Over time, user behaviors and technology change. Google is always tweaking and adjusting its search algorithm to provide a better experience and better fit for modern users. The constant improvement is great for the millions of people who use Google every day, but it can be a huge challenge for professionals who want to market their businesses online. The constant march of changes, both big and small, means that your SEO strategy can quickly fall flat and become tragically outdated—no matter how well it worked five years ago.
As users, we love when innovations in the online world better connect us with the online content we want to see. As marketers, we have to be ready to adjust when Google changes what it looks for in web content.
It’s 2017, and the Web has changed a lot in the last five years. If it’s been awhile since you’ve thought about ranking factors or what search engines are looking for from your website, then it’s time to revisit the basics.
What Are the Basic Ranking Factors Google Is Looking for in 2017?
Google considers hundreds of factors when ranking websites, and it would be overwhelming to chase down and work on every factor in the mix. However, any great SEO strategy is all about prioritizing. Here are some of the most important ranking factors that businesses should be focusing on in 2017:
Helpful and Relevant Content Remains a Top Ranking Factor
Content still matters, and it probably always will. But what makes great content in 2017? If you’re still stuck back in the “stuffed keyword” days, then you’re in for a big surprise. Google is now looking for relevant, informative, and comprehensive content that speaks to your readers, not to search engines.
As Google gets better and better at parsing natural human language, you’re afforded the opportunity to be more natural when you write for the web. While you should still use relevant keywords naturally in titles, headlines, and the body of your content, they should make sense and not be distracting to your readers.
Remember that online content should always be easy to read, easy to scan, easy to digest, and focused on offering something of value to your readers. You can also create more engagement by mixing up your written content with video and image content. Learn more about creating effective online content.
A Natural and Authoritative Backlink Profile Is More Important Than Ever
Backlinks are links on other sites that link back to your website and content, and they help indicate to search engines that your website is authoritative and reputable. Google has made it clear that backlinks are important if you want to rank highly, and low-quality or otherwise “unnatural” backlinks just won’t cut it.
In 2017, you need to not only watch and maintain your backlink profile, but also be proactive in earning new backlinks from reputable sources. Get tips for earning high-quality backlinks.
Prioritize Your Users’ Mobile Experience to Stay Relevant
Search from mobile devices is huge right now, representing around half of Google’s overall search traffic. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, it won’t show up in mobile search. It’s that simple.
Mobile search is deeply tied to local visibility. People often look at several pages before making buying decisions, and it is often a cross-device journey. Mobile missteps with your website could mean that you are missing out on a huge amount of traffic, especially traffic from your local area. If you’re worried about the experience you currently offer for your mobile users, schedule a mobile website analysis with our team.
Deliver a Cohesive User Experience That Works for Your Users
Google increasingly wants businesses to focus on pleasing their target audiences and providing a great online experience. That means that some of the “nuts and bolts” of your website factor into search rankings. Google looks at things like page speed, functionality, and navigation structure, as well as how users react to your site when they find it. If people have trouble using your site or getting it to work, your search rankings will suffer. Find out what goes into an excellent online user experience.
Branding and Social Reach Tie Everything Else Together
How people see you and your brand online may not be a straightforward ranking factor, but reputation does matter.
From your social media presence to direct searches for your brand name, Google pays attention to signs that people know and trust you. Google even has its own built-in ranking and review system! If you’ve made mistakes with your brand image in the past, it’s time to fix them and move forward. If your brand feels generic or fails to stand out from the crowd, it’s time to take it to the next level. Watch this video to learn more about social media and establishing your brand.
Although a lot of the modern changes in ranking factors are just new twists on old standards, Google’s message to marketers remains clear: you should provide a better online experience for your users, whether on desktop or mobile, using ethical strategies. If you want to increase your search rankings, then these basic factors should figure strongly into your current marketing strategy. They are the foundation of organic visibility in 2017, and they are all factors that aren’t likely to go away soon.
Improve Your Search Rankings and Expand Your Reach
Is your content in desperate need of an update? Would your website benefit from a more modern, user-oriented polish? Are you ready to learn more about how to create and maintain marketing strategies that work? Contact our marketing experts to talk about where you are, where you’d like to be, and how we can help you get there.