In a digital age when we’re accustomed to things changing overnight, one thing is for certain when it comes to search engine optimization (SEO): there’s no relaxing on the job. More than any other marketing tactic, SEO is growing in popularity and changing its algorithms almost weekly, which makes it a daunting task to tackle. Luckily, we have four need-to-know tips that will help your company tame and conquer the SEO beast in the year ahead.
1. Make Use of AMP Pages & Mobile-First Indexing
Mobile searches have surpassed desktop for a number of years as the world of search becomes increasingly on the go and as a result, Google has implemented mobile-first indexing. It’s critical that you optimize your site for a mobile audience, ensuring your mobile and desktop sites are as similar as possible and both function well. The switch from desktop to mobile also means Google will start reading your expandable content; for example, the content under “read more” and other similar CTAs will now be crawled and factored into your rankings.
AMP Pages (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source project implemented to help make mobile browsing uniformly fast and convenient for mobile users. Using guidelines and specifications built specifically for mobile, AMP optimizes pages to load, perform and display correctly for mobile users. While it isn’t necessary to build AMP pages, websites operating without mobile versions of their site can take advantage of AMP pages to deliver a reliable, easily digestible mobile version of their site for web surfers on the go.
2. Remember Webpage Speed Is Critical to the SERP
Along with mobile-first indexing, updated webpage speed is another item to put on your 2018 SEO to-do list. According to Moz, speed is one of the biggest webpage ranking factors. Search engines allot a certain amount of time to crawl each site, so the slower your site is, the fewer pages it can crawl – which is detrimental to your rankings on the SERP. Higher bounce rates, less time on page and fewer conversions are other negative metrics associated with long load times – but fear not! There are multiple ways to improve speed including using compressed files, optimized images, minimized code, reduced redirects, cached browsing and improved server time.
3. Recognize That Voice Search Is Here To Stay
With smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home popping up in households around the world, a hefty slice of SEO in the near future will largely be based on voice search queries. 7% of American households have a smart speaker in their homes, meaning there are over 20 million households using their voices to search the net.1 Forecasts predict the number of households with smart speakers is set to increase, so it’s wise to optimize your website’s search terms and keywords for voice search now.
To stay ahead of the curve, include questions and conversational queries on your site using long-tail keywords that match and answer complete questions. One way to do this is by featuring an FAQ page on your site that contains common questions and answers specific to your site, products or services.
4. Know All of the Google SERP Features
Answering questions on your site is not just beneficial to your SEO, but can also get you highlighted on Google’s SERP Features. What on earth are SERP features, you ask? It’s the variety of formats in which Google displays results for certain queries. Take a look at the image2 below for the search “google” to see an example of the various SERP features and the information they include.
There’s quite a few things going on in these search results: recent social media posts, top news stories from across the web, related search results and rich snippets – essentially, a variety of different outlets that may interest searchers of a specific term or site. Being featured in one of these coveted SERP features sections, like the local pack or rich snippet, can mean major traffic to your site.
There are also ways to make your site’s chances of being selected greater than others’. First, use the code generated by schema.org to ensure your website includes the basic requirements to become a rich snippet. Next, utilize Google’s Search Console to determine if your site is coded correctly by reviewing metrics such as search analytics, crawl stats, and mobile usability. You can also monitor which SERP features you qualify for, and based on that data, which keywords and queries you should focus on to appear in SERP features going forward.
SEO is a fast-paced, continuously evolving field. It’s always important to stay informed on the latest SEO trends and topics, remembering that your ability to adapt to these new trends will not just keep you ahead of the game, but at the top of the results.
Originally published January 2017, updated January 5th, 2018.
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