It’s already a new year, which means that if you aren’t refreshing your online properties year-round, now is the time for an update. Your customers are using new technology to access information on the Internet and their expectations for how they can interact with your company have evolved. Accordingly, Google is implementing new algorithms to accommodate the needs of consumers in 2017.
Here are some of the 2017 digital and SEO trends you need to know about:
1. Voice and Semantic Search – What You Need to Know
Voice and semantic search are on the rise. A survey conducted by MindMeld over a year ago determined that 60 percent of the 1,800 smartphone users surveyed actively used voice search.
Voice was poised for rapid growth in 2016 and is doubling down in 2017. Voice search can affect interactions with your site, as a user will voice search differently than how they may type something into a search engine. For content, ensure that each page is answering the questions that a voice search user is likely to ask.
“It’s still ‘early days’ for voice-based computing. We think about it from a long-term perspective. So I see more opportunity than challenge when I think about voice search.”Google CEO Sundar Pichai, during a Quarterly Earnings Call
With semantic searches, Google uses common phrases and an artificial intelligence software (watch out, Skynet!) to properly categorize keywords and phrases.
For example, if you’re an online business selling jellys and jams, you want people landing on your website who are looking to buy a fruit “jam,” not musicians who are looking to “jam.” Google wants the same thing. Google tracks the behaviors of users by using bounce rates to determine which phrases related to “jam” fit best with your site and then tries to show your website for people looking for “jam,” as in the fruity condiment.
To help Google with search requests, it’s best to include keywords in your content that will paint the most accurate picture possible of what your website or business does.
2. SERP and Mobile – What’s New in 2017?
Between smartphones and tablets, mobile search volume has overtaken desktop and laptop searches. To be user-friendly and truly reach every prospective customer in your market, your site needs to be mobile-friendly. Before, you simply wanted to ensure that your website met mobile-friendly “standards” to rank higher in the search engine results page (SERP). However, now that most of your visitors will be searching from a mobile device, you want to ensure that they have the most complete and user-friendly experience when visiting your site.
The majority of internet usage will be done via a mobile device and for most people the mobile web will be their primary, if not their only, way of experiencing the internet. Peter Rojas, Gizmodo
A good first step to create a mobile-first experience is to limit the amount of information and design elements that appear on your pages on mobile – people want to find the precise information they’re looking for on mobile and don’t have a high tolerance for unnecessary info and graphics. It’s time to cut out the fluff. Thankfully many WordPress themes come with an ability to “hide” sections of your website on mobile devices so you can tailor your website experience to people with more screen “real estate” on their laptop, and scale back to only the key sections for people on mobile devices.
Additionally, and this is important, Google algorithms for 2017 are going to be incorporating a mobile-first rule. This means that sites that are mobile-ready will automatically rank higher than sites that are not mobile-ready, regardless of search history or content. Therefore, if you have not already adapted after “Mobilegeddon,” now is the time to get your mobile website right.
3. Omni-Channel – Why It’s Important
Omni-channel marketing takes the concept of branding to a whole new level. From the surface, this simply means giving your current and prospective audience a completely seamless experience. The branding on your desktop site is the same as the branding on your mobile site, which is also the same as your packaging, as well as brick and mortar locations. If your website branding is dark purple with yellow flowers, then your audience should be drenched with that theme throughout their experience with your business.
The deeper meaning to omni-channel marketing is ultimately investing in your brand for years to come. Omni-channel marketing nurtures brand loyalty by creating a seamless experience for your customers wherever they interact with your company.
“Stop thinking of your customers in terms of “X” number of leads down the funnel. Treat them as real people and focus on personalizing each of their interactions and experiences with your brand.”Daniel Newman, President of Broadsuite
Branding is only one piece of the omni-channel puzzle. Omni-channel requires you to assess and improve how your business operates online: when and how you show up in Google, what social media profiles you maintain, how people can interact with you via your website, and your online customer service standards should all be part of your omni-channel strategy.
Omni-channel is also important in your overall messaging; are you targeting moms in your brick and mortar and millennials on your website?
4. Mixture of Content Mediums
With the new Google algorithms rolling out, it’s important to understand why they change so frequently. It’s not that they want to make your lives more difficult. Instead, they are tracking the trends of users and “rewarding” the websites that are compliant with the trends by ranking them higher. One thing that Google has noticed is that users tend to remain on a website and spend time interacting with it if the website offers a mixture of engaging content.
If you search “how to make homemade ketchup” and arrive on a page that’s only text, you are likely to leave the page and look for other results. Preferably, you will want to find a result that has images showing the process or even videos that walk you through each step. Ultimately, you’re more engaged with a page that has videos and images in addition to the text. Therefore, be sure that your content is engaging in 2017 since this will be important (read “important” as: tracked by Google)!
5. Improved AMP and Site Speed – Necessary?
Yes! If you’re not currently aware, AMP is the acronym for Accelerated Mobile Pages. In 2017, Google will begin ranking sites based on how quickly they load in comparison to their competitors, in addition to search history and other algorithmic components.
“We’re seeing lots of great momentum with AMP from the publisher and technology worlds. Let’s make the web faster.”Google’s Dave Besbris
It’s important to note that not only is loading speed important, but also general site speed, which is how quickly your site responds during navigation. Make certain that your site is not clunky to navigate. Not only will Google penalize your site if it is, this prevents you from providing your users with the best online experience possible (think omni-channel!)
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