SEO – one of the most frustrating parts of digital marketing. It is constantly evolving. One minute you think you’ve got it all figured out, and the next, Google goes and switches up the algorithms to Unicorn 4.0*.
*I made that up btw, but you feel me
The days of keyword stuffing and buying all the back links you can are long gone, and in it’s place… say hello to high-quality, engaging and innovative content. SEO is a never ending conversation, but as we don’t want to take too much of your time, here we have identified five big trends affecting SEO in 2017.
Search intent is a thing
We’re all familiar with keyword planning, but it is no longer the only factor. It’s not just about a person searching for ‘digital marketing’ and hoping to find a relevant digital marketing agency. As an SEO strategist you need to look passed this, move further along the customer journey, and try to figure out their intent behind the search. Why is that person looking for ‘digital marketing’? What is their end goal? What do they hope to achieve from that search? If you can answer these questions, you’re on the right track to creating content that is more relevant.
Be aware of voice search
Voice search is on the rise. Heck, even my grandparents have Alexa in their house! With Amazon’s Alexa, the recently introduced Google Home, and the likes of Siri and Cortana, it is so important to pre-empt the change and be ready to create content that is voice friendly.
Instant answers and position zero
If anyone could find a position higher than first, it would be Google. That’s right, another huge trend emerging is the rise of ‘instant answers’ and ‘position zero’. As illustrated below, it’s the box that appears above the search listings, where Google is trying to ease a user’s search experience and answer a question instantly. The downside to this: Google could stop you from getting certain traffic by answering a question without an additional click needing to be made. The upside: if there is no instant answer to a specific search term, you could aim to get into position zero with your own answer, and above all of your competitors. This post here explains that process pretty well.
Natural high-quality links
Once upon a time, people would use black hat SEO techniques such as link farms. This means that they would seek links from all over the web, from unrelated websites with bad or little content. The focus now is very much on quality over quantity – with fewer, high quality site links being favoured. Of course, the next step up from those high quality site links, is natural high quality links. It’s a fair marketing game plan to reach out and marry PR efforts with SEO in order to gain visibility and drive traffic to your site, however Google is paying more attention now to links where someone has naturally shared with no brand affinity or direct marketing effort. It’s not easy of course, but it feeds into their belief that successful SEO strategies come from engaging, innovative and valuable content. The idea being, if it’s an amazing piece of content, people and influencers will share without being prompted to.
Off page SEO
This is really an extension of the point we’ve just made, but off page SEO accounts for a huge portion of your efforts. Essentially it’s what you hope to happen once you have created engaging content worth sharing. In short, off page SEO is all the places on the internet that have shared your piece and linked back to your site. The Google translation of that: ‘A lot of people are linking to your site, so it must be awesome, and we must link to you too.’ Companies spend so much time on on-page SEO that it is easy to forget what happens everywhere else, so be sure to keep off page SEO in mind as it may account for 70% of your SEO efforts online.