Staying on top of ever-evolving digital marketing strategies means following the latest SEO updates and trying out different tools to improve your site’s rankings. If you’re like us, you’re constantly reading articles and blogs, following lots of experts in the field, and regularly scoping out your competition for new techniques and ideas.
As fast as things change with search engines and their algorithms, so do the platforms, devices, and technology people use to do searches and find what they’re interested in. You can no longer afford to miss the latest trends for mobile and tablets in your SEO and keyword strategies.
If you’re thinking about SEO through the eyes of your customers (and we’ve talked about just how important that is), then you want to consider how they search.
Your customers are not just searching on desktop. They’re finding web pages in the many different ways technology has followed us away from our computers and into every aspect of our lives.
These are the technology trends that aren’t backing down, the ones you’ll want to keep up with and integrate into your SEO and content strategy.
Get Real Friendly with Mobile and AMP
If your site isn’t already responsive, or the mobile version of your site isn’t optimized, time is of the essence. Google will be making the switch to a mobile-first index in 2018, which means it will look at your site’s mobile experience to determine your ranking. Trust us, mobile-first is the “in-crowd” you want to be part of right away.
These days, if you’re ignoring mobile optimization, you’re no longer missing out on just a small subsection of users. You’re now missing out on the majority of people who use the internet. There’s just no room to turn a blind eye to smartphones.
Think about how your mobile site serves up content and how functional it is for users compared to your desktop site, and how to improve that user experience. Alternatively, you can start your plan to build a fully responsive site, if you haven’t already.
One trend to consider for increasing mobile-friendliness: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). These can make your mobile site pages load up to four times as fast. That’s about half a second, as compared to about three seconds for a normal mobile page to load.
There’s no doubt that AMPs will help your site be considered “mobile-first” and improve your rankings. You can try it out with Google’s AMP tutorial, which walks you through each of the six steps.
Grab the Mic on Podcasts
Did you know that 24% of people over the age of 12 in the U.S. listen to a podcast every week?
It’s yet another use of mobile that has exploded in the last few years (two-thirds of all podcasts are heard on a mobile device or tablet), ever since the breakout hit Serial first dropped.
Another stat, one that is even more compelling for digital marketers, is that 85% of podcast audiences listen to all or most of each episode. That stat is astronomical when you think about the way people consume information today, which is usually just by scanning and then quickly bouncing off to the next page.
You really have your audience’s undivided attention through podcasting. That’s why you see the trend everywhere, and it’s why you should consider starting one as part of your content marketing strategy.
Podcasting could be a powerful method for you to share your expertise, especially when you’re already skilled at offering it via other channels like blogging and social media, and if you’re a strong public speaker.
So maybe you’re seriously considering podcasting, or you’ve already begun to record and promote some episodes, but haven’t SEO-optimized them yet.
Here are some key things to think about:
- Use a clear podcast name, and write descriptive episode titles and summaries. Much like traditional SEO tactics, strong naming conventions and meta data are important in helping your target audiences find and subscribe to your podcast. Don’t get too witty when writing the episode titles. It’s better to be clear for search purposes on what each episode is about.
- Smart tags and category labels. Most podcast directories, like iTunes, allow you to select the appropriate category and associated tags. This is where all your ongoing keyword research comes into play.
- Encourage user reviews and ratings. Again, just like the SEO you know and love, user input matters for podcasts. Each time you sign off, include a push for people to rate your podcast and to write reviews to improve your ranking.
If starting your own podcast doesn’t seem doable, think of some related podcasts in your field or industry partners who host them. Then work with them to become a regular guest and ask to help craft the episode titles and summaries with SEO in mind. The episode summary can and should include a link back to your site with lots of strong keywords included.
Take Apps Seriously
Like podcasts, apps are a proven winner on mobile, and they aren’t going anywhere. It’s estimated that this year alone there will have been 200 billion app downloads worldwide. Studies show that people use 9 apps per day, on average.
You might currently have an app for your company or product, or maybe you’re considering building an app. Even if you’re not, though, you need to be mindful of apps that are rapidly becoming your top competition. There are lots of signs that point to apps beating out websites for users and rankings.
App indexing has really changed in the last couple years, allowing for more people to find apps through mobile searches than ever before. Google’s Deep Linking can now rank internal app screens, which can push apps to the top of search results pages, and above your site’s results.
You might have noticed that Google has started suggesting groups of apps in mobile search. This is called an App Pack, a colorful tiled display of Google suggestions for apps based on a user’s search terms.
If you have an app, you’ll want to follow the same principles as we talked about for podcasting, including clear naming and descriptions with relevant keywords, categories and tags, as well as user reviews and ratings. You’ll also want to remember including backlinks to increase authority.
Most importantly, do your research on app competitors for your site and brand. Once you see how they’re SEO-optimizing their apps, you’ll be able to better tweak your keywords and strategies to compete. You might even find that building your own app is the best way to do that.
Don’t Count Out Personal Assistants – AI
Last of all, but certainly not least: don’t discount the rise of digital personal assistants. There’s iPhone’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google Home, not to mention other everyday “smart” appliances and devices that now have personal assistants embedded, like TVs, refrigerators, watches, and more.
These digital helpers are just going to keep becoming more sophisticated over time. They’ll also become increasingly in demand. Forecasts say that voice searches will make up 50% of all searches by 2020.
One big reason to optimize for personal assistants and voice searches? They typically return highly targeted, short lists of results. Often, a voice search gives users 1-4 top-of-page results, and they’re usually geo-targeted, since personal assistants and mobile devices know a user’s location.
Compare that to a web or mobile search results page with millions of results. If you’re one of the select few results that comes up, you’re much more likely to get clicks through to your site.
Remember how people actually talk and ask questions, and reflect this in your SEO strategy. You can also plug your own app into some of these personal assistants using Amazon Skills and Actions on Google.
These technology trends are changing the SEO game, and we’re sure that there will be brand new trends to watch in the next year.
Are you optimizing your SEO for any of the ones we mentioned here? Any others we should know about? Tell us in the comments.