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SEO Trends – How to Rank High on Google in 2017

On this Blog, we consider it our duty to help you optimize your website for search engines. If you’ve already learned about the basics of SEO (search engine optimization) and acquired a good understanding of the art of keyword research, you’re ready to take your technical knowledge to the next level. As you can imagine, much like in web design or social media, the magical world of SEO has its own trends.

Many factors impact the evolution of the Google algorithm: the transformation among users’ habits (due to the rising use of Mobile Web, for example), the way people consume search results (we’re looking for quicker and shorter answers) and even the queries of internet users are subject to a certain change.

Here’s what you need to know about online search in 2017 — your complete overview of the latest trends in SEO. If coming up high on Google is one of your goals, then grab a pen and paper and read on:

Google is showing more featured snippets

Wait, a featured whaaat? A featured snippet (also called a direct answer) is a summary of an answer to a query displayed on the top of the results page, often as a list of actionable bullet points or numbered steps. The advantage: users get their questions answered straight on the results page. Now, let’s understand the logic behind it.

Google wants to help searchers find the answers to their queries as quickly as possible. To this end, they are increasingly displaying these featured snippets on the top of their results pages.

With featured snippets, many users are finding the information they are looking for without ever needing to click on one of the links generated in a search. For queries ranging from “how to bake banana bread” to “Matt Damon movies,” Google is showing these snippets in more than 32% of queries. (In 2015, the number was 28% and that’s expected to increase dramatically.)

What does this mean for you?

The featured snippets are extracted straight from the content of the website that Google deems to have the best answer. Try to think about what questions your customers are asking. Then, write text that directly answers these common queries on your website. It often helps if your text is in the form of a list of bullet points, with the question on top. This increases the chances that Google will choose your site’s content to display in a featured snippet.

Searchers are entering longer queries with more specific intents

As users get used to looking for information on Google and other search engines, they are becoming more discerning in their searches. Instead of just looking for “boots,” a searcher today is far more likely to look for “children’s waterproof rain boots” In response, Google is also getting better at displaying results that match the specific intent of today’s searchers.

What does this mean for you?

To successfully optimize your site, you want to get at the heart of what your customers are searching for. The more you understand their specific intent, the better you’ll do. Try to target long tail keywords that capture the desires of your potential market. These are keyword phrases that are at least 3-4 words long and really answer your customer’s needs in the most accurate way.

If you are a pizzeria owner in New York for instance, you don’t want to target keywords like “pizza” or “pizzeria,” because these terms are too broad. Domino’s and other big name chains will almost always rank first. But if you target a long tail keyword like “artisanal pizzeria in SoHo,” you increase your chances of showing up high on Google.

[Note: This is one of the reasons to integrate a blog on your website. For that same pizzeria owner, he or she could write a blog post about the “best mozzarella in SoHo” or “where to find best pizza ingredients in lower Manhattan,” using these long tail keywords naturally and ultimately, increasing the likelihood of getting found on Google.]

Mobile matters more than ever

With each passing year, a greater percentage of searches are taking place on mobile devices. Back in 2015, mobile search surpassed desktop search and the numbers are only growing. As a result, Google announced in November that they will soon release a “mobile-first” index where they will prioritize your mobile site over your desktop site when determining your rank. That means your mobile site will soon matter most of all when it comes to SEO.

Google is also on the lookout for “Accelerated Mobile Pages (“AMPs”) which load faster on mobile than regular pages. AMP creates mobile-simplified content for your site that shows up instantly on all mobile devices. Web pages with AMPs tend to rank higher on Google for relevant search terms.

What does this mean for you?

First and foremost, you need a great mobile version of your website. Be sure to tweak your mobile site so it looks stunning and is easy to navigate on phones. Next, you can help make sure your blog posts load faster by turning on Google AMP.

More people are using voice search

Voice search is on the rise as more and more people look for answers to their burning questions using Siri, Alexa and Amazon Home. While voice search still represents a relatively small percentage of search, in the coming years we expect that its influence on SEO will become increasingly significant. Voice queries tend to be longer since people speak to these devices as they would to a person. In addition, users turn to Voice search when they want a quick, direct answer such as tomorrow’s weather forecast, a sports score or a cooking conversion. We don’t generally ask a voice query and then want to read a 1,000 word article.

What does this mean for you?

When it comes to providing simple answers to simple questions (like tomorrow’s forecast), Google will be providing that information right in the SERP (reminder: this stands for Search Engine Results Page), stealing away precious clicks from websites like yours. To attract valuable traffic away from the SERP and to YOUR WEBSITE, you want to create what’s called complex content. This is content that could never be answered in a small snippet of text at the top of a Google results’ page. When writing new content for your site, set yourself apart and create content that shows your expertise and creates value. Go for depth and complexity instead of quick answers.

You can also try to attract clicks with website content that answers specific, niche questions, ones that Google wouldn’t be able to answer instantly right in its result page. The bottom line is, to remain relevant in the future, you will be able to attract clicks to your pages when you hone in on information that users won’t be able to get straight from Google.

Google’s taking a bigger piece of the search pie

Google is a business and like all businesses, they want to make money. These days, Google is sending more search traffic to ads or to websites that they own. No – this isn’t a democracy where “all websites are created equally” and the fact of the matter is that Google is giving preference to the sites that can earn them clicks and cash. According to Rand Fishkin of Moz, a full 49% of Google search traffic is going to Google owned properties like YouTube and Google My Business.

What does this mean for you?

If you want your business to show up on SERPs, promote yourself on Google-owned sites like YouTube and Google Maps. Create a YouTube channel and post related videos whenever you can. If you’re a local business, you MUST have a profile on Google My Business and make sure that users can find you using Google Maps.

Cross-channel marketing matters more than ever

SEO alone is not enough and you can no longer rely on one tried and true way to bring in new customers. As competitors and searchers become more savvy and Google gets greedier with the structure of their SERPs, you need to work harder to attract web traffic and convert customers.

What does this mean for you?

To successfully market your business online in 2017, you need a multi-channel approach; work to attract new customers through social media, via an active blog, with a paid traffic (PPC) campaign as well as using traditional SEO techniques. One approach alone is less likely to bring you success, but when you put them all together they will complement each other for maximum impact!

As an example, if you start out by promoting your new website on Google or Facebook, you can improve engagement statistics like your Time on Page or Bounce Rate (the percentage of visitors who arrive on your homepage without clicking on any other pages.) Better stats will help Google see your site as valuable, increasing the chances your site will be displayed in relevant SERPs.

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