Monday, 2 January 2017

3 Hot SEO Topics You Missed in 2016!

One of the perennial SEO tasks that hits in January is the usual debate over which of the hundreds of search signals you should pay attention to for the coming year.

2016 has been interesting for a lot of reasons, and in search there have been some trends that might have passed you by.

Firstly, though, I'd like to pull out the usual advice that I give clients in January: make a search engine marketing plan. That includes, as always, three things that you didn't do last year, and will do this year, and disposes of three things that didn't work out.

If tyou don't find three things that didn't work out, then either you weren't paying attention, or you haven't been tracking your SEO and SEM activities.

At least that gives you something to put on the 'To Do More Of' list in 2017.

Here's the three things that are most common to my search clients for 2017 and which everyone should continue to do, or start doing in earnest.

Mobile & Local


Right off the bat, making web pages mobile friendly has to be a priority if, like many, you have sidestepped the topic over the past year.

It's more than just moving to a responsive theme on your blog; embracing mobile properly also means:

  • checking the mobile-friendliness of advertising network partners;
  • double-checking plug-in mobile compatibility;
  • creating content with mobile in mind, selectively published for mobile devices.

This last goes hand in hand with local search.

There are a lot of searches that tend to be done on mobile platforms that are also local. The image I like to use is that of a person in the street, using their mobile device to compare prices and make bookings for beauty treatments at neighbouring, competing salons.

It happens. It will happen more frequently in 2017 than 2016, so get used to it.

User First


For 2017, everyone needs to put their users (readers, customers, clients or audience) first in their SEO and SEM activities.

Not the search engines. There are still too many people who look at this as a technology issue, when it isn't any more. The symptom is putting search engines first (i.e. white hat optimisation and near keyword-stuffing) and the cure is user-first SEM.

That means:

  • better content;
  • responding to needs;
  • testing the balance of information-to-sale.

The first one is easy. Have a content plan, based on keyword research, using the full plethora of tools available, and apply it every step of the way. Make it interesting, personal, and relevant.

That means responding to the needs of the audience. If video works best, give them video. If it's how-to PDF files they're after, then create a content plan around that. Check out the questions they are asking, and then give them best-in-class content to answer the questions, and a best-in-class product to go with it.

Of course, that means paying attention to tracking results. It's time to install trackers, pay attention to Search Console and Analytics and make sure you know what works every step of the way, and then replicate it across the content delivery platform.

Keyword Research for RankBrain


Google's gotten smarter in 2016.

The introduction of RankBrain means that your content has multiple meanings to a search engine. The best bit about this is that you don't need to create different pieces of content for different audiences, when they are semantically close in search space.

The slightly troublesome aspect is that you should be a lot more attuned to concepts for your content, and concentrate much less on exact words to represent it.

Yes, you can still use keyword research to uncover your audience's needs, but when it comes to content creation, use the full richness of language to get your ideas across, rather than trying to target a single phrase. It's a tricky balance, but with practice one that is fairly easy to get right.

So, as you go into 2017 with your content marketing plan rolled up under your arm, keyed to topics that you have proven will attract traffic, just remember that it's about the end user, not trying to get free organic traffic at any cost to quality content delivery.

If you want one-on-one help building a search engine marketing plan for 2017, then please use this form to request a free web site evaluation.