“Five years ago, you could do SEO in your sleep. Now, you have to actually be awake.” – Bruce Clay
Mobile-first index, AMP, PWAs, featured snippets, chatbots, voice search, virtual assistants… The world of SEO is changing – and changing fast. There were 1,623 Google algorithm changes in the past year alone. That’s an average of four to five updates per day.
I had a blast learning about some of these current and upcoming changes while attending the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle this week. Three days of back-to-back sessions – chock full of nothing but search, search, search. I even joked on day two that there was some hidden meaning in the fact that several of us had to search long and hard to find not only a place to sit to eat our hot lunches, but also to find silverware with which to eat them.
By the end of day three I walked away better equipped to serve GroundFloor Media’s and CenterTable’s clients and excited to for what’s to come. This conference packed quite a punch for those who work (or play) in the search marketing world – and certainly left me wanting more. But like all good things, SMX had to come to an end (until the next one anyway). Here are a few of the many takeaways from the conference:
Top Ranking Factors and Algorithm Updates
Top ranking factors in 2017 include more content, more images and faster speeds – and, obviously, mobile/responsiveness.
The more content you have, the better your chances of ranking well. Recommended page length varies by topic, ranging from 800-2,700 words per page. The most tolerated paragraph length for a user is two to three sentences.
Focus on getting one really good backlink rather than 10 mediocre ones. And buying links on large article sites (think Forbes) are a waste of resources from an SEO perspective.
Speed is crucial: 53 percent of people will bounce out of a webpage if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
You don’t necessarily need to have a high authority website or use schema to get a featured snippet. And if you’re in position six, it can be easier to get to position zero than position one.
Mobile is Huge
60 percent of searches are conducted on mobile devices and 50 percent of website traffic comes from users on mobile devices. This trend is rapidly growing.
The Mobile-First Index is coming – although likely not until sometime in 2018. We need to be preparing now and responsive design is the preferred approach, otherwise you’ve got lots of work to do to get ready for the switch.
People research spontaneously on mobile so it’s a huge lost opportunity if you’re not there when they need you. However, people typically don’t complete their research or buy/convert on mobile. Desktop still matters!
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) seem to be preferred over AMP. But you can apply AMP coding standards to your website to increase its speed.
The Latest in Local Search
Citations (which are online references to your business’s name, address and phone number) are the ante to play in the local SEO game. Once you’re in the game, they don’t make a big difference.
Although proximity is a huge factor in local search, it is not the only factor. You have to have at least decent onsite SEO in place to even make the cut to appear in the local pack. Once you make that cut, Google will then order listings by proximity.
Schema markup is essential for SEO success in local businesses and eCommerce sites for that matter.
Lastly, these quotes I overheard throughout the week really put SEO into perspective for us:
SEO is not something you do. It’s what happens when you have done everything else right.
Make your website so good that Google feels embarrassed if they’re NOT showing it in search results.
Building a website without SEO is like building a house without the wiring.
Over optimization is like putting on too much makeup. At some point, you don’t like it.
Finding your audience in search – or more so making it possible for your audience to find you – can be a bit of a moving target. This week we’ve got updates from both the paid (PPC) and organic (SEO) sides of search to keep you on your toes.
Have you ever had that friend who always seemed to know the latest popular brands and must-have products and where to find the best deals? Most of us have and probably all wondered how that friend was able to obtain all this information and be what’s coined a “supershopper.”
The good news is that anyone can now be a supershopper. Through a combination of mobile access to vast amounts of inspiration and virtually unlimited information, a new breed of shopper is quickly becoming the norm. These shoppers are willing to try new products and brands in their search for the best and aren’t looking simply during the holidays.
At the risk of negatively impacting your blood pressure, there are a few things that our industry needs to figure out – not the least of which are mitigating fake news, and relying on social networks for accurate metrics. We have a couple articles that address those touchy topics this week, and a few that highlight new features within Instagram and Google that could have an impact on your business. That said, don’t forget to check out the last article to help put some things in perspective (and hopefully lower your blood pressure) as well!
Instagram continues to add features, including shopping tags that allow consumer brands to tag products in photographs with a link to purchase. In an obvious challenge to Pinterest, it will be interesting to see how much traffic Instagram will be able to drive to eCommerce sites, and how this update might change the platform’s approach to content.
For several years now, we have been told to think “mobile first” when creating websites. With end users clamoring to their smartphone and utilizing it as their primary device for accessing online information, this approach to designing and building websites makes sense.
Websites were traditionally built with large screen laptops and desktops in mind; representation on mobile devices was an afterthought. Before the advent of responsive design, many companies in fact had separate websites for mobile devices (remember the “m.” URLs?) versus large screen devices and had to attempt to keep their separate sites in sync from a content and functionality perspective. Read more after the jump…
With the increasing mobile adoption rates, we should all be concerned with providing a good mobile user experience. This includes the need to maintain a fast site speed.
Typically you have about three seconds to capture a users attention before they abandon your website. What happens if it takes three seconds for your site to even load? They’ll likely never even get there.
Recognizing the need for websites to load quickly, Google recently started working on an open source initiative called the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project. This project gives website owners the tools to create Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). These AMPs use various technical approaches to load content almost immediately, creating a faster experience for mobile users.
The experts have been saying it for a couple of years now, and given some of the most current statistics, it seems like 2016 might actually be The Year of Snapchat:
There are more than 100 million daily active users
There are an average of 9,000 snaps every second
8 billion video snaps are sent every day
The average user spends 30 minutes in the app every day
Probably the most telling news that points to Snapchat’s coming of age is the fact that Facebook is now developing its own Snapchat-esque camera app. The addition of features like Stories, geo-filters and face recognition lenses has made the app even more interactive (and dare we say, “fun?”) and more importantly for us, a bit more metrics-driven.
With today’s announcement that Facebook has finally ditched HTML5 and redesigned their iOS (Apple’s name for their mobile operating system) app from the ground up, the social media platform has made a statement that they will continue to put an emphasis on the mobile phone. Facebook joins their recent acquisition Instagram, who also released updated their apps over the last week.
As with any major (or even minor) platform change, brand and social media managers are left scrambling to discover what updates and features changes may effect their properties. Here are a few things you should know.
With version 3.0, Instagram has made an effort to focus more on browsing photographs. The company realized that the platform was all about what’s happening now, “Things live for a couple hours and then they float off into the ether,” said Founder and CEO Kevin Systrom. The brand addressed the concern by creating the Photo Map, a service that plots all your photos on a map of the world based on where they were taken.