Do you make New Year’s resolutions? We did, last week on the blog.
Check out the resolutions a lot of us made way back in early 2016:
According to Money, the top goal for Americans was to “enjoy life to the fullest”, and a close second was “live a healthier lifestyle”. Far down at the bottom was “pay off debt.” As a country, most of us are fairly realistic and stick to one goal.
It’s good to make goals, even if we don’t always achieve them.
Setting goals gives us a vision for the future and puts something in our sights that we can reach for. Personally, we aim for better health, more time with people we love, and a more financially stable lifestyle.
On the content development and marketing side of things, setting goals and looking to the most useful SEO content tactics for the next year also gives us something to look toward. Quality content comes from using SEO as an effective tool, drawn from your supply of strategies and experience. Ready to dive into our most useful SEO content tactics to share for the New Year? Grab a latte and join me!
SEO Roots: A Look Back at the Beginning Before We Look at the Future
I was born in 1991, when the launch of the world’s first website happened. (I like to say it was fate bringing the internet and I together – since eight, I’ve had a natural affinity and love for our world wide web.) As the ‘net grew to include Google (1997) and Yahoo (1994), marketers took advantage of keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks in order to rank high on search results.
The art of SEO, or search engine optimization, came along in the early 2000’s to help connect users with the information they needed to find local results. Since that time, user-focused SEO and changes to Google meant rankings had to be earned through relevant, quality content rather than an overuse of keywords.
Today, relevant content and mobile optimization are required to rank at all, and must be backed by authority and expert links.
Content no longer ranks high simply due to a large amount of spam or repetitive keywords throughout a piece of content: it ranks high based on a lot of factors, many of which are now human-based more than bot or algorithm based. (Check out my post all about how semantic search is the way of the future.)
6 SEO Content Tactics to Use in 2017
Search Engine Journal recently gathered the wisdom of 44 SEO experts to ask their views of what trends will define 2017. We gathered about 15-16 for our roundup in the last week of December 2016. While everyone has a different view of what the year will look like, there is one thing they all agree on: as we move forward, it becomes even more important to stay aware of the latest technology and how our strategies need to adapt, no matter what year it may be.
Here are the SEO tactics we need to watch as we go into a new year, one still unwritten, yet full of possibility and growth.
The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) was integrated by Google early in 2016. The open initiative encourages publishers to create mobile-optimized content—pages load quickly on mobile devices for more efficient use.
The goal with AMP is to deliver the best mobile experience to the average user, lessening the wait time for things like videos and graphics. Experts across the board believe that this new year will be the deciding factor in whether AMP stays or gets shelved.
2. Mobile experience
Apps will continue to be a part of the user experience, which means indexing them will be important going forward. As the introduction of RankBrain has made its impact in the world of algorithms, so too has the continued focus on mobile.
Google has already talked about making their index mobile-first and restructuring algorithms to first use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages. This will continue to be important in 2017, especially as 3 out of 4 Americans own a smartphone, up from 2015.
Mobile activity will intersect with search engine optimization and ranking going into this next year. As Duane Forrester reminds us at SEJ, “the shift has already happened…if you’re still ‘thinking about mobile’, consumers won’t be thinking about you.”
3. Content optimization
As industry experts point out, our focus needs to be on content optimization rather than keyword optimization. And while it remains important to a content marketer’s SEO strategy, there is the temptation to get trapped in the “content is king” cycle.
With millions of articles published each month, there has to be something to make you stand out from all of the other voices who want the attention of your audience. Long-form content is a start in the right direction.
4. Machine learning
Innovative technology and its capabilities will reveal previously unseen patterns of searcher behavior. Advanced machines like Google’s RankBrain and the rise of artificial intelligence will make it even more important to put forth the effort in order to rank with the best.
The area of search engine optimization will move forward as a technical approach. The challenge may lie in not knowing why a piece of content ranks at a certain spot, as machine learning has an influence on the algorithm.
5. Voice search
Billions of searches are done each year via voice commands, and the number is only expected to grow. This trend will have an impact on our keyword optimization since we don’t speak in the same way we write—think asking a question versus typing a statement into a search box.
The move toward conversational search among a variety of devices will definitely have an impact on SEO, especially as we consider the “one correct answer” given by a device. This goes back to quality content and making sure you are providing the most thorough and most readable answer.
6. Quality links
Well-organized resources filled with useful content can make quite a difference in the building of trust with your audience. Links still matter and contribute to rank, and as Google reminds us, creating “unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity” pays off.
Experts differ on the importance of link building. Adam Audette at SEJ believes that content developers would do well to focus on link building for amplification rather than for SEO purposes. Think of it like a circle: if you create great content, and promote it well, that content will be linked to and subsequently return value to your site.
We’ve seen it happen: a year after I published this podcast with Joanna Wiebe, CrazyEgg picked it up and linked back to our site, citing it in their post defining conversion copywriting. The link quality was almost 80 DA (domain authority) – a huge link boost!
So, remember: backlinks still matter. These links back to your webpage still need to be authoritative and relevant as it relates to SEO. Create amazing content, publish it, share it: you’ll get links from high quality sites if they think it’s good enough!
4 Key Tactics to Keep in Mind for Creating More Fantastic Content in 2017
While predictions from a host of experts can be helpful going into the new year, what exactly are we supposed to do with all of this information?
1. Optimize for mobile
Accessing the internet via the phone and tablet surpassed desktop usage in 2016. Those numbers alone should be motivation for all of us to better understand AMP and mobile-first indexing.
It isn’t enough anymore to build a site for desktop usage and then scale it back for mobile users. Not only does this drive users away, but it may prevent them from visiting at all. As Search Engine Land notes, content and links on a mobile site are key drivers in search engine visibility while ranking is still based on the desktop version of a site.
2. Focus on long-form content
Every SEO strategy should focus on the building of high-quality content that is relevant and authoritative.
Joe Pulizzi talked about the rebirth of long form in an exclusive email that went out just last Friday to the CMI audience in an exclusive email, PDF export here:
When all your competition is going small, maybe it’s your time to go big – indepth articles, hearty and detailed podcast interviews. - @JoePulizziClick To Tweet
Now how, in this world of “snackable” content, multiple smartphones, and no attention span, are we seeing these longerform pillar collections of content cutting through the clutter?
The point I’m trying to make is that nearly every marketer we talk to has run to shorter posts, shorter social media updates, shorter videos, shorter podcasts … thinking that audiences don’t have the desire to invest themselves in content for a longer period of time. But they absolutely do … if the content is worthwhile. Those marketers who take a longerform approach can immediately position themselves and their stories as differentiated simply because of the length.
So, when all your competition is going small, maybe it’s your time to go big – indepth article series, hearty and detailed podcast interviews, a fullfledge custom print magazine, and possibly even a customer event. When everyone else zigs, you zag. – @JoePulizzi
Joe hits the nail on the head.
Long-form content also gives the writer an opportunity to share authoritative information with quality sources to back it up. Readers will return if they know they are going to receive solutions to their need.
3. Keep pace with technology
The chatter about artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and voice-search innovation. Over the course of just two years, Amazon sold nearly 5 million Echo devices, which allow users to control their home through smart technology and perform voice searches.
The rise in the use of digital personal assistants will change how the average user searches, increasing the number of conversational queries during the process. Whether we are asking Siri or Google Assistant, the way we search with our voices is different than how we type in a search query.
Adapting your SEO strategy according to how the audience is using your site and developing content with a conversational tone are just two ways to stay engaged with the newest digital inventions.
4. Progressive Web Apps (PWA)
Google tells us that PWAs are engaging, reliable, and fast, bringing a new level of quality to a home screen. These apps are live and installable, eliminating the need for an app store.
SEO efforts can be boosted by utilizing PWAs while you increase the level of engagement through an app-like experience for your audience.
Moving Forward in Your SEO Journey this Year
Every content developer should know that SEO copywriting is only as good as the skills and tactics behind it.
While 2017 lies open like a crisp book full of blank pages, content developers can continue to keep learning and keep connected with the latest updates on the most effective SEO tactics.
If your resolution is to create better content, connect with us over at Express Writers for some goal-worthy ideas!