An open letter to SEO analysts, associates, interns, or junior…
SEO is a fickle beast that is in constant flux. This causes SEO best practices to evolve over just a few short years. In turn, staying abreast of the latest SEO trends, and strategically leveraging them, is critical to earn a competitive edge.
As more and more businesses jump on the SEO bandwagon, the competition for search visibility continues to increase. Search marketers must not only acknowledge the latest trends, but adapt their practices accordingly.
There are four trends that continue to go underutilized by sites engaged in SEO and internet marketing. For this reason, leveraging these tactics in strategic fashion can lend to a competitive edge for increased search visibility.
1. Accelerated Mobile Pages
Today, more searches are made on mobile devices over desktop computers. And in a mobile-first world, speed matters. Nearly half of all visitors will abandon a site if it takes over three seconds to load.
As such, Google’s search algorithm favors responsive sites that are mobile-friendly. In fact, Google has emphasized the importance of mobile usability so much that it developed a new project called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
AMPs are minimalist versions of web pages designed specifically for mobile users. AMPs strip any “extra” information on web pages, dramatically improving load speed, and in some cases, how the content is absorbed. With mobile usability of paramount focus, Google gives more value to AMPs, and often ranks these pages higher in the organic search results on mobile devices.
If you have experimented with AMPs, now is the time. This relatively new trend is a big deal for SEO, and yet many search marketers are slow to adopt. Visit AMPproject.org for the latest news and support on Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
2. Engaging Content
Back when content marketing emerged onto the SEO scene as all the rave, the common theme was to create easily-digestible, bite-sized pieces of content, and in high volumes. The outcome today is that the search results are overly saturated with fluff content, most of which is the same ideas redundantly spun into different words.
Search engine users are fed up with weak content that proliferates the web. This is probably why engagement metrics like time on site and bounce rate have become a part of Google’s search algorithm. Now, favor is given to engaging content that speaks volumes, but still in digestible formats.
When it comes to SEO and creating content that’s prone to high rankings, comprehensive articles, educational videos, and other forms of high-quality content win. Further supporting success is content that speaks to a specific audience, covers a precise topic, or relates to a very niche market.
So instead of banging-out run-of-the-mill blog posts every week, try investing in something a bit more purposeful. Such content marketing efforts can strike higher levels of engagement while serving as powerful assets for SEO.
3. “Schema” or Structured Data Markup
Using structured data markup, or Schema, is nothing new. In fact, it’s been over three years since it was considered SEO best practices. And yet, most sites on the web still fail to use it.
Essentially, Schema markup helps Google and other search engines interpret the content on a website. Schema uses special HTML tags to define specific pieces of content, such as an image, link, description, etc.
While there are WordPress plugins and other tools to help implement Schema, it can often require technical knowledge and effort. Nonetheless, it remains on the forefront of SEO trends, and offers an incredible opportunity for those not using it.
4. Reputation Means Everything
More and more Internet users are privy to using customer reviews to help base their decisions. Beyond make a purchase or calling a local store, a company’s reputation can dramatically impact SEO.
In both organic and local search (or Google My Business pages,) more 5-star reviews can significantly help increase click-through rates. And with reviews often a direct correlate of reputation, favorable businesses can also experience greater post-click conversions.
Social media platforms, as well as popular local directory sites like Yelp.com, have heightened the importance of online reputation. As such, implementing a review generation strategy is one of the most progressive SEO strategies.
Forward-thinking SEO companies and brick-and-mortars alike are putting the systems in place to motivate happy customers to leave a review. From creative, incentive-based programs to straight-up solicitation, there’s a reason why savvy marketers are getting reviews any way that they can. Online reputation means everything, especially in SEO.
While these are just a few SEO trends among many, they lend to some of the most prevalent missed opportunities. And unlike strategies like acquiring links, growing your social media following, and building authority, these strategies that can be executed almost immediately.
Image by Christopher Dallarosa