The Future of SEO: Getting it Right in 2017
When it comes to digital marketing, the future of SEO continues to be a hot talking point.
Truth be told, there are still many marketers who struggle to grasp the core principles of SEO, the massive benefits it can bring to a business and how to implement an effective strategy in 2017.
But through no fault of their own - there are endless outdated opinionated articles and dubious “quick win” guides guaranteeing astronomical growth for very little input, so it is easy to see how one could find themselves embroiled in a web of not-so-effective tactics. But, when employing your SEO tactics, how do you know what guides and suggested methodology is correct? What separates fact from fiction?
To compare organic search from the early 2010s to now, the tactics used to improve search engine rankings are massively different. The act of buying links is now a one way ticket to a penalty, whilst producing beautiful, long-form content is hailed by some as the best of all tactics.
It would be impossible for somebody to profess they know everything about how Google works (the algorithm does, after all, change everyday.) However, working within an agency environment, looking after many different clients on a daily basis, our wider experience means we’re able to craft bespoke SEO strategies specific to each industry that produces positive results, time after time.
The Future of SEO - What Does it Look Like?
Fundamentally, a search engine is a product, and as such Google and the like are working towards making their product better: that means more relevant results, an almost-instant experience and tailored to mobile.
Search engines have made it clear over the past few years: the user must be priority. The latest search engine algorithms are clear evidence of that. So, how can your site stay in the green and maintain visibility resorting to black hat practices in an increasingly competitive market?
Often, I hear myself repeating the phrase ‘to keep Google happy’ to our clients. Google, as the market leader in search engines, is at the forefront of everything in the world of online - so, in order for your website to appear on page one, you have to follow the rules laid out by Google - and there are plenty of them.
We could get into the technical nitty gritty - but to sum up what Google looks for in a 2017 website: a well-maintained site, high quality content and a strong trustworthiness signal.
Conducting technical audits, backlink audits and brand monitoring campaigns can help to identify any existing weaknesses on your website, but these only scratch the surface of search engine optimisation practices and can equate to only so much leverage in the eyes of a search engine.
Looking ahead, what can we do to ensure consistent online visibility?
Industry experts all have varied opinions on what the future holds for search but there are two themes that continue to crop up time and time again; user-focused experience and mobile search.
It’s All About the (Mobile) Users
Repeat after me: the user is always right.
Your site exists to serve real, actual people. So, don’t go chasing after a machine algorithm - not only will you end up most likely with a devastating penalty - your efforts will almost definitely negatively impact your online service too.
We can take this cue from the biggest Google updates since 2015: namely, mobile responsiveness, the introduction of penalties for intrusive interstitial ads and even Google’s plans to introduce a mobile-first index.
Why is all of this happening now? It’s simple - mobile has surpassed desktop usage.
Mobile presents a range of different challenges to desktop - for instance, browsing dwell time is likely to be lesser - users don’t want to scroll forever to find the right information, nor do they want to dig deep into the site. If users bounce straight off your site, or worse yet, don’t click through due to a poor user experience first time round, you can beat your organic search will suffer - click through rate from the search engine result pages is a ranking factor after all.
Think technical SEO and optimisation doesn’t matter or is a lesser ranking factor? Recent research conducted by Google shows that a massive 53% of people leave a site that fails to load in 3 seconds or less. How do you think this will affect your click through rate in the long term?
Here, we can see how the core principles of SEO still are relevant in 2017: we need technical SEO to ensure your site is well maintained and keeps up to date with new technological requirements. We need great content to ensure your users stick around once they’ve arrived - and come back for more at a later date.
Getting the Foundations Right
There are, of course, other elements to the SEO puzzle that help to ensure success - for instance, increasing Domain Authority through growing and refining your backlink profile.
But, if your site is missing the solid foundations of a user-centric and mobile-optimised experience, all SEO activities will be hampered: your results may be underwhelming or even hard to see.
The thing is, SEO is not an overnight solution and will probably never be! The market is a competitive place - and one-off optimisations aren’t going to achieve the success you seek. It has to be an on-going process - and making refinements every month is just the beginning.
How to predict the future of SEO? Just ask your users what they want. Get in touch with us today!