As long as search engines remain the platform people turn to when searching for goods and services, SEO will continue to be a business necessity and not a luxury. With more than 97 percent of Americans turning to search engines (psst 92 percent use Google) if your business doesn’t have a digital marketing agency with the SEO chops to take on 2017, you stand to miss out on reaching an astronomical consumer base.
Turn and Face the Strange, SEO Cha-Cha-Changes
David Bowie may not have been thinking about the evolution of online visibility when he wrote this line, but SEO has mutated into something that is indeed strange–mainly a food source for know-it-all, pedantic, emotive cyborgs. Sure, this sounds like something straight from Ziggy Stardust, but in fact Google’s shifts and updates to their algorithms is responsible for making consumer life easier, and its evolution makes sense.
You see, back in 2013 Google Hummingbird rolled out and demanded that SEO-friendly content be educational, informative, unique, and boast a hefty word-count. The rise in mobile searches was leading up to this point and finally Google searches on smartphones surpassed desktop. With personal assistant technology and advancements in voice search capabilities, Internet users were using more natural language to buy travel tickets and look for the nearest dentist. In 2016 Google, always keeping pace with the times, improved user experience by taking the Hummingbird algorithm and introducing RankBrain right into its core–a cyborg hybrid of artificial intelligence and machine learning designed to recognize user intent with capabilities to provide the best answers to more natural, long-tail search queries. So what does this mean for your online business visibility in 2017? It means you need to be sauced up in SEO richness ready to face and conquer all SEO challenges to come from Google’s user experience reformation.
Local SEO – Be There, But Also Be Square
If your business has a physical front, you will want to stand out in community searches. Like a perfect square, local SEO has four sides:
- Link-Building & Citations
- SERP CTR
- Review Signal Optimization
Where is the nearest rental car location to me? If you are an executive for one of the big national rental car companies, local SEO matters, and this is how the majority search for your service. To capture the most traffic your SEO strategy needs to make some changes to better accommodate local searchers. This means you are visible in reputable directories with accurate information with links pointed to your local landing page. Gone are the days where you pay some mega registry to list your business in hundreds of directories; Google regards this as spam. Make sure the directories you link to are relevant to your industry. In other words, a home builder could link to Angie’s List, but now a franchise gym company. These efforts will also help you appear in Local Pack, which is paramount for local SEO success.
Many forget that local SEO also includes your click through rate (CTR). You should regard your appearance in the SERPs as your digital storefront: it has to clearly showcase what you offer, and give a compelling reason for customers to click on your site as opposed to others. Lots of clicks lead to rank power. Some considerations for creating an irresistible presentation in your title and description include:
- Adding your company name and phone number
- Injecting personality or your brand’s core values
- Present a common pain your clients have while offering something that resonates as a need capable of ameliorating that hurt
- Present benefits
- Create a sense of urgency
- Include a CTA
- Display a review
Although your characters are limited, a well-thought strategic plan can successfully incorporate all of these, and create a surge in web traffic while aiding to your SEO efforts. Finally, use a solution for feeding customer reviews through rich snippets so one of your 5-star reviews shows up in the SERPs. When it comes to geo-specific search queries, as well as global searches, more than 90 percent of clicks fall upon the site with a positive review showing in the search engine results page.
Mobile SEO Readiness
Is your SEO set to let you shine favorably amidst a heavy downpour of natural language-based search queries versus typing in single keyword phrases? Have you run a technical audit on your site? Does it load quickly, grant easy navigation, and have the right visible information that is concise where it needs to be, yet highly optimized? Having a responsive website design is only a fraction of mobile SEO. It needs to walk a fine line between offering simplicity and weighty optimization. It needs to have a content marketing strategy that ranks with the natural language used in voice searches.
Gaze Into the SEO Crystal Ball of 2017: I see Local Search
Google will only continue to enhance itself to offer the best possible user experience. This will never change. How we perform online searches dictates how the search engine will update. Soon performing local voice search from our car will be a standard mode for searching. Therefore we can expect to see a lot of new updates to accommodate regional searches, meaning best practices for local SEO will evolve. You will also see online competition grow more aggressively, and without a damn good digital marketing agency on your side, you could find yourself in a bad position (say on page 12 of the SERPs).
There are Google partner SEO agencies that offer free consultations. Do a little research and call a few of them to learn where you stand at the threshold of 2017. Many are award-winning paid search management specialists who offer a free PPC audit, as well as a breakdown of your current SEO strategy. To dominate your digital space in business, you need to enter the new year aggressively. It’s time to let the SEO dogs out!