTTP.
Google goes on to say:
“People feel safe when they see HTTPs beside the domain name. We want to respect it”
This simply means that no matter how awesome your content is, you will be penalized for a simple technicality like this.
Here’s what you need to do to get secure according to Google
- Step 1: Host with a dedicated IP address.
- Step 2: Buy a Certificate
- Step 4: Install the Certificate
- Step 5: Update your site to use HTTPs
I know It’s a tedious process but it will boost the security of your website while helping you rank better.
5. Take Advantage of Schema
What you see above is an example of a Rich Snippet.
Schema makes it easier for search engines to understand your website and ensure that it is displayed correctly.
Rich snippets are a direct answer delivered in a summary format to a searcher’s question that Google shows in a special block as shown above.
These have been around for some time now and you’ve probably come across Rich Snippets quite often on the web.
Here’s what you didn’t know, most Rich Snippets are often displayed after a Voice Search.
Remember how I explained earlier that Voice Search is going to be huge in 2017? Well so will Rich Snippets, for this same reason.
Machine Learning is now Google’s third most important ranking factor. Make your website easy for machines to interpret.
By doing this, even though your website does not contain the Keywords that they were searching for, chances of them landing on your website are still quite high.
Well, folks clearly Google is taking a strong emphasis on the mobile experiences of it’s users.
From cracking down on intrusive interstitials to Google AMP, the future is mobile.
SEO game is all about staying ahead of your competition. After all there only ten slots on the first page.
Google RankBrain, Voice Search, Mobile User experience, AMP, and Schema Markup are poised to be the top 5 SEO Trends of 2017.
So now that you know, let’s kick ass in 2017 like never before.
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