The algorithms Google uses to organize SERPS today are utterly different from any that its original designers would recognize.
Navigating SEO has always been difficult, but it’s made easier when you’ve got a map. Learn what’s new, what’s the same, what’s coming; and how to update your SEO strategy to extract value from Google in 2017 and beyond, with WebMarketers.
1) You Cannot Succeed in 2017 Without Mobile Optimization
Google is predicting that the internet of the near future is going to be effectively mobile-only. While the desktop PC inaugurated the internet age, people access the internet predominantly via mobile devices.
‘Mobile’ is a word we traditionally associate with our cellphones, but the truth is this term applies to almost any device that isn’t a desktop PC. Our phones, phablets, tablets, laptops; everything with a browser that doesn’t require permanent access to a power outlet classifies as a mobile device.
Google’s interest has and will always be providing maximum value to those that search; and those that search are doing so via mobile devices. If your website does not provide value to mobile searchers, you can expect Google to pass you by in favor of a competitor’s site that does.
If You Are Not Mobile-Optimized, Focus On Nothing Else
If you are interested in investing in SEO, and are not mobile-optimized, do not worry about anything else until this critical step is complete. Not only is mobile-optimization the best opportunity for you to cultivate ROI, but without mobile optimization you unknowingly cripple the success of every SEO effort you take.
Mobile-readiness is already one of the most fundamental criteria for Google when it assesses the value of your site, and it is only going to get more and more important as time goes on. If you aren’t mobile optimized, learn one measure you can take right now to massively increase your mobile-friendliness in the eyes of Google.
2) Indexed Age is Critical, But Not Without Link Consistency
To Google, age comes before beauty.
Google only reads text, and has no eye for the aesthetics of your site (yet!). If your website reflects the latest-and-greatest in web design and great content, it won’t matter nearly as much as link-consistency over time.
‘Link Consistency Over Time’
Its common for business owners to invest heavily in SEO strategy, expecting to watch as their domain climbs SERPS. Over a period of months they crank out blog articles, work on establishing their link profile, and become frustrated as fail to bring about any fruit to their labour.
They put a full stop on SEO efforts, and become even more frustrated as they watch their domain fall further down SERPS!
This is because Google judges the search value of your site according to link consistency over time. It knows that the highest quality sites are the ones that have a long history of consistent care. When it sees a sudden burst of activity over a short period, followed by complete inactivity, the judgement it makes is that a site is more interested in extracting value from searchers via SEO than it is in providing value with content. Because all Google cares about is providing value to searchers, it lowers your ranking.
What to Do If You’ve Got a New Site
Indexed age is one of the most frustrating criteria Google uses to assess the value of a site. While in the short term, there’s nothing that can be done to compete with the ‘old guard’ of competing sites, incorporating the concept of ‘link consistency over time’ into your long-term SEO strategy can cultivate a massive advantage over your competition.
While your front-page SERP competitors have ‘indexed time’ in abundance, most have likely become complacent in their position and neglected the importance of ‘link consistency’. So long as you continue to produce quality content and never stop cultivating your link profile, eventually your site will gain momentum and blow by the competition before they even know what’s going on.
Think of it this way:
While you happen to be several miles behind your competition, focusing on continually cultivating links over time is like being in an F1 car while your competitor is driving an old jalopy. They’re secure in their position at the front of the race, but you’re moving at breakneck speed. By the time they see you in their rear-view mirror, its too late for them; and you’ll be miles ahead before they can even respond.
So long as you can maintain consistent link growth, old sites that do not continually cultivate links will be unable to match your speed as you pass them. Your competitor will have to invest heavily over months just to match your speed!
3) Quality Before Quantity Content
When it comes to content, if you can have either quality or quantity; always go with quality.
But ideally; work so that you can reliably have both.
Success at SEO isn’t about producing content so many times in order to achieve a result. It’s about producing it properly, enough times.
It’s better to get quality content out slowly than to post garbage content consistently. If your content isn’t getting decent on-page times, isn’t clicking-through, has consistently high bounce rates, and isn’t getting shared; Google is going to recognize that your content is poor.
Even if you’re posting content every day, it’s continued production isn’t doing anything but wasting your time and energy if it’s poor quality. In some cases, Google can even reduce your ranking if it believes your efforts are similar to those that are meant to deceitfully attract and extract value from searchers.
What Does ‘Quality’ Content Mean For Google?
Google evaluates the quality of a given article with a wide range of metrics. Things like viewer time spent on-page, shares across social media, links to and from the article, etc.
But producing content to nailing these metrics can be somewhat of a fools errand, because the way Google evaluates content is always changing.
Instead of focusing on maximizing these criteria to produce the best content for Google, it’s best to simply focus on producing quality for people! The interests of people are what Google is consistently refining their algorithms to meet, so focusing your content on providing value to your audience will produce SEO value for long into the future.
Focusing on meeting Google’s current criteria means it will only produce value so long as those criteria exist (which wont be nearly as long!).
4) Keywords Still Matter, But Not Like They Used To
It’s frustrating that in 2017 ‘keyword stuffing’ is still a thing.
For the past 5 years, Google Penguin has been utterly decimating sites that engage in the practice of ‘spamming’ links and keywords to quickly rank and get traffic.
Exact match keywords are far less important than they are often thought to be, but they are still important!
Stuffing your site and blog content with exact-match keywords will produce no value for you, and not only exposes you to the risk of Penguin annihilating your SEO profile, but cripples your conversion rate.
Exact-match keywords are still important, but they are far from the only ingredient for a healthy keyword profile.
How To Do Keywords Right:
To get the most out of your keyword strategy, it’s important to include exact-match keywords as part of your content strategy, but not to depend on them. Your strategy should also acknowledge the reality of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI).
LSI Keywords are words that have a similar semantic value to those that users are searching for when they go to Google. This means that in addition to valuing exact match keywords; Google is also analyzing your content for words and phrases that have associated meaning.
When a potential visitor goes to Google to look for “razors”, Google will look for exact match keywords words, but also scan your pages for synonymous words and phrases like ‘blades’, ‘shave’, “types of razors”, “men’s razors and blades”.
Google uses Latent Semantic Indexing to prevent searchers from landing on pages of ‘milled’, poor quality content. When articles and pages have a strong LSI profile, Google judges that the content on-page is of high quality because it includes additional information of value to a searcher. Cheap articles plug keywords to generate traffic, but confer no value onto a reader. Those that are written by experts on a topic are tremendously valuable, and naturally include terms and phrases associated with the topic a searcher is looking to learn about!
Building a Strong LSI Profile:
You could use LSI keyword generators like LSI Graph, but this can be another fools errand. Plugging LSI keywords and phrases is not even guaranteed to work, as LSI keyword generators can only give an impression of words and phrases relevant to Google. Even if generated keywords do work, they will only do so until Google updates it’s index or upgrades it algorithms.
The best way to ensure you consistently produce content the attention of Google’s LSI algorithms is to focus less on how Google is looking for articles, and more on providing what Google is looking for! The best return on your investment of time, energy, and money comes from first getting into the habit of consistently producing content that reflects your expertise, and provides legitimate value to readers. This type of content is exactly what Google has and will continue to write its algorithms to find, so of course it will find yours if it’s written this way!
Once you get into the habit of consistent, high-quality content production, LSI tools can help to refine and optimize your writing, but should not be the foundation you build them on.
5) SEO Strategy Does Not Occur in A Bubble
In earlier days of SEO, what you did to generate value from Google was distinct from what you did to generate value from Facebook.
Today, things are different.
Content strategy, social strategy, even your offline marketing efforts all come together to impact your Google ranking. Google is watching and measuring the conversation that is occurring online as a result of all your marketing efforts to determine your SERP ranking.
SEO success in 2017 requires a holistic marketing approach that leverages the unique strengths of each marketing discipline to impact ranking. Content marketing, social marketing, even traditional marketing should all include the interests of SEO as a fundamental part of their strategy and planning.
A Holistic Approach to SEO
Every time your social accounts are mentioned online, it impacts your trust score in the eyes of Google. Any marketing material that leads an individual your website, or to engage in conversation online concerning your products, services, or brand will lead Google to prioritize your business on their personalized SERPS.
This is part of the reason why hashtags have become such a common feature of print and radio advertising. Print and radio are not digital media, but they can be a powerful part of successful digital marketing strategy. Not only will they help you meet your content and social marketing objectives; but in turn they will also impact SEO.
Getting The Most Out Of Your SEO
Designing your digital marketing plans to game the current state of SEO is generally a recipe for diminishing returns. Your content might generate traffic in the short term, but so long as it is created for Google before readers, it’s value will decrease as Google changes.
Quality content that is designed first for readers, and Google second, is and will always be a better investment. Assets like these create just as much value, but they also continue to do so as Google changes.
Taking into account considerations like how your audience comes to interact with your business online, what they’re looking for, how they’re doing it, etc. should always be the first questions a digital marketer asks. Finding answers to these questions might be a little less straightforward then determining how Google comes to find and interact with your business, but they’re set to provide you significantly more value over time.
Navigating SEO is a difficult task for any marketer. It’s made easier with a map, but easiest with a guide. Find out how your business can make easy adjustments to digital marketing strategy to accelerate your climb up SERPS with WebMarketers.