Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can often seem like a black art, impossible to understand or keep up with. Luke Fitzgerald from SEO experts Wolfgang Digital has compiled five tips that will help businesses develop a solid organic SEO strategy for 2017.
Focus on accelerated mobile pages
With the rise in mobile use globally, a mobile-friendly website has become an imperative for businesses. In fact, many businesses are not just adding on mobile-friendly sites as a second step to their website, they’re taking a mobile first approach. Bearing that in mind, accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are fast becoming the norm within the publishing industry and we predict this will extend across all business verticals within 2017. Accelerated mobile pages is a Google initiative developed to improve the performance of the mobile web; basically to make sure that webpages with rich content like video, images and graphics load instantly. Now that Google has a dedicated area for monitoring the crawl and index rates of AMPs in the Google Search Console we expect this to become an even more prominent aspect of the SEO landscape in 2017. You can find out all about AMP and whether it’s right for your business here
Work to speed up your site’s load time
We recently produced a study that revealed that for every two tenths of second businesses can shave off their server response time, they can expect to see an 8% lift in conversion rate. An 8% lift is not to be sniffed at! As web users, we’re becoming more accustomed to a fast, informative web landscape, and we’re becoming more impatient by the minute. As such, the growing importance of page speed is a trend we see snowballing well into 2017 and beyond. Improving page load speed and server response time will undoubtedly lead to a better user experience and the SEO rewards will, in turn, be realised. We would advise businesses to start using the free Google Page Speed Tool today and work with their developers and web admins to improve their site’s performance
Take steps to secure your website
Simply put, obtaining a valid SSL cert and migrating to HTTPS is a must for any website in 2017. Gone are the days where only eCommerce transaction pages need to be fully encrypted. Users and search engine bots are now favouring fully HTTPS sites and Google has even been giving slight ranking boosts to those businesses that have taken steps to create a safer, more secure web environment for its users. The process for HTTPS migration varies slightly depending on a business’ hosting, CMS and server configurations, but former-Googler Fili Weise covers the general process for migrating safely within the majority of scenarios rather succinctly here
Take advantage of Google My Business
The significance of Google My Business is set to increase steadily in 2017. For those unfamiliar with Google My Business, it’s a significant piece of virtual real estate on page one of Google search results where businesses can advertise their business name and address (NAP) listings, images and opening hours. It also gives the added bonus of allowing users to review a business’ website directly through their smartphones or desktop when logged in to any Google account. It’s essentially free advertising from Google and would advise any business to use it to capitalise on the knowledge graph instead of getting a big blank white space on the right hand-side of a branded search term. Google has published an excellent guide to getting the most from your listing. We’d suggest following these directions to a tee.
Nurture quality inbound links
The role of backlinks is still critical to SEO but businesses need to remember that it is not acceptable to base backlink strategies around high volume acquisition rates, it’s all about quality and relevance. So for example, if a business is engaging in PR work for their brand, they should make sure that links are factored in to all release work and don’t be shy to ask for a link to be included. You can build great content until the cows come home but often the easiest way to get a link is to simply ask for one! Here are some practical link building tactics you can employ for your small business without a huge budget. All it takes is a little time and some decent web etiquette.
Ultimately, all of the tips above need to be underpinned by well-structured, useful and engaging on-page SEO together with quality content. We know that Google’s Panda algorithm penalises poor content making it even more important to develop a good content strategy. Finally, businesses need to keep updated with the SEO trends. Things change quickly these days with little warning; businesses need to be on top of their SEO efforts in order to maintain their online presence.