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A Perfect SEO Strategy 2017

March 2017 is just around the corner.  Two months of 2017 are over. With the passing of each year I’ve always found concrete new ways to improve digital marketing.  This is what pushes me to make adjustments to become a better digital marketer myself.

Of the many digital (on-line) marketing processes that website owners must apply to their website, I believe that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is really dynamic.

SEO is dynamic because Google (and all other major search engines) is constantly and persistently, improving its indexing algorithms to deliver the most optimal user experience within its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Because of this, SEO specialists have a lot to do to stay on top of things. They must continually rethink their SEO game plan to be able to add value to a website owner’s SEO strategy.

I believe that SEO success comes from planning ahead, and putting a sensible strategy in place, for getting a website where it needs to go within SERPs.

Here are key aspects of SEO that I feel are really important for 2017.

These are the aspects, that as website owner, you’ll must incorporate into your overall SEO strategy to help you get your website URL in a great position within Google’s SERPs.

I think that these aspects of SEO ought to take you much further than just 2017, and should be an integral part of your website’s, search engine optimization strategy, beyond 2017.

Here’s how to create a SEO strategy that works for 2017.

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Why You Must Pay Attention To Local Search?

Google Possum is an algorithm update which happened in early September 2016. This update specifically impacted, local search.

The algorithm update affected how websites ranked in – 3-pack and Local Finder.

Number of keywords
Diagram 1

Diagram 1 shows a graph that illustrates the % of keywords, and how they changed in local finder.

Look closely at diagram 1, what’s significant is that 64% of keywords saw some type of change when mapped to local finder, that’s pretty significant.

This makes Google’s Possum update a significant one. Something that all marketers and SEO specialists must be aware of.

If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, which needs to engage with customers, located in a single city or region, then Google’s Possum update has immediate significance for you.

Get a lot more engagement for your business on local search in 2017 by doing the following:

  • Diversify the local keywords you’re trying to rank your website for.

For instance, instead of targeting pet store goregaon also target phrases such as pet store goregaon mumbai and goregaon mumbai pet store.

  • Update your Google My Business Listing if you have not done so for a long time
  • Be aware that Google is using IP addresses while generating results

Ensure That Your Website Is Mobile Ready – i.e. Responsive

I believe that 2017 is the year when marketers will officially put mobile first and desktop second.

Take a look at diagram 2.

Ensure website is mobile ready
Diagram 2

Okay diagram 2 is a little hard to read.  At the bottom (i.e. on the X Axis), different verticals in which search occurred is shown.

Blue represents desktop search from 09 – 11/2016 and the orange represents mobile search from the same period.  Obviously, mobile search is much more dominant.

MOZ reports that, 20 industry verticals out of 24 see mobile as their first source of traffic.

Okay, I’m not suggesting that desktop be abandoned completely. Of course, there’s going to be a sizable number of your visitors still coming through desktop.

I truly believe that 2017 is the tipping point where SEOs should grow their mobile-first mindset.

NOTE: What’s of real importance is that Google has implemented its mobile-first index. This new index will look first at the mobile version of your website for its ranking signals and fall back on the desktop version when there is no mobile version.

Here’s What A Mobile-First Webpage SEO Needs

  • Using responsive web design (RWD) for all your webpages if you haven’t done so already
  • Get rid of your Pop-up, opt-in forms that cover the whole webpage
  • (Google will actually penalize in 2017)
  • Simplifying your website design – Strive for UI / UX that delights site visitors
  • Minimize redirects
  • Optimize images. Large images can slow down a site. Optimizing images to be the correct size is
    great quick win.
  • Minify code. This is the process of removing all unnecessary characters from source code without changing its functionality.
  • Leverage browser caching. Browser caching stores web page resource files on a local computer when a user visits a web page.
  • Design for the finger. Since your mobile users have to navigate with their finger, make sure your website design is finger-friendly. Ensure that site visitors can scroll and tap with ease.

Here are a few things you should implement within appropriate webpages to increase your websites mobile visibility.  All of this ties in really well with Google’s Local Search.

  • City and state in the title tag
  • City and state in the H1 heading
  • City and state in the URL
  • City and state in content
  • City and state in the alt tags
  • City and state in the meta description
  • Business Name, Phone and Address

Ensure Your Website Loads At Warp Speed

Having a website that just loads fast is not good enough anymore. Your website needs to load at warp speed, i.e. lightning quick.

NOTE: Research suggests that 40 % of online shoppers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load.

This becomes crucial because more and more site visitors are using mobile devices to access your website.  Such users demand a fast and fluid experience.

If your website is slow, site visitors will be bouncing off it, this is going to hurt your number of visitors, site registrants, leads, and inevitably conversions of registrants to paying customers.

Google has launched its Accelerated Mobile Pages or (AMP) project.  This is a stripped-down version of the mobile web, which runs on a reinvented version of HTML, the language used to create web pages.  The AMP project is a tool that helps websites speed up their load time dramatically.

I recommend you checking out the AMP project and learning as much as you can about it.

Build In Voice Search Attributes Into Your Webpages

Today Google says that 20% of mobile queries are voice searches.

Diagram 3 shows just how popular voice commands have grown over the last year.

Voice Search Attributes
Diagram 3

This is a fast growing trend. I know because I find myself using voice search quite often these days. It’s just more practical and efficient than typed-in search, especially if you’re driving, it’s simply a matter of safety.

Voice search is definitely something you must build into your website’s SEO strategy for 2017.

Here’s how you go about it?

You need to rethink the way you approach keywords.

If someone was searching for a pet store in Goregaon on their desktop, they might type in pet store Goregaon.

But if they were using mobile voice search, they would probably say something like Where is a pet store in Albuquerque?

The point being, focus on longtail phrases involving questions, when creating webpage content and baking in your logical search strategy for your website.

Diagram 4 shows a breakdown of the growth in question phrases, used in voice search year on year.

Breakdown of the growth
Diagram 4

Who, When, Where, and How are ideal question words to start with as reflected in diagram 4.

Craft your webpage content, using a conversational tone, structuring content sentences that respond to these drivers.  Let the webpage content flow naturally, almost as though you’re having a conversation with your ideal customers.

This approach helps set up your webpage content to come across as being personable with a touch of warmth.  Great for maximizing engagement, while helping map your webpage content to Google’s local search as well.

Ensure Your Webpage Content Is Scannable

Scannable webpage content is vital for arresting site visitor attention which helps increasing registrations and/or conversions.

Scannable content improves UX (User eXperience). Readers get to move though large volume of content to identify small nuggets, of value add information, they can instantly relate to.

This improves engagement levels, increase shares, maximizes Click Through Rate (CTR), gathers registrants and/or paying customers.

Here’s the way to do this.

  • Use great (arresting, attention grabbing) headlines.
  • Use Sub-Headlines within your webpage textual content.
  • Always create small paragraphs. Two three lines max in each paragraph.
  • Use a Sans-serif font that is clearly readable on various display sizes.
  • Use a font-size that can be read clearly on small sized displays.
  • Don’t use black as your font color instead choose really dark grey.
  • Sharply focus your reader’s attention by using bullet points.
  • Draw attention to vital information with webpage text using font-weight as bold.
  • Always have plenty of white space between the textual content of your webpage.

Doing all of this will really help your webpage SEO.  You will help search engine robots decipher your webpage content and figure out what it’s all about.

All this will ultimately have a positive impact on where your webpage content ranks in SERPs.

New Https Warning Label In Chrome

Google Chrome has begun warning users when they attempt to enter sensitive details, i.e. credit card information or passwords, on sites that do not use HTTPS encryption.

Google Chrome will not restrict anyone from entering such data in a webpage that has been displayed with the insecure warning.  That said, the significance of the warning will most likely deter many users from completing a purchase using a CC.

Https
Diagram 5

But why the new label? After all, Chrome already displays a neutral warning icon to denote non-HTTPS pages.

Studies have shown that:

  • Users do not perceive the lack of a “secure” icon as a warning
  • Users have become blind to warnings that occur very frequently

In 2014, Google incorporated HTTPS as a ranking signal. Google gave sites that used https a boost in their rankings.  Given Google’s shift from search to user focus, this change makes sense.

Pushing websites to migrate to HTTPS encryption increases security, provides data integrity and ensures authentication across the Internet.

HTTPS assures you that the server you connect to when logging in to a member area, belongs to the company you’re dealing with.

The increased pressure on security will eventually force webmasters to move to HTTPS, and that’s regardless of whether their website requires a visitor to submit any sensitive data or not.

Google & Webpages With Rich Snippets

Webpages coded to contain Rich snippets have begun to dominate the top end of a Google SERP.

Rich snippets are snippets (i.e. small pieces) of information pulled directly from a site that specifically answer a user’s search query. Google display this information prominently at the top of the SERP.

As mobile users leverage voice search more and more, Rich snippets will become invaluable to searchers and marketers. Using Rich snippets coded within a webpage marketers can provide swift, accurate, answers to searchers’ questions in Google.

This dovetails really well into Google’s ongoing efforts to provide perfectly relevant results based on perceived searcher’s intent.

To make your website eligible to display Rich snippets in a Google SERP, to your Google webmaster tools account and inform Google that you are using structured data to markup content.

If you are wondering if it’s worth all the trouble – IT IS.

Normally, Google displays Rich Snippets above the fold in a Google SERP.  This gives your website maximum visibility and provides a link back to your website.

In Conclusion

2017 is going to be an interesting year for SEO.  The whole SEO landscape is undergoing change.

Many of the one size fits all SEO formulas marketers have been blindly implementing for websites over the years will be turned upside down. New approaches will be necessary to tap into search engines delivering site visitors organically to your website.  This is the huge value add of SE’s.

If you are running any business which derives its income from local people, definitely revamp your local SEO strategy to account for Google’s Possum update mentioned earlier in this content.

Get a little obsessive about your site speed (i.e. its page load speeds). Increasing the speed even by a second can deliver big rewards.

Use the Pingdom Website Speed Test for free, to figure out your website’s page load speed.

A successful SEO strategy requires perpetual maintenance, so be sure to keep up with SEO connected search engine trends as they unfold the year round.

Please Leave Your Comments They Are A Huge Help

If you liked this Blog post, I’d love to read your comments. If you thought that this Blog post was not up to your expectations, I’d love to read your comments.

It’s your comments that help me get better each day. Please pass on your bouquets or brickbats in the comments section right below.

Would You Like To Connect?

I’d love to hear from you. Just use admin@school-of-digital-marketing.com.

Want to talk? My Skype Id is bayross. Send me an invite. Let’s connect and chat.

I do enjoy engaging with site visitors. I’ve made several lifelong friends this way.

I promise that I’ll reply to your email never later than 2 working days.

What do you think the most important elements of SEO in 2017? Do share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Ivan Bayross
Digital Marketing Evangelist, International Author & Business Mentor
I've been an entrepreneur for more than 33 years.

I've taught marketing and finance at a few MBA schools in Mumbai, India. These subjects are like a horse and carriage. You can't have one without the other.

I am technology savvy too as I am armed with an M.Tech from Manchester University, UK. In that sense, you could call me a geek-marketer, as I’m comfortable with both technology and marketing.

I have written and published 83+ books in tech and digital marketing. Many of these are available on Amazon.

I've been working in digital marketing for around 24+ years. I love to teach the subject, plus define, execute, and tweak digital marketing strategies for my own websites and my clients.

I'm moving my love for teaching to the web.
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