Creating a good SEO strategy requires you to be able to grow with an ever-changing industry. Some trends will gain traction throughout 2017 and others will lose popularity. All the while, you’re expected to adapt along the way. While it’s impossible to predict what SEO trends will influence us the most over the next ten months, we can still prepare for what the future holds.
Here are the top three SEO practices you should be using during 2017:
Get Mobile Responsive, and Fast
There has been a lot of talk about the importance of responsive web design over the past couple of years, but the focus has now turned toward optimum builds for mobile use. Having a mobile-friendly website in 2017 isn’t just a good strategy anymore, it’s an absolute necessity.
If you’re still on the fence about the importance of mobile-friendly websites, consider this: 75% of the world’s internet traffic will come from mobile devices in 2017. You can rest assured that Google has recognized this trend, which is precisely why the company has taken steps to prioritize mobile use.
Google’s announcement of a mobile-only index is huge news. It’s a way of saying get on board with responsive web design or be left behind. While desktop isn't becoming obsolete, it does mean that more resources will be focused on developing the mobile-only index, and desktop search may one day become an afterthought, much like mobile used to be.
You probably already know that Google’s algorithms give preference to responsive sites, but did you know that they’re also implementing a revolutionary “mobile-first” algorithm? With that in mind, it’s not far-fetched to assume that Google will increase priority of mobile responsive sites in 2017, or even penalize those catering only to desktop users.
Start Optimizing for Voice Search
Believe it or not, the move towards voice searching is partly because of Bing. While it may seem like Google doesn’t have much search engine competition, voice searching has made Bing a viable competitor. In fact, about one-quarter of all Bing queries are voice searches, and by 2020, it's estimated approximately half all search queries will be voice-related.
Even more surprising to most is that Siri, Cortana, and Alexa all use Bing for voice search queries. Clearly, voice SEO strategy will become an actual "thing" in the near future. You can be sure Google knows it, so expect new developments in this arena as the search giant strives to maintain its firm grip on search engine usage.
So how do you optimize a site for voice searches? Here are some things to consider when hammering out an action plan for improving your voice SEO:
1. People use different phrases when they perform voice searches.
Instead of using keywords, their queries sound more natural. There’s going to be a time when good SEO practices require us to move away from unnecessary keywords and move towards conversational phrases.
2. Stay current with devices and their search engines.
Right now, with the release of Amazon Echo, Bing has captured a large portion of the market for smart devices, but that could change as new technology like Google Home is released. Just make sure that you create a voice SEO strategy that helps you the most. For example, if your entire site tailored for iPhone users, you might want to focus more on optimizing it for Bing rather than Google.
3. Take a look at your analytic data.
A good way to build a site optimized for voice searches is to look at how people came across your site in the first place. Don’t focus on the keyword-based searches as you go through your data. Instead, look for the searches that sound natural. Chances are, those people stumbled upon your page through a voice search.
4. Don’t anticipate keywords, answer questions.
Since the emergence of voice searches will shift the focus from keywords to naturally used phrases, it’s likely people will come across your site by asking a question of their virtual assistant. If you want to prepare for this and become voice search-optimized, you’ll need to spend time thinking about the questions people may ask regarding your niche. Once you’ve done that, you can begin developing content centered on answering these questions, similar to what’s done now with SEO.
Build an AMP Version of Your Site
Have you ever noticed those little lightning bolts that appear next to some Google search results on your phone? Those are Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), and they're going to be an important part of building a successful website. Why? Because nobody likes slow page loading times, especially mobile users.
The concept behind AMP was to create a supercharger that speeds up mobile websites, which can have a positive impact on your traffic and conversion rates. Google was able to achieve this by modifying existing website structures to create the following elements for mobile websites:
- AMP HTML
- AMP Content Delivery Networks
The end result is a mobile-optimized site that loads more than twice as fast as non-AMP sites, which is important considering the rise in mobile traffic.
You may be asking yourself, “do I really need an AMP site?” The answer is yes. Having a slow website can inhibit traffic, thus reducing conversion rates. Are you still unsure? Consider this: approximately 40% of internet surfers give up on a site that takes longer than three seconds to load.
With that said, Google Analyst John Mueller, admitted in an hour-long video chat that AMP doesn’t affect Google rankings. Still, SEO is an area that’s constantly evolving, especially regarding mobile devices. Just because AMP doesn’t play a role an influential role in SEO right now doesn’t mean AMP sites won’t be rewarded with better results in the future.
The Final Word on SEO in 2017
It’s not hard to see that there’s a shift in how people are performing search queries. While it’s impossible to predict what 2017 has in store for us, it’s safe to assume that desktop usage is on the decline and that Google and Bing are catering to mobile users. Keeping that in mind, the best SEO strategy for the following year is one that accommodates mobile devices. For this reason, it’s imperative to have a responsive website that caters to readers on smartphones and tablets.