Search engine optimization (SEO) is a tool businesses use to stay ahead of the competition. In its simplest form, it helps a site’s content rise in search rankings. As with most things, SEO is far more complicated than that. The information and customer behaviors that inform optimization efforts change constantly. Algorithms and AI structures evolve so they can process more complicated information. You must tailor your SEO efforts with these trends in mind. As this year comes to a close, here are six SEO trends you need to know for 2017.
1. User Intent
Simple keywords are not enough anymore. When users type into a search engine, they know exactly what they want. Search engines are learning how to process full questions and phrases, giving customers more specific results. Brands must create content that addresses intent rather than keywords alone. Investigate what searches bring customers to your page.
Many searches fall under three intents: transaction, navigation, and information.
Transaction searches include purchasing something, looking for a business, or signing up for a free newsletter.
Navigation searches take place when customers need a specific site but might not know the exact URL.
Information searches are the most broad, but most do not involve a transaction. The information is what is important.
See what category of search target your site falls under. Once you know, adjust your content to match the user intent. The user intent can differ over time, so make sure to keep an eye out for any changes.
2. Content Density
Users and search engines alike are tired of reading the same content on hundreds of different websites. However, detailed, lengthy content is not necessarily the answer. Most users do not want to read novel-length content.
What is the solution then? Content Density
Content Density is the happy medium between quick snippets and long-form content. It refers to the content’s value per word. When crafting content, make sure every sentence has value. Cut out filler when you can. Function is more important than word count when it comes to user satisfaction.
3. Cross-Channel Marketing
Multi-channel means a business has a presence on multiple platforms like mobile apps, a website, etc. Cross-Channel means you are integrating all platforms for a seamless marketing experience. Customers use combinations of various platforms when they shop. Someone looking to buy shoes may check online to see what is available, may purchase the shoes with an app, and then pick them up in store. From there, your brand might send targeted ads to the customer’s email.
You should not treat multiple platforms as distinct. They are different parts of the larger mechanism that is your business. Find ways to make transitioning between platforms easier for customers. You must use all platforms and devices for success.
Of course, more platforms mean more marketing options. Make sure that you use the right message with the right timing and platform. Unnecessary app notifications can hurt your chances of making a sale just as much as they can help.
4. Mobile friendly SEO
The increasing distribution of smartphones means more people are using search engines on their mobile devices. SEO demands that sites are easy to access. Make sure your site is mobile friendly. Your site should load on mobile just as quickly as it does on desktop. Your site should also retain its format on mobile. You want your site to be consistent on all platforms.
5. Personal Branding
When a customer buys from a brand, they are interested in more than the product itself. They want to know who is behind the product and why they should choose your brand over another option.
Make your brand personal – Build your brand around you.
Customers connect with content that engages them on a personal level. They want to know the face behind the logo. An online presence is helpful in this way. Social media profiles, blogs, and websites are places for you to show users who you are and what your brand means.
6. User Experience
User expectations for websites have drastically shifted over the past two decades. Today, users demand instantaneous load times and easily navigated websites. The slightest hiccup could turn away potential customers.
Search engines notice when people leave sites quickly or return to the search results. That data is used when ranking sites in results.
Search engines notice when people leave sites quickly or return to the search results. That data is used when ranking sites in results. Sites with higher traffic and longer stays are seen as more favorable by search engines. A high search ranking means investing in your site’s speed and navigation. This could require a few adjustments, or it could mean a complete restructuring.
It is hard to plan for the future, especially with technology. That said, these six trends will affect SEO in the upcoming year to some degree. Keep these suggestions in the back of your mind as your move forward. Be ready to anticipate the changes these trends might bring to your business. Is your site optimized for the New Year?
Sharon Shichor is the CEO of Eighteen Knowledge Group LLC, your solution and knowledge base for brand building and getting your products in the hands of consumers. With over 15 years of wholesale-retail experience, she speaks the language of Walmart fluently.