Search engines are the starting point for 93% of online experiences, so if your business hopes to capture leads online, there is no room for complacency. Search Engine Optimization is not just some technical work an SEO Consultant does on your website. Modern SEO is so much more — blogging, press releases, videos, social media, documents, bookmarking sites, blog commenting, images. You can read more about these strategies in our Off-Page SEO Checklist from two years ago. While much of what we said back then is still relevant, there are new areas of focus for 2017.
1. Social Media and SEO go hand-in-hand.
The head honchos over at Google like to downplay the impact of social media on search results, but anyone working in this industry knows better! The Google search bots may not crawl social media pages in the same way they crawl regular webpages, but we find that the more engaged social media pages, thriving with shares and engagement, tend to do better. The more shares you get, the more people you have enjoying your articles. People stay on your site longer — and time on site IS a known factor for SEO.
For 2017, we recommend maintaining a strong presence on multiple social channels by creating and sharing quality blog content regularly. You can use a tool like Sprout Social to advance schedule your posts. We post links to relevant news stories also, making sure to share our own homegrown content at least once per week.
Most of us are running multi-channel marketing strategies. It’s much easier to focus on a promotion run solely through Facebook, but these days, marketers are running the same campaign across email, PPC, social media and mobile. They’re pulling in crazy amounts of data, but they are working hard to provide the same customer experience, whether a person is browsing on mobile or PC, looking up information on their website or their Twitter page. Savvy marketers should be A/B testing their campaigns for efficiency and making informed decisions based on campaign analytics.
2. The time for speed optimization of mobile sites is NOW.
You may know your mobile site is a little sluggish, but it hasn’t been a top priority. Google first introduced the AMP project at the end of 2015, which has shifted more attention to speed — particularly on mobile devices. Kissmetrics research found that even a one second delay in loading time results in a 7% reduction in conversions.
Google claims that the Accelerated Mobile Pages project can help you improve loading speeds by 15 to 85%. There are plenty of resources to help you get started or you can work with digital marketing consultants to help your mobile site meet the standards.
3. Mobile app development pays off.
Historically, mobile-friendly sites and mobile apps have been very valuable tools, but they are not mutually exclusive. They serve different purposes. Mobile sites are aimed at bringing in fresh prospects, whereas mobile apps are about retention and rewarding patrons with a steady stream of content to maintain loyalty.
The lines are blurring, though. More people are finding out about businesses through app searches. CEO of mobile app creator Shoutem, Viktor Marohnic, says small businesses are seeing 70% of their total traffic coming from mobile — up from just 10% three years ago. Apple is actively working on ways to make apps more “discoverable”within their interface with plans to roll out Search Ads and expand Subscription services in the coming year. With Google’s App Streaming service, people can now see relevant content from apps without downloading anything.
The latest numbers suggest individuals spend about 65% of their time consuming media via smartphones and 85% of their time on smartphones within apps these days. So, not surprisingly, a recent survey by Clutch found that nearly 50% of small businesses plan to have a mobile app by 2017.
Savvy businesses will be using apps as yet another avenue for promoting high-quality, SEO-driven content to the masses.
“We are starting to notice apps in SERPs; however, I am honestly astonished about the lack of SEO work produced on the apps for big companies at the moment,” says Tom Bourlet, a travel blogger with SpaghettiTraveller . He adds: “Tricks such as deep linking are really not being utilized to their full potential; however, this should change during 2017.”
4. Companies seek to clarify where SaaS ends and manpower begins.
Software as a Service platforms let marketers centralize SEO data from various sources with ease.
SaaS also helps you perform other essential SEO tasks such as:
- Updating business listings
- Publishing social content
- Distributing citations to hundreds of directories
- Compiling reviews from multiple sources
- Localizing pricing and other information
“At the end of the day, SaaS helps automate aspects of your local SEO campaign, but automation can only take you so far,” Search Engine Land explains. “Simply checking a box by deploying SaaS tools is no longer going to pass as having a strong SEO strategy,” they add.
You still need an actual human being responsible for SEO elements that impact ranking like:
- Combing through reports and assessing ROI
- Analyzing paid search performance
- Improving site structure
- Content discovery
5. Audits make their way into SEO strategy on a regular basis.
Our clients are always shocked by how insightful an SEO audit can be. We require very little information to get started and they are provided with a treasure trove of actionable information and insights. According to Search Engine Journal’s 2016 State of Marketing Report, 77 percent of marketers believe businesses should perform full SEO audits every six months. However, more than half of businesses admitted they do not do this. We find the best performing companies perform audits at least every six months, if not quarterly. We look at what’s working and what’s not to shift focus. Why throw good money after bad?
The Bottom Line on SEO in 2017:
Investing in SEO ensures that you are getting your brand before as many eyes as possible. From there, the leads are yours to convert — or to lose — through User Experience, Content, and Marketing Automation. Allotting a bit of strategic SEO consulting into your budget can help you get off to a faster with a dynamic start in the first three months of 2017.
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