Pt.2 – Experts Weigh in on SEO Best Practices for 2017

This post originally appeared on weberous

In our last post, we looked at three ways that businesses should be doing SEO in 2017 to be effective. Having complete behind-the-scenes structured microdata, optimizing for human queries instead of just machine algorithms and organizing content into categories were all covered in the last post.

In this post, we’ll go over three more SEO techniques businesses should be applying in 2017:

Show You’re Secure

Something else that is quite visible on your site and that will help you secure a good ranking is the SSL encryption indicator, says chief operating officer of Road Warrior Creative Chris Hinds.
“Chrome users (about 55% of all traffic) will begin to see websites with SSL flagged with a nice green ‘secure’ tag,” Hinds says. “This positive distinction in search results is something that may have a substantial impact on click through rate. There is also discussion within Google of eventually flagging websites with no SSL as ‘not secure’ both in-browser and in search results.”

Obviously, the implication is that letting people know your site is a secure one right from the search results will make it more appealing to click on than a site marked as not secure.

Design for user experience

While the phrase “content is king” has been around for much longer than the internet has been a thing, content is getting some pretty stiff competition for its throne from user experience, according to Waypost Marketing president Doug Fowler, who says optimizing for users is becoming increasingly important.
“We’re moving towards a place where Google bots care more about how visitors behave on your site than they do about the actual content on your website,” Fowler says. “If your visitors are not clicking, it means that nothing on the page interests them. If your visitors leave right away, it means that their expectations didn’t match the reality.”

Google is now more interested in how your visitors interact with your pages rather than the actual content that is on the page, Fowler says. Therefore, if you have no text on your homepage, but visitors engage a lot with your site, you’re doing great SEO work and if your site has a ton of content, but no engagement, you’re failing at SEO.

“There is no more standard SEO or standard web design,” Fowler says. “Everything depends on your visitor. And as a marketer or SEO expert, it’s your job to create a website that meets the visitor’s expectations. That’s what effective SEO is today.”

Echoing this sentiment is digital content specialist at Brand Extract Chris Wilks.

“Traditional ranking factors, such as title tags and meta descriptions, are diminishing in value,” Wilkes says. “Instead, search engines are looking to analytics to determine the most valuable pages, and therefore the most worthy of high search engine rankings. Quick page load speeds, mobile-friendliness and intuitive information architecture are now what’s going to earn you precious real estate at the top of SERPs.”

Wilks suggests:

  • Ensuring your site is mobile-friendly,
  • Making technical enhancements to ensure your site loads quickly
  • Thoroughly covering the topic that you are addressing on a particular page, and
  • Providing clear, obvious calls to action that enhance the user experience.

These are all web design 101, but what we’re seeing is that UX is now actually a Google ranking factor.

Start Separating SEO From Other Strategies

Lastly, anyone who wants to rank well should stop compartmentalizing their search marketing efforts into “paid” and “organic,” says Sean Martin, marketing manager at Directive Consulting.
“People are still operating like SEO and PPC are distinct campaigns with no crossover, but today, the most successful campaigns are using the data from their paid tactics to inform their organic ranking optimization projects,” Martin says.

Martin suggests one way of doing this is to check out your paid click through rate to see if your ad copy is generating clicks. If it isn’t, test different copy in already ranked organic link titles to see what copy generates the most clicks. Once you’ve ascertained that, re-optimize your paid ad copy to increase your paid click through rate.

As SEO continues to evolve, it’s up to marketers to adapt to what is working by keeping up to date on the various factors that affect search on the internet. Giving your visitors the best possible experience on your site will always be a top priority, just as getting them to your site will always be a challenge.

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