SEO will never stop evolving. The object of search engine optimization is not to craft a strategy that you will cling to indefinitely. No, it is to change with the times and stay one step ahead of your competitors as the maturation unfolds.
The single most effective way to ensure that you are leading the corporate pack in the SERPs is by maintaining awareness of how engines are adjusting their algorithms so that you can pivot before your competition even knows what happened.
As you start to retool your strategy for the year to come, be sure to account for these four major shifts that are poised to rock the SEO landscape.
1. User Intent Optimization (UIO)As long as the current incarnation of search engines continue to reign supreme, keywords will still be incredibly important to SEO.
What has changed significantly is the type of keywords that are used. As the average consumer has greatly matured over the past decade or so, their queries have followed suit. And search engines have kept pace with this evolution as they are becoming more sophisticated at identifying user intent.
In 2017, while keyword importance will remain, much of the conversation will shift from specific keywords and phrases to user intent.
Brands can upgrade their digital strategy by first investigating the driving forces that pull users onto their websites; this will help to inform you on the type of content to craft and what questions need to be addressed in those materials.
Once you understand what brings consumers to your site, begin to optimize those areas to ensure greater effectiveness in furthering your company goals by getting visitors to take the desired action.
And, as always, continually monitor your site’s analytics and A/B test various features to ensure that the elements you have implemented speak to user intent and are properly converting.
2. Increased Schema SupportSchema markup, or structured data markup, is rapidly increasing in significance as Google continues to implement more and more featured answers for user queries and denser snippets for websites.
A recent study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting revealed that Google’s direct answers have nearly doubled since 2014. And, assuming that this trend continues, schema will play an increasingly important role in SEO.
Schema not only assists search engines in understanding your site’s content offerings, but helps to provide users with the most informative results possible. Thusly, bolstering your website’s schema markup increases the chances of your content becoming a featured snippet.
Users love these kinds of quick answers because it helps them gain exactly what they are looking for with speed. More importantly, however, is that content that is used for a featured snippet gains far more clicks and credence than those that are listed as normal.
But this isn’t the sole reason to further implement best practices for scheme. Now that Google has confirmed Rankbrain, its AI system, is the engine’s “. . . third most important signal contributing to the result of a search query,” business owners need to go the extra mile in ensuring that their websites are easily understood by the algorithm. This is where schema implementation is a massive benefit to a brand’s SEO blueprint.
3. Personal Branding BlowoutIn recent years, personal branding has been taken to new heights thanks to the capabilities of social media. In 2017, this trend is going to be taken to an entirely different level.
Personal branding already supports SEO in a myriad of ways; it amplifies content desirability because it is attached to a person and not a company, increases trust because consumers are wary of most any informative materials produced by an organization, and other beneficial perks.
The problem is that most business leaders are not taking advantage of the opportunities personal branding presents.
As social websites like Facebook continue to alter their algorithms in ways that negatively impact the reach of business pages, personal branding becomes more vital to social media success.
Personal branding serves to benefit the SEO of an organization as it becomes easier to land guest posts and thus drive traffic to a business page. Moreover, as personal brands begin to gain more followers, the corporate counterpart attached to the individual becomes ingrained in the minds of consumers as it is permanently linked to the personal brand.
While this explosion will make the space more competitive, this same competition will present a myriad of opportunities and collaborations.
4. A New Kind of ContentSome believe that written content will soon fade into obscurity as video’s online dominance continues to grow. This is absolutely not the case.
While writing will not disappear, in 2017 it will start to transform in the way that it is presented.
More antiquated versions of content marketing centered on pumping out as much short and easily-consumable content as possible. This later shifted as various studies uncovered that long-form, in-depth content ranked better in the SERPs.
As Google embarks on its mobile-first indexing “experiment,” a new form of content is ready to take center stage.
Mobile’s continued growth and eventual dominance of the Web means that long-form content is poised to largely disappear because it is not conducive for smaller screens. Instead, marketers will come to focus on writing short content that is packed with as much useful information as possible to cater to mobile users. The SEO implications of this are clear and it is only a matter of time before this new content format begins to take hold.
While it is challenging to definitively say what will transpire SEO-wise in 2017, these trends are likely to take shape in a meaningful way. Be sure to account for the upcoming changes when reviewing your strategy to stay one step ahead of your business rivals.
Which of these trends is most surprising to you? What SEO predictions do you have for 2017?
If you’re a small business owner who has recently launched an online store, or if you are thinking about entering the eCommerce sector, it is important to arm yourself with as much knowledge about this type of business as possible.
The booming industry is expected to generate at least $490 billion in U.S. sales by 2018, and it certainly doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The growth is attracting more and more entrepreneurs every year. This means that you’ll have increasing numbers of competitors to deal with, from around the world, not just in America.
As a result, you won’t get far with your venture if you don’t find ways to stand out from the crowd and please consumers with the wares you sell, and the shopping experience you provide. Shoppers are incredibly savvy these days, and won’t settle for sub-par customer service, product offerings, or shipping times.
If you want to create an eCommerce site that grows from strength to strength, one thing that can help you is to stay up-to-date on all the latest consumer preferences in online shopping. Read on for some of the most important eCommerce trends you need to be aware of today.
Various Payment OptionsOne of the most important trends to consider is the global consumer’s preference for multiple payment options upon arrival at the checkout. If online stores provide only one, or limited options, it can certainly affect conversion rates, because most shoppers expect to be able to choose from a variety of payment methods according to their needs and wants on the day.
While you might already be using a merchant services firm to finalize transactions on your site, you may currently limit payment options to debit cards and the basic Visa and MasterCard credit cards. If so, it’s time to expand what you offer, and let customers pay with their American Express and Diners Club cards, plus PayPal transactions, direct checks, BPAY, direct debit plans, over-the-phone transactions, mobile wallets, and even Bitcoin payments.
The more payment types you accept, the more likely it is that customers will find a method that suits them, and that will have them spending money with you sooner rather than later (not to mention returning to shop with you again in the future).
Speedy ShippingIn the last couple of years, shipping has also been a significant factor that consumers look at when deciding whether or not to go ahead with online purchases. While years ago shoppers were content to wait for as long as it took for their goods to arrive (often a week or two, or even longer), today people want to receive their orders very quickly. Most expect to have a parcel at their door within a few days, although overnight and same-day shipping has really grown in popularity of late.
If you run an eCommerce store, it is vital that you examine the shipping options you provide. Rather than simply offering standard shipping, it is best to give customers choices about the type of postage they can pick. You should consider including express shipping, as well as courier deliveries that can ensure overnight or even same-day delivery to local areas. Take a look at Amazon, which is the leader in this field, for further inspiration, as the eCommerce behemoth has really set a precedent when it comes to shipping.
Regular ContentWhile you might think that eCommerce success stems a lot from the type of products you sell and the customer service experience you provide (including shipping, payment options, communication and the like), it’s also important to note that you will enjoy quicker and more impressive growth in your business if you spend time concentrating on the content you post online too.
Take a look at any of the top, fastest-growing digital stores around the world, and you’ll see that the majority of them focus significantly on providing engaging content to their current and potential customers. Storytelling — whether done through words, images, videos, infographics, or the like — helps businesses in a number of ways.
Great content can make your venture to stand out from your competitors, and also helps you to showcase, describe, and sell your wares properly to shoppers so they understand the benefits of each item. Posting regular, interesting content for consumers to digest also increases the likelihood that people will interact with your brand and form an emotional connection with your business and/or its products and services.
To achieve greater success with your eCommerce store, you should look for new ways every week to tell stories online. This should not only be on your website, with fresh content, but also on your social media profiles, through your newsletters and blogs, via e-mails, and even on online advertisements.
Try to make all of your content educational, inspirational and/or motivational, not just sales driven and post updates about various things such as your company, the products you sell, your team, upcoming events you’re running or attending, and your industry in general