Despite the almost yearly claims that SEO is dead, there has never been a time when SEO has been more important for helping your business reach your marketing goals. In recent years we’ve seen some big changes to the way that search engines work with a clear focus on putting the end user first to deliver the most relevant results possible. In this article, we’ll look at some of the trends that were big in 2016 and how they’ll continue to change the SEO landscape in the year ahead.
Google is moving steadily and almost inevitably towards a world that is very much focused on mobile devices. In fact mobile has often been an afterthought for most businesses until fairly recently. With the continued growth in mobile traffic and searches Google has taken the decision to change their index from desktop-first to a mobile-first model. But what does this actually mean?
Well at the moment this is only in the experimental stage but the intent is clear if you want to rank well you’re going to need a website that is setup to perform on mobile devices. And as most people are now searching on Google using a mobile device it makes sense for the ranking systems to look at the mobile version of a page instead of the desktop version in order to ensure the most relevant pages are ranking at the top.
The growth of mobile as the primary traffic source and the success of mobile personal assistants mean that marketing your business locally is an absolute must. Mobile devices have enabled real-time in the moment searches enabling customers to do everything from finding a local restaurant with directions and opening times to comparing prices on in-store products.
Thinking outside of the local pack results is also a great way to target relevant local traffic and the adoption of Schema.org markup can really help you to achieve these goals. Understanding the way that people search is the key to getting the most from local marketing and driving more business.
Following closely on from Local SEO is voice search and in particular the need to focus on Bing as much as Google for helping drive traffic to your website. Yes, you did read that right – Bing is important in the world of voice search especially since it is the default search engine in use by Siri (Apple devices), Alexa (Amazon’s Echo) and of course on all Windows 10 devices.
Powered by virtual assistants such as Siri and Cortana voice search is behind approximately 20% of mobile queries (on Google) and this is estimated to grow to 50% in 2020 according to research carried out by Microsoft. How can you make the most out of this? Schema markup and the adoption of JSON-LD for structured data will help the search engines understand the meaning of your web pages.
HTTPS is becoming more important
If you’re running an e-commerce website then you should already be using a secure HTTPS connection with SSL certificate on your website. HTTPS ensures that data such as passwords and credit card details are secure and can’t be modified. Starting in January 2017 Google Chrome will be marking HTTP pages that collect information such as passwords or payment details as non-secure. Their long-term plan is to eventually mark all HTTP sites as non-secure meaning that if you haven’t upgraded your website to HTTPS then now is the time to act.
It’s clear that 2017 is going to continue the way that 2016 ended with mobile playing an increasingly important part for driving customers to businesses websites. Making sure your website is up to the task is now more important than ever before and having a responsive website is one way you can help to give your customers the best experience possible.