I truly hope you’re taking this downtime to Plan and Prepare for 2017. In order to provide you with some guidance (and save you time), I’ve sifted through dozens of “2017 predictions”, “2017 trends”, “2017 must do” blog posts and articles for you. I’m dividing them into 4 posts: SEO, Social Media, Content Marketing and Marketing Strategy.
Most of these experts are no longer using the word “trends”. What’s trending implies that it’s hot for a short time and then it goes away. (That’s what they said about Facebook and you can’t say a site that gets close to 2 BILLION active monthly users is a “trend”.) These are MANDATORY if you want to be found online. Ignore these at your peril.
Look for “What You Need to Do” under each “truth” to help you plan and prepare for 2017.
Let’s start with SEO:
1. Google will keep changing their algorithm
“Google is trying to make its algorithm a mirror image of the heart, mind, soul and needs of the customer.” ~ Seth Besmertnik in Search Engine Journal.
It’s Customer-First marketing NOT keyword-first marketing. It’s all about the Customer Experience (or CX). Which brings me back to YOU MUST clearly identify and understand your Target Market. (Download the Free Workbook). Users want to solve problems. Once you’ve identified your perfect customers’ pain points, then you can give them the content that will help alleviate them. Yes, you still have to do keyword research, but more important is target market research.
What You Need to Do: Use this free workbook to create buyer personas – for both B2C and B2B businesses.
Mobile will dominate desktop when it comes to searches. Google has over 80% of all mobile searches. The first Mobilegeddon happened in April, 2014. Now, the next one will be January 10, 2017. ANY website with a popup ad on their mobile version of their website, WILL BE BLOCKED! I wrote about it in this post.
Because of Google’s “mobile-first” stance, mobile sites have to have the SAME CONTENT as the desktop site. In other words, if you have a mini-version of your site that comes up when someone is on a tablet or smartphone, with minimal content, it will lose “authority” in mobile search results. Not good.
What You Need to Do: Visit your website on a mobile device.
Is there a popup? Do you have the same content that’s on the main desktop site? If not, contact your webmaster and make sure that…
- Popups are removed
- Your contact information is easily found
- It’s not just mobile-friendly or mobile-responsive, but it’s your full site content that comes up
3. Local Personalized Content – “near me”
If you’re a LOCAL BRICK-AND-MORTAR business, this is important. (If you are a local consultant without an office where you want clients to go to, then skip down to #4.) People will search for things like, “gluten free bakery near me”. If your business is not in GOOGLE MY BUSINESS with your actual brick-and-mortar location, you won’t come up. However, that doesn’t mean you have to add the words “near me” in your content. No. Google bases the search results on the user’s GPS and your listing in Google My Business.
What you need to do: Go to Google My Business and make sure your listing is accurate.
4. Voice Search – “OK, Google”
This is something to consider when doing the copy (static content) on your website. People don’t talk like they write. Whether they’re using their smartphone, Amazon’s Alexa, Siri, Google Home or other voice command system, they’ll ask a question. It’s up to you to have the answer to the questions your target market is asking!
What You Need to Do: A website audit.
- Go through your site and read the content in your main pages. Is it compelling enough to attract a visitor and KEEP THEIR ATTENTION? Does it answer their questions?
- Look at your meta tag descriptions – Is the question you are answering there?
- Go through your blog posts – are they all optimized? Do they have have the relevant keyword tags? Are they indexed in the right category? (And that’s not “uncategorized”.) Are the titles worded in the form of a question?
The best way to figure out what your target market is asking is to get to know them.
5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) & RankBrain
Yep. Now machines are trying to do your thinking for you. Well, think about it. Sometimes when you’re looking for something, you’re not sure what to ask. You may enter several search terms in the box before you get the answer you want. Google’s new AI, RankBrain, will come up with “people also ask” with other similar questions that you may be asking yourself. All in attempts to provide you with the best answer to your question. It’s machine learning as it applies to search. The AI has the ability to learn and categorize information to accurately match a searcher’s query.
RankBrain, an artificial intelligence algorithm, modifies the weighting of other algorithms over time to place more importance on some than others. It also plucks out the important keywords from questions or longer searches to be able to ‘understand’ questions and answer them as accurately as possible. ~ SEMRush
Now you must be asking, “How do I get my answers as the ‘featured snippet’. Here’s Google’s answer to that question:
When we recognize that a query asks a question, we programmatically detect pages that answer the user’s question, and display a top result as a featured snippet in the search results.
What You Need to Do: Identify the user’s intent.
What does the searcher expect to find when querying your keywords? Answers to their questions and problems. What are they asking? Use Q&A sites like Mosaic Hub and Quora to see what people are asking in your field of expertise.
6. Attract the RIGHT traffic, not just ANY traffic
What good is a visitor if they’re NOT your target market? You should have Google Analytics installed on your website. Check it every month. This will give you the “bounce rate“. That’s a measurement of how long a visitor stays on your site. The right visitor will read the blog post then look for related content based on categories, recent posts and keyword tags. If someone lands on one of your web pages and sees that it’s not what they’re looking for, they’ll leave right away. The more times that happens, the higher your bounce rate will be. You want your bounce rate around 50%.
Plus, you want conversions. You want that perfect potential customer to land on your page, see what they need and grab it. You need the right calls-to-action in the right places to capture the right traffic and convert the right visitor in to a nice, warm lead. In your strategic plan, you want to think “Conversion Rate Optimization”.
A way to avoid a high bounce rate is to write for your target market with the search engine in mind. That’s in both your site’s main pages and your blog posts.
What You Need to Do: Really Understand Your Target Market
7. You can start RANKING in a few weeks
This used to take months! If you’re not on page 1 of Google search, do this:
- Publish relevant content — answering the questions that your target market is asking — in 3 blog posts a week
- Make sure you’re incorporate all of the tips listed on this page!
- Become active in social media,
And you can start ranking in weeks not months!
What You Need to Do: Blog 3 times a week and engage in social media.
8. Create Long-Form Content
I know many of you aren’t going to like this one. I know you struggle with coming up with 1, 300-500-word article a week never mind longer ones and more often!
What is long-form content? Well, this article is – sort of. At this point I’m at just over 1200 words*. The experts are recommending 2,000 to 4,000-word articles!
However, not just wordy articles. Offer information of INCREDIBLE VALUE. To whom? To your target market, of course! Yes, we’re back to that.
Remember, Google loves fresh content. Lots of it. Longer articles will stand out.
What You Need to Do: Write, write and write some more.
All this writing will have an impact. You will rank for authority in your field. This is more than having your really nice LinkedIn profile coming up first when someone Googles your name. I love it when I ask someone, “How did you find me?” And they respond, “I Googled _________ and you came up.”
What You Need to Do: Show off your expertise and knowledge.
10. Don’t just Rely on SEO
In 2017, solely expecting SEO or search engine traffic to be the only marketing you do is recipe for failure. You can have the most optimized website, but if you’re not creating the fresh, relevant content that Google wants, AND you’re not participating in Social Media, you’re not going to get the results you need. Nothing is going to happen.
What You Need to Do: Diversify your marketing efforts by adding content marketing and social media.
11. Bonus! What still holds True
Besides the above 10 “truths”, the following aspects still apply for improved SEO:
- Using images and video
- Site speed – it has to load fast
- No Flash
- User-friendly link structure – easy to navigate
- Links to your social media profiles
- Sharing your pages and posts in your social media.
Do you have any questions? Please comment below and I may use it in a Q&A video or future blog post.