SEO best practices for 2017 are numerous, but can be divided into 5 categories:
- Multichannel & hybrid marketing
- Using Schema
- Meta descriptions
- Optimizing site-wide
The impact and influence of a brand’s online presence cannot be underestimated. Seventy-two percent of millennials say that they conduct online research before they go shopping in person. For those buying directly through websites, online retail is anticipated to reach $370 billion by 2017, up from just $231 billion in 2012.
On the B2B side, approximately 94 percent of buyers for their organization said that they conduct online research before making a purchase. Regardless of whether you are in the B2B or B2C sector, it is clear that having a strong online presence is necessary for a brand to grow.
Despite the clear directive that all brands should be investing in SEO and content marketing, many organizations are left stranded as the algorithms continue to change at lightning speed, forcing changes in SEO best practices as well.
Just in the past year we have seen changes in the SERP layout and the growth in the popularity and use of AMP pages. Google has also been experimenting with the titles and meta descriptions on the SERPs, offering some sites extra space, but this has yet to be rolled out universally. For brands to thrive in this environment, they must be able to adopt the latest industry advice. Understanding SEO best practices 2016 can help brands build a strong site as we prepare to finish up this year and head into the next.
Emphasis on multi-channel marketing and hybrid marketers
Multi-channel marketing describes campaigns that reach across platforms and devices to connect with customers, taking into account channel agnostic consumer behavior.
An estimated 95 percent of marketers say that they know multi-channel marketing is important, yet only 14 percent are successfully coordinating these hybrid campaigns. This creates a huge disconnect between what people know to be Google SEO best practices and how they are able to build their own organizations to meet the needs of these consumers.
Building these multi-channel marketing campaigns requires professionals who have hybrid abilities that can stretch across specialties. These individuals should cultivate their skills by:
- Using self-training options, such as online classes and videos to start learning about different areas of marketing
- Building relationships with those in other departments
- Encouraging coordination and collaboration with other specialties to learn their strategies and best practices
Brands themselves must also work on building multi-channel campaigns that will help them better reach their customers across all platforms. Customers are active on a variety of platforms and channels including:
- Social media
- Organic search
- Paid search
Brands interested in effectively reaching these customers need to coordinate their campaigns across these different areas. This means understanding SEO best practices and thoroughly mapping the buyer’s journey to their target personas, taking into account the different devices and platforms that a prospect might use. This will help them create effective content for the different touch points.
Campaigns should also be run that take into account the consistency that customers want to see. Sixty percent of millennials say that they expect a consistent brand experience across all channels, including offline. This means the promotions you run in paid search should match what is being delivered in store, for example. To excel in SEO best practices in 2016, you need to incorporate this cross-channel trend into your marketing model.
Schema and SEO best practices 2016
Schema is a type of markup that helps to label the parts of websites, making it easier for algorithms to ‘understand’ the site and types of content available. This helps to increase your visibility and reach.
Schema has also become increasingly important throughout 2016 and will likely to continue to grow in significance as we head into the new year. Google uses these markups in a variety of ways. For example, they are used:
- To know what sites qualify for rich listings, such as the cards appearing at the top of the results page for movie and recipe queries
- They may be helpful to guide the machine learning part of the algorithm, also known as Rankbrain
- It may also help with getting your website selected for Google Quick Answers.
Micro-moments are intent-filled moments when people reach for an online device, often a mobile phone, to answer a need that has suddenly presented itself. Google has outlined four main types of micro-moments that it wants sites owners to focus on to improve the quality of the results. These are the:
- I-want-to-know moments
- I-want-to-go moments
- I want-to-do moments
- I-want-to-buy moments.
The better brands are able to meet the needs of these customers, the easier it will be to begin to build relationships with them.
Google introduced AMP pages in 2015, and they have been increasing throughout 2016. These pages are stripped of anything extra so that the page loads faster, meeting the needs of customers who are becoming increasingly frustrated with slow-loading pages. A one-second delay when a website loads results in an estimated 7 percent decrease in conversions. AMP was originally designed for news sites, serving many of those in the I-want-to-know micro-moment. The year 2016 saw the major e-commerce site eBay introduce the new structure on millions of their site pages, helping them to serve the I-want-to-buy demographic even faster.
For SEO best practices in 2016, it is important for sites to focus both on speed and serving people in these particular micro moments. Consider how your content addresses the needs of each group and create material, especially on mobile, that is designed to provide people with the quick, thorough answer they are often looking for on these searches.
You also want to emphasize speed on your sites. Even if your pages would not be served well by AMP, you still want to make sure you maximize your loading speed. This means:
- Avoiding images that take too long to load
- Not using unnecessary cookies or other add-ons that will slow the site
- Enabling browser caching
- Allowing the site to be compressed
For more information on how to tailor your content to these customer micro-moments, be sure to explore our free research report on how to produce content in a way that delivers results.
Create more robust meta descriptions
Your meta description is the few sentences that appears under your URL on the SERP.
Google has been experimenting recently with the number of character spaces they allow brands in their titles and meta descriptions. Although the increased length has not been universal, the brands that do receive the additional space have been noticeable. The meta descriptions have more lines and stand out on the SERP. These brands now have more space to use keywords to match user intent and show why their site is the superior choice to the others on the SERP.
All brands should be focusing on their meta descriptions in light of these changes. Although not everyone will have the extra space, it is possible that there could be a greater roll-out at any point. Brands that are prepared for this boost will have greater success with their meta descriptions.
It is also common for some websites to have short descriptions– under 100 characters– that did not really cause much of a problem when the general maximum was 156 characters. Now, since many brands have significantly more, the websites that have the excessively short descriptions look even more out of place and incomplete.
It becomes easier for these sites to be hidden and overlooked on a SERP that has multiple long descriptions. All sites should make sure they have descriptions of about 150 characters that include their keywords and relevant information to entice people to click. Meta descriptions are important in SEO best practices 2016.
Optimizing Your Entire Site
With each passing year, we see an increased number of people building websites and producing content. Ninety percent of the world’s data was produced in the past two years alone. If you want your site to succeed, you need to make sure you are not overlooking any potential optimization opportunities for SEO best practices.
Alt Tag SEO best practices
Since humans process visual stimuli as much as 60,000 times faster than text, images are a great way to reach your audience. Your alt tag should include your targeted keyword and make the value of your image clear to the search engines. Remember, the search engines cannot see your image, it is up to you to tell them what it is and why it is important.
YouTube SEO best practices
Videos and are also becoming increasingly significant aspects of SEO. YouTube has also become the second largest search engine, behind only Google. Remember, however:
- include keywords in your description and title to make your purpose clear
- create videos that provide value, not ones that are basically advertisements
- focus on building a strong channel overall, followers will help boost the rankings of all your videos
You can find more optimization suggestions for YouTube on our other posts.
SEO best practices continue to change and evolve as Google adjusts its algorithm and consumer expectations evolve. For brands to succeed in the increasingly competitive digital landscape, brands want to make sure they stay abreast of these latest developments so their website remains relevant, visible, and useful for the search engines and customers.