When I was younger, my father used to bother my senses with a daily saying. After years and years of listening to the same phrasal construction, you get these words branded on your skin. He’d say that “success is where preparation meets opportunity.”
He was right. But how does this remembered sentence impact us warriors in the SEO field?
It’ simple: get ready, prepare yourself and expect the unexpected. In fact, it’s obvious that – if you don’t want to be caught with your pants down in the world of SEO and digital marketing – you shouldn’t only focus on the current trends. You should go beyond that, trying to thoroughly understand where these trends are heading.
However, if we look at a bigger picture, it’s fairly easy to notice that there has been a change in how SEO works over the past few years. These changes – both on search engine algorithms and marketing paradigms – mean that we can predict some things with certainty.
In this article, you’ll find a few tips on what to focus on in the wondrous year of 2017.
#1 Focus on User Experience
The prevailing theme of 2016 among leading SEO experts was the shift from the ranking factors to user experience, and rightfully so.
While this doesn’t mean that standard SEO tips and techniques are worthless now, changes in search engine algorithms have been made over the years to encourage focus on relevance and quality, instead of SEO and rank-hacking.
With the addition of latent semantic indexing and contextual, relevance-based search, keyword stuffing and short-tail keywords carry significantly less weight, and the ranking factors that are directly tied to user behavior, such as time spent on page, exit and bounce rate have become more important.
A survey of over 150 industry experts, published by MOZ, showed that page-level SEO is far more important than domain level SEO. Moreover, page keyword and content feature ranked third on the list, with an influence score of 7.87/10.
#2 Make the best content possible
While the concept of quality is a bit vague here, there are several key factors that can be used to define it and their importance is only going to grow. Quality content should be, first of all, unique and original.
This means that you need to bring something new and valuable to your readers. Plagiarizing has been frowned upon and penalized for a while now, but even rewritten/spun content is going to have less weight in the future.
While rewritten content still works well, it’s not a bad idea to adopt the consistent practice of writing fresh and unique posts as it’ll improve your user-experience metrics.
In addition, the content should be fairly long and well-researched, featuring reliable sources. Fun fact: the ideal length of an article from an SEO perspective is between 1000 and 2000 words.
However, you shouldn’t sacrifice writing quality for the sake of hitting target length. If the nature of your article requires a shorter (or longer) post, go with that.
Reliable sources and thorough research aren’t exactly straight SEO requirements. In fact, they’re more like appeals to common sense and overall decency. You should also never forget that leveraging the expertise of poor sources is also gonna be tragic and can backfire for real.
Trust me on this: in case your audience happens to actually be able to figure it out, you’ll certainly lose all credibility and your traffic will also suffer greatly.
Make your content easy to use and read. Your page should load fast, be easy to navigate, and the text should be in short paragraphs with several headings. People mostly tend to skim through text, so lots of whitespace is important to make your post approachable.
Creating super catchy content has an additional benefit – people share it more frequently.
Shareability is one of the top 10 factors from the MOZ survey I’ve previously alluded to and its importance will probably grow in the following years. Don’t underestimate these obvious, proven facts!
Once again, this doesn’t mean that more traditional SEO techniques have become obsolete. It’s still important that you optimize URLs, image descriptions, and also perform traditional on-page SEO.
#3 Multimedia is your friend
Great multimedia content improves both the user experience and your content’s general quality.
Different formats such as infographics, videos, podcasts, presentations, live streams, various e-books, guides, or white papers are growing in popularity. In fact, they’ll greatly increase both your audience retention and how share-worthy your content actually is.
While this might seem like a chore and investment, the advantages outweigh the effort.
Using different approaches to explore your content increases engagement and your target demographic as different people have different preferences, attention-spans and amounts of free time.
Indeed, some folks might want a quick read while riding the bus, while others may prefer an e-book they can download to their e-book readers or simply go for video content.
Besides driving traffic and engagement up, multimedia allows you to reuse content. A good, well-researched topic can be made into an infographic, video, and an article – nothing stops you from doing this.
Different content is also used by different search engines, allowing for independent ranking. For example, YouTube is an independent search engine from Google (even though they both belong to the same company).
In case you have both articles and videos, it means that you compete in two different markets for the chosen topic/keyword.
Add to this various interactive elements, such as surveys, quizzes, and games, and you’re good to go. Not only do you get increased engagement, but you can gain valuable insight into both your audience’s needs and behavior.
#4 Pay attention to mobile optimization and search engine changes
Mobile internet usage is rapidly growing and it already makes up around 50% of all internet traffic. This percentage will only increase in the future, so be sure that your pages are scalable and optimized for use on smartphones and tablets.
Google regularly updates their search engine, but the information is not available to the public. This means that marketers can only try and guess what the changes are, based on various metrics that are being constantly monitored.
Even though the resulting information fails to be 100% accurate, it’s pretty important to be informed about these changes as they happen, and try to keep up with them.
The internet is a very finicky place. I guess nobody can actually predict with 100% accuracy what will the trend, technique, or technology that we must look out for in 2017. Even so, there are some steps you can follow to make sure that you’re compliant with great SEO-Friendly content practices.
Next year will certainly bring a lot of changes in how we use the wonderful realm of internet.
This is why it’s so vital for you to focus on what you can control while never forgetting to be as flexible as possible.
Play around, experiment, and keep yourself informed, and you are surely going to succeed in 2017!
Author: Nemanja Pavlovic
Bio: Nemanja writes about Affiliate Marketing and SEO. The most important thing to know about him is that he’s obsessed with facts and truthful reporting.