Suddenly it’s June, and we are halfway through 2017! At rankingCoach we have had one of our busiest years so far, keeping up with new customers, events, and the ever-changing rules of online marketing. So, we thought that now, as Summer approaches and new trends sink in, it might be a good time to reflect on what 2017 has brought and what we can expect to see as the year goes on.
TREND #1: THAT’S RICH! VOICE SEARCHES AND FEATURED SNIPPETS
A Google survey conducted by North Star Research found that over half of U.S teens, and 41% of adults, use voice search on a regular basis. Coupled with the massive increase in voice search accuracy and the continual growth of handheld mobile devices, voice search is set to grow as one of the most influential trends of 2017. But when you ask Siri or Google Now a question, where does this reply come from?
The answer is often generated from a ‘featured snippet’ or ‘rich answer’, which is displayed at the top of Google’s results in the form of an explanation for your exact question, plus a link to the website that is explaining it. You have probably seen this kind of result when you type a simple question in sentence form into Google. This featured snippet is a great way to boost traffic to your website and is becoming more and more important as this is usually the result that Google or Siri read out to you in voice searches.
Getting your website featured as a rich answer is simple but will require some patience and attention to the right details. It is essential that your content answers the kind of questions the user is asking, like “how to get red wine out of white clothes”, or “how to get rid of pimples fast”! These kinds of searches contain long-tail keywords – phrases of 3-5 words that all relate specifically to your product. It is important that you spend some time thinking about what kind of long-tail searches your customers could be looking for, and create quality content to reflect this. If your website has a clear, concise, and relevant answer, you have a good chance of becoming the featured snippet at the top of the SERP.
TREND #2: MOBILE-FIRST, AND FAST - ACCELERATED MOBILE PAGES (AMP)
We are all aware that over half of all Google searches are now made from a mobile device. It, therefore, makes sense that their latest trend is leaning towards improving the mobile users’ experience, through something called Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP. Pages that have been ‘AMPed’ are lighter, faster, and first and foremost designed to load quickly and completely on mobile devices. According to a June 2017 Chartbeat survey, pages that load with Google AMP are retaining customers for 35% longer than standard mobile web pages, making AMP a hugely useful addition for small business online marketers.
AMP is a trend that is still very much in the process of developing as we hit mid-2017. Web builders, CMSs, and platforms are working to adapt to this change and offer AMP as an option to their customers. rankingCoach supports WordPress, which is one of the pioneering CMSs in offering their customers an AMP plug-in for articles published. This means that any new articles have this lighter, faster quality and are more likely to rank higher in mobile search engine results.
TREND #3: BACK TO BACKLINKS? OFFPAGE FACTORS
Throughout 2016, SEO experts often emphasized the growing importance of offpage citations leading to your website, and it was speculated that these could even replace backlinks as the top offpage ranking factor. However, this trend appears to have slowed down in 2017, and backlinks remain the top offpage decider on who places higher in search engine results. But, it is not the backlinks of past algorithms, where quantity over quality led to manipulation and fraud. The emphasis is, once again, on creating something useful for the user, a quality network of links with relevant and well-placed anchor texts on the linking page.
So, what kind of site should you get links from? For more detail, check out our previous article specifically addressing backlinks, but basically, sites linking to yours should be well established and relevant, ideally with an authority on the subject matter of your website, such as a .gov or .ac website. Buying backlinks is never a good idea, and could ultimately land you in trouble with Google.
As the online marketing space becomes more crowded, competitive, and central to business success, SEO is becoming ever more complex in response to this. The focus, however, remains on the user. The best SEO advice thinks not about what you can do for your website, but what your website can do for your customer. Search Engines strive to deliver the best possible solution to every search made, so ensuring the quality and relevance of your website’s content is likely to continue to be the most sustainable and accessible tip for getting to the top.