When it comes to SEO, you can never be as prepared as you should be. Google is constantly throwing out curve balls that affect ranking and they aren’t in the habit of announcing all of them. Some we’re aware of while answers to others will become apparent only as time goes by. Google’s end responsibility is towards their users – the company definitely won’t be making it easy for us to sit on page 1 without having us work for it.
With that in mind, it’s time to prepare for the upcoming year. This past year we’ve seen numerous changes happen to the Google algorithm. Those changes have affected how we do SEO, how we do paid advertising, and how and why we create content.
It’s time to check out the SEO trends we can expect in 2017. Word of caution – while these trend predictions are based on historical observation and experience, they might not all come to pass, or they might but Google might decide to throw something else at us. We can never know so it’s important to constantly measure things and stay in the loop.
Importance of Dense Content
At one point, Google got fed up with short snippets of text posing as posts and articles. They were short, uninformative, and served only one purpose – to clutter the Internet. So, with a few tweaks to the algorithm, Google made sure that these extremely short pieces of content would have a tough time ranking. They still have their place on the Web but they will be buried deep below long texts that cover topics in more detail.
However, this created another problem. Crafty content makers and SEOer started creating long, drawn out guides and articles that are well over 2,000 words. While in some cases this is necessary to cover the topic, most of the time it’s done because there’s an understanding that this type of content will rank better.
Why? Or better yet, who has the time for all that?
In 2017 you’re going to have to focus on creating dense content – content that brings value with every word that’s on the page. No frills, no fluff and filler, just pure value. People have less and less time to read but they will still want detailed guides that aren’t borderline books. It’s going to be a challenge but a one that you’re going to have to tackle head on.
Every word on the page has to be a building block that leads the reader to an answer they are looking.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
Google is intent on bettering user experience at all cost. Their Accelerated Mobile Pages initiative is all about building a new standard of content creation that uses light versions of HTML and CSS. Because AMP pages are delivered from Google’s own hosted cached versions and thanks to their lightness, they load much faster.
Speed matters, folks!
Slow loading pages see a lot higher bounce rate and around half of your visitors will simply jump the ship if the page loads more than 3 seconds. This is particularly true for mobile users. In addition to ranking better, AMP content also performs better in terms of CTRs.
AMP is easily implemented on WordPress sites. Simply install the plugin that you can find here and all your posts will get dynamically generated AMP versions. Validate those versions in Google Search Console and do some fine tuning if needed. For more information about AMP and how to implement and manage it, check this link.
Get Acquainted With Schema
If you want search engines to understand the context of your pages, you’re going to have to use Schema markup. If the information on your site is difficult to understand (for a machine) you can’t really hope that your posts and texts are going to get featured.
Schema helps ensure that your content is displayed correctly. The data that you provide is then understandable and more appealing so it has more potential to appear as a Rich Card or even a Quick Answer.
Hunt for Quick Answers
Quick Answers, a box that appears as a first result when someone types in a question in the search engine, are a great way to increase your visibility. Google has been ramping them up considerably in the past year. What’s more, it seems that Google displays Quick Answers more when it’s dealing with voice search so you need to take into account how people are asking questions.
How to Land a Quick Answer Box
- Find long-tail keywords – no one asks questions by blurting out a jumbled mess of keywords to their phone. Find long-tail phrases in your niche that have sufficient search volume to justify creating an article.
- Answer those questions – create a detailed piece of content to answer the question – remember, detailed and dense, no longwinded. Keep in mind that structure is very important here so make sure that it’s a list.
- Make your answer helpful and unique – also, consider adding more relevant information by providing users with links they can use to investigate the subject matter more deeply.
- Make your content accessible – make sure your content is indexed properly and that you’re using Schema markup so search engines know what you’re talking about.
When Google is reading out your question and providing the user with an answer, they will start with ‘According to…’ and mention the name of your website. This is a great opportunity to make sure that your brand gets as much exposure as possible and to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry.
With mobile indexing changes that are happening already, it’s a safe bet that 2017 will be a big year for SEO. Knowing what to expect will help you prepare and deal with it the right way. What other trends are you expecting to see and why? Make sure to share your comments and thoughts with me!