For many business owners, search engine optimization is a vital long-term investment used to boost their success online. Websites, new and old, have the opportunity to attract new customers through high placement on Google. So if your business can't be found using relevant search terms, your competitor is likely taking your place—and, ultimately, your business. But you can help give your business a competitive edge by staying on top of emerging SEO trends.
If you subscribe to the language of Google and SEO, you may find lots of buzzwords thrown your way over time. Every day, Google advances the SEO landscape to cater to its users with features like voice search and mobile-first index. How will these features impact SEO in 2017 and beyond? What are the key emerging trends? And what's the impact on mobile and the digital marketing funnel?
How will voice search change SEO?
As the volume of voice searches increases, businesses can prepare for SEO implications in response.
Effective SEO strategy begins with keyword discovery—finding the search queries customers use to find a business's products or services online. Businesses that thrive through SEO identify which keywords are most relevant to meet their goals. Then, they use SEO tactics to ensure visibility when their customers are searching.
Voice search presents a shift in traditional keyword discovery in order to maximize effectiveness. Voice search queries tend to favor more contextual, natural phrases over prior short-tail search language. Common voice searches can often exceed seven word phrases, extremely long-tail keywords compared to traditional desktop and mobile searches. Consider the following example:
An example of a high-volume desktop search for a service business might be “plumber in Jacksonville." By contrast, the same customer likely may have started using voice search to ask, “What would cause water to leak from the vent in the plumbing system?" Being the top result for both search queries could be a key factor in gaining business online.
This leads to a major implication of voice search—being in the top position. Through voice search, becoming the default response gives your business the optimal exposure. There is a drastically reduced benefit from being number two.
For 2017 and beyond, the website that most closely matches the user's query can help beat out their competitors by being the leading resource.
How can I optimize for voice search?
In a nutshell, great content is still king for SEO. However, discovering popular long-tail keywords that come through voice search could be an SEO tactic that positions you above your competitors.
SEO experts recommend that your website address the "question behind the keyword." In other words, make your website visible to your customer before he or she necessarily knows what product or service they require. To do this, provide voice search-optimized content that benefits the user's experience.
Next, your content will need the support of external backlinks to assert your website's authority on the topic. Relevant third-party sites will confirm to the search engines that your content is extremely relevant and meaningful to the user.
What does the mobile-first index mean for SEO?
In November 2016, Google announced the release of mobile-first indexing on the Google Webmaster Central Blog. The search engine will be experimenting with mobile website crawling to determine keyword ranks, compared to a single index of the desktop version of a website.
The recipe for SEO success in 2017 will likely include serving great content on a fast-loading, mobile-optimized website. To help your business grow in 2017 and beyond, cater to popular voice searches for your products or services with keyword-driven content, and take a proactive approach to Google's algorithm updates by following trends in online consumer behavior.