It's been almost three years now since SEO has been declared dead. Although content quantity seems insignificant indeed, our favorite ranking strategy is still far from being obsolete. Having seen through and enabled some of the most potent SEO tactics, Google has made it way harder for us to thread our way to the first rows. In 2016, however, SEO learned to adjust to these uneven changes and to embrace organic reach once again. Quality was the main strategic goal this year, and it's expected to be so for many to come.
Here's what's been most successful then far, and what will direct our SEO decisions in 2017.
1. Becoming the Mobilegeddon's Favorite
According to WordStream, 70% of mobile searches lead to an action within an hour, which makes this SEO factor impossible to ignore and irresponsible to neglect. Google's considered mobile optimization back in 2015 for the first time, launching a special ranking update for this kind of search, whimsically called Mobilegeddon.
With yet another update in May this year and the ever-growing number of mobile-only internet users, optimizing your site for phones (Mobilegeddon does not treat tablets as mobile devices) looks like a clever first step. Currently, a responsive design makes the largest SEO impact, but adaptive serving and separate mobile sites do not fall far behind.
2. Giving Users What They Want
However trickier in comparison to traditional tactics, organic SEO yields great results. After all, no one can deny that this approach is the cleanest, most natural way to go; when properly executed, it delivers the same rankings as its counterpart, with the addition of pure content consumer delight.
It may be more time-consuming, but it's actually not so hard – if search engines now understand user intent with utmost clarity, the best SEO companies can use the same data to find relevant content topics and stack them with keywords in an unobtrusive, natural way. Before deciding which phrases to boost, take some time to research their relevance first.
3. Returning to Local Pages
Local search is a logical side effect of increased mobile uses, and your SEO strategy can not afford not to tap into this bottomless pool of opportunities as well. Local results are the primary intent of roughly a half of all mobile searches, and the only thing you should do in order to subscribe to a list of those who profit from this tactic is to become a part of a suitable Google local page.
Content-wise, you can try adjusting your keywords in a way that will make them more local-specific, as long as it does not appear unnatural.
4. Counting Words
Finally, SEO is once again all about high-quality content writing. Organic content marketing is, after all, a direct response to the bizarre and time-wasting click-bait trend – once search engines have managed to get rid of those, the real user intent become quite noticeable. Regardless of subject matter, an effective SEO article should now be between 2000 and 2500 words long, since that's the exact length that provides in-depth interpretation of the theme and offers original, valuable and helpful content.
5. Leveraging Voice-Responsive Assistants
Smartphones will only continue to get smarter, and voice-responsive assistants are currently their developers' most ingenious achievement. And, to those accredited to a life on-the-go, mobile assistants are actually quite handy – busy adults use them as a convenient searching tool while cooking, driving and relaxing, while digitally-native teens seem to deploy almost all of their search queries by talking to their phones. As an SEO expert, you can leverage Cortana and Siri by predicting and researching phrases that most of them use, then making your keywords longer and more natural in accordance with your results.
Although crucial, these factors are not the only ones that should be included to your SEO strategy. This year has seen plenty of other tactics, all of which secure effectiveness and better rankings. Social signals, aka natural brand mention on social media is certainly one of those, along with co-citation, the skyscraper method and linking to other niche leaders.