Mobile, mobile, mobile—you’re probably sick of hearing about mobile, but it’s not going away. Google released yet another mobile-friendly update this year, and you can bet the mobile favoritism will only increase in 2017. Note that I specifically chose the term “mobile experiences.” It’s not enough to have a site that’s responsive, and therefore usable on a mobile device. You should be building all your online interactions with customers to be convenient, accessible, and intuitive on mobile devices. This is especially true if millennials factor into your target audience; as a general rule, think mobile first, and have everything else come second.
2. Measure and analyze more thoroughly.
There are tons of tools available online to help you measure, analyze, and understand your SEO efforts—most of which are free or inexpensive. There’s no excuse not to be measuring everything you do, from start to finish, as it’s the only way to gain insight into the real impact of your efforts. When I say “thoroughly,” I don’t just mean tracking more metrics—instead, I mean doing more to ensure that your conclusions are accurate, and turning those conclusions into actionable insights rather than speculative hypotheses. Your data can tell you pretty much everything you want to know—but you have to ask the right questions and examine the right areas.
3. Develop more long-form content.
Content marketing is still the king of online marketing strategies as far as I’m concerned, but competition is getting thicker and readers are getting pickier. People have trust issues thanks to fake news, and are getting sick of seeing the same types of headlines and short-form content over and over. The best solution to this is lower quantities of richer, more detailed, long-form content. It means you’ll have to put more effort into every piece you produce, but you’ll stand out from the competition, win more users’ trust, and secure more conversions as a result.
4. Get on top of rich snippets.
I’ve been talking about the importance of rich snippets and Schema.org microformatting for a few years now, but I’m not surprised that most business owners still haven’t gotten involved here. Microformatting is a specific content structure that makes it easy for Google to parse your information, thereby making it accessible to the Google Knowledge Graph and other intelligent content displays in SERPs. Rich answers and rich snippets (the resulting SERP displays) are getting more frequent, which means 2017 is the time to get involved if you haven’t already. Make the pledge.
5. Produce more, better videos.
It was a big year for video, and 2017 is going to be even bigger. With Facebook and other platforms jumping on the “live video” bandwagon, and more mobile consumers hungry for more visual content, the demand isn’t dying down. In fact, we’re seeing a flood of businesses jumping on the trend, which means it’s no longer enough to simply make video content. You have to commit to making your videos better, with more charismatic hosts, better production values, more creative ideas, more practical information, and of course, more raw entertainment value.
6. Learn from your customers' experiences.
SEO has largely been an objective realm, where a focus on numbers and objective results is most important, but in 2017, you’ll need to scale back your analytical thinking and focus more on customers’ subjective experiences. How your customers interact with your site and brand online, on a sliding scale, will dictate how successful your site is—even in terms of rankings. Visitors who stick around for longer and visit more pages will help you earn higher rankings, and of course, more engaged visitors means a higher likelihood of converting your inbound traffic.
7. Audit more frequently.
Search engines aren’t as volatile as they used to be, but that’s no excuse to go months without checking your data or critically evaluating your current strategies. Stagnation and ignorance are leading causes for the decay of SEO campaigns, but with a regular auditing strategy in place, you can easily spot and make improvements before they become problematic. Audit your strategy no less than once a month, and more frequently if you’re a bigger company with more invested in your SEO campaign.
These are all relatively small commitments. They aren’t going to wreck your budget. They aren’t going to completely overhaul the strategic foundation you already have in place. Instead, they’re adjustments to how you think, how you incorporate information into your strategies, and how you consider SEO overall. Because of this, there’s no excuse not to make them and follow through.
I can’t guarantee these changes alone will be enough to increase your site’s rankings in search engines, but I can guarantee they’ll make you a better marketer in 2017.