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Saturday, 07 January 2017 11:55

3 things to know about SEO in 2017

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In today’s tech-driven society, having a robust web presence for your business is critical. Whether your website is e-commerce enabled or not, current and prospective customers must be able to find you online. Specifically, they must be able to find you on the behemoth of all search engines, where their buying journey is most likely to begin.

According to a 2016 Internet Summit presentation from Matthew Capala, founder of SEO and content marketing agency Alphametic, 80% of consumers search online before making a purchase and 89% of buyers begin their decision making journey on Google. And thus, he said, “Invisibility is worse than failure.”

So how can you ensure your business stays visible in the rapidly evolving world of search engine optimization? Here are a few essential developments you need to know to optimize your website in 2017:

Mobile-first indexing

Traditionally, Google has used the desktop version of a website to analyze the site’s relevance and determine its ranking in search results. In November, Google announced that since most of its users now search on a mobile device, its algorithms are in the early stages of mobile-first indexing – using a website’s mobile version as the primary measurement in ranking pages from that site.

If you have a responsive website, which means you have one website but its appearance adapts to fit the user’s screen size across devices, then Google says no changes are necessary. But if you have a separate mobile site with different content and markup – or no mobile site at all – then it’s time to re-evaluate. Make sure that the best and most relevant content for your customers is available in a mobile format. If you’re not sure whether your site is mobile-ready, use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to analyze it.

There are myriad agencies you can consult to evaluate your SEO and help you strategize, but one method worth exploring is an open-source project called Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is a form of HTML designed to make mobile web pages load faster – and speed will be even more important in the mobile-first index. Visit ampproject.org to learn more.

Semantic search

The new age of search isn’t just about keywords; it’s about context. It’s not about what your customers are searching for, but why they’re searching for it. That’s where semantic search comes in.

The idea is that if a search engine can “understand” a user’s personal needs by examining factors such as location, previous searches and related concepts, it will deliver results that are more relevant, accurate and personalized.

Rankbrain, a machine-learning artificial intelligence component of Google’s algorithm, is rooted in this method. According to Search Engine Land, it helps Google evaluate the intent and meaning behind searches and may return results that don’t match the exact keywords if it determines the content is related to the query. It learns to make these connections on its own, without a human pulling the strings behind the scenes.

And Google execs say Rankbrain is already one of its top three signals for ranking search results, in addition to content and links.

So understanding your customers’ needs and intent is perhaps more important than ever if you want to reach them online.

Map out your “customer personas,” or profiles of your ideal customers and their needs at various points in the buyer journey. Who are they? Where do they live and work? What is their personal life like? What are their greatest challenges in their business? What might they search for online, and why? Craft content on your website that has value and targets their specific questions. And get to the point quickly and concisely in the titles and first paragraphs of your pages to help Google recognize the meaning of your content more effectively.

Voice search

Between Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa, voice search is growing in popularity. More and more users are asking these devices full, conversational questions to find information in lieu of typing keywords into a search bar. Much like semantic search, this indicates a rise in more complex queries, and consequently a more involved process for generating and ranking results.

 

According to a video presentation by Rand Fishkin, co-founder of SEO resource Moz, voice search presents a “new and different kind of keyword demand and also a new and different kind of result set that returns because of that.”

Fishkin hypothesizes that voice search won’t have a major impact on SEO fundamentals yet, but said there are some strategies content creators can implement to boost visibility. Voice search will either give you a direct response to your query instantly if the answer is fairly simple, or return a set of results on your device.

Because you want to drive traffic to your website, Fishkin suggests focusing your energy on optimizing your content for those returned results. Refer to the same principles of semantic search about targeting relevant information toward your specific customer personas. Prioritize optimizing more in-depth content such as tutorials or analyses that are too elaborate for an instant vocal answer.

SEO is a complex process that is constantly evolving, but a solid strategy is imperative to maintaining your business’ online visibility. Consult experts like Moz, Search Engine Land, Hubspot and Google’s own blogs regularly to stay informed and stay competitive.

Author : Alexa Boschini

Source : http://www.homeaccentstoday.com/blogpost/14746-3-things-know-about-seo-2017

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