Re-Visiting Five Major SEO Trends for 2017
At the close of 2016, search engine optimization (SEO) experts compiled their thoughts on what the digital landscape would look like in the coming year. The trends many experts identified will continue throughout the remainder of 2017 and into 2018. If you have not yet prepared for these five developments, you should do so now.
- Optimize for User Intent
In the past, SEO practitioners optimized their content based on keywords. Although still relevant, keyword optimization produces more simplistic search results. When you optimize for user intent, you take search results to new levels.
User intent refers to why someone searches for something in a search engine. It involves full queries or phrases indicating what they want to accomplish. You can categorize intent based on actions such as buying, doing, finding, learning, and navigating. Defining user intent helps you identify buyer personas and inbound funnel stages.
To figure out user intent behind a search term, put yourself in the searcher’s shoes. If you used a particular search term, what would you want to do? You should also conduct searches to see how Google interprets user intent for specific queries.
Then, investigate what users search for when they visit your page. What questions do they want answered? With this information, you can optimize your content to boost your search ratings. Analytics can tell you what works and does not work so you can make adjustments.
- Create Structured Data Markups for Rich Answers
Structured data markup, or schema markup, helps you get enhanced listings on search engine results pages (SERPs). This markup assists search engines in understanding your website content so they can display information in a helpful way for users.
Rich answers, also called direct answers or featured snippets, pull an answer to a search question from a third-party website. Although rich answers come in many forms, an example might include instructions for the search “how to make French toast.” At the top of the SERP, you would see a step-by-step procedure along with other relevant information such as reviews, ratings, and calories.
From December 2014 to January 2016, Google’s use of rich answers has almost doubled. This upward trend is expected to continue in the coming years.
For a branded search, Google can deliver a knowledge panel. Usually, the information displays on the right sidebar of the SERP. Examples include searches on Microsoft, Franklin Roosevelt or U.S. Supreme Court. In each case, Google delivers a knowledge panel with a snapshot of relevant information.
When you add structured data markup to your website, you increase the likelihood of being featured in a rich answer or knowledge panel. You will also give users what they want most when searching: quick access to useful information.
- Establish Cross-Channel Marketing
Although still in its infancy stage, cross-channel marketing will experience high demand in the coming years. The widespread adoption of mobile devices connecting more and more consumers is driving this growth.
Unlike multi-channel marketing in which you establish a presence on multiple platforms, cross-channel marketing integrates your efforts across several channels. It extends beyond the capabilities of multi-channel. If a user abandons a purchase on a mobile app, you can reach out to them through other channels, such as email and social media. You want users to move seamlessly between devices and platforms when engaging with your brand.
When done properly, cross-channel marketing directly impacts conversion rates. A recent study found 73% of respondents experienced increased conversion rates after implementing cross-channel marketing. Success with cross-channel marketing depends on fully understanding your target audience and their consumption habits. This knowledge will help you craft the right message, release it at the best time, and use the appropriate channel.
- Prepare for Increased Mobile Usage
According to a recent report, mobile search in the U.S. is approximately 58% of overall search query volume. This study examined hundreds of millions of search queries across PCs, smartphones, and tablets during a one-month period in 2016. Google’s official statement indicates more than 50% of global search queries come from mobile devices.
Mobile search is growing and will reshape SEO. The shift away from desktop to mobile devices will affect how your deliver your content. Every brand with an online presence must include mobile optimization in their SEO strategies to ensure a meaningful user experience.
- Think Beyond Text-Based Queries to Voice Search
Voice search is one of the biggest and fastest growing advancements in the digital age. Although users experienced glitches during early development, current technology has improved considerably. Platforms such as Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and Google Now have reduced error rates significantly. In May 2017, Google’s CEO announced the company had achieved a 4.9% word error rate in its speech recognition technology.
The growth in voice search depends on solutions evolving from voice recognition to understanding. Technology will consider previous searches, location, frequently used apps, personalized information, and keyword research based on spoken queries. These innovations in voice search will radically affect your SEO strategies. You can no longer rely exclusively on text-based queries.
With users becoming increasingly connected and engaged, SEO is advancing at a breakneck pace. To succeed in 2017 and beyond, SEO marketers must keep an eye on trends and adapt their strategies accordingly.
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With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.