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A new year means new SEO speculation and trends. While there are some components of search engine optimization that have worked for several years and will continue to work, there will always be new trends that you need to shift your focus to.
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked via direct message on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is, “What’s new in terms of SEO?” It’s a constantly changing landscape that never sits idle long. Here are eight trends to be aware of as we start 2017.
1. HTTPS is no longer just an option.
HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) keeps data exchanged between your user’s computer and your website secure. Consumers are much more internet savvy than they were a few years ago, and now expect nothing less than a secure experience when visiting a website. The cost to switch to HTTPS is minimal and aside from the security benefits, Google has confirmed it’s a ranking signal. This guide explains the process very well.
2. Long-form content will continue to perform well in the search results.
Long-form content, which I consider to be more than 2,000 words, has been shown to perform better in the search results. It’s something that many marketers adopted a couple years ago and it’s still the “sweet-spot” for those looking to rank organically and provide the value needed to convert website visitors into leads, sales and revenue.
3. Social media will be an even larger referral traffic goldmine.
Think about how much activity and engagement occurs on social media daily. Products and services are being discovered on social media, consumers are turning to social media when they need customer support and brands are active on multiple platforms daily — it’s a major source of quality referral traffic.
4. Home-based voice search will increase.
Google Home and Echo by Amazon allow consumers to search for anything they want without lifting a finger — literally. You can get the answers to almost anything, and these services will continue to evolve and add new features. You can already request an Uber and order pizza from Domino’s. I have a feeling we are going to see this technology grow rapidly this year, giving local businesses a new way to be found.
5. Google will show more love to Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
It’s no secret that Google is a fan of AMP. Webpages load instantly, therefore providing a much better user experience. Here’s an explanation directly from the AMP open source website: “AMP is a way to build web pages for static content that render fast. AMP in action consists of three different parts: AMP HTML is HTML with some restrictions for reliable performance and some extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML. The AMP JS library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages. The Google AMP Cache can be used to serve cached AMP HTML pages.”
6. UX (user experience) will continue to provide trickle down benefits.
There are several benefits of providing a pleasant user experience that have a direct impact on your SEO. Visitors stay on your website longer and engage with more of your content, which reduces your bounce rate. This also increases the average time on site and odds of a conversion occurring, or at the very least a social share or follow.
7. Mobile-first strategies have become a necessity.
With so much traffic coming from mobile devices, it really causes you to think about the mobile user first when designing page layouts and offers. The good thing is that there is no question — mobile traffic percentages continue to grow. There will always be businesses that just don’t see a large percentage of mobile traffic. Take this chemical storage building web page for example — the majority of their traffic is going to come from a desktop user in an office setting. They have a mobile friendly contact option, which is good, but a full-on redesign isn’t as crucial as it would be for a consumer e-commerce website.
8. Links will continue to be a by-product of excellent content.
Links aren’t going anywhere — they are still a key ranking signal. Rather than stress about how to secure them, create content that is so good that people share it and link to it without you having to ask. Infographics and detailed case studies and reports will tend to perform better than standard blog posts. There are infographics my agency did years ago for brands that continue to acquire them links every week naturally.