Search engines come and go, but Google remains the undisputed king of search — and ranking well on Google is key to business success. But that success depends on staying one step ahead of Google’s constantly changing algorithms. With Google’s latest updates in mind, here are five tips for better ranking on the world’s biggest search engine in 2017.
What’s New on Google?
Google’s frequent changes to its search algorithms often leave business users mystified and frustrated, but those changes are aimed at boosting the quality of web content and improving the experience of users everywhere. Emerging Google SEO trends for 2017 and beyond include a growing emphasis on the quality of the content a site posts, a site’s overall user experience, mobile responsiveness, and the use of metadata and keywords that reflect actual search queries.
1. Go Above and Beyond Content Marketing
In 2017 and beyond, Google is looking for exceptional content that provides maximum value to users and responds directly to their search queries. Standard content marketing can still help a site’s rankings, but thought leadership in the form original, in-depth treatment of relevant topics will drive rankings more than typical content that covers the topic superficially.
To boost Google rankings, create unique, informative articles and webpages that respond directly to search terms or questions and include a call to action that leads users to a real benefit.
2. Aim for Fewer, Better Links
Inbound links have always played a key role in boosting a site’s Google rankings, but Google keeps a close eye on the source and number of those links. In keeping with the trend toward quality over quantity, Google now focuses on whether inbound links are organic and come from trusted, ranking sites. Too many links, or links from questionable sources, can hurt, rather than help, rankings.
Instead of collecting a lot of mediocre links, concentrate on building link relationships with a few reputable, well-ranking sites in your field or industry and maintain them on the site.
3. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
For the first time, Google now places mobile search ahead of desktop searches when indexing sites. Optimizing all aspects of a site for a mobile user experience not only increases accessibility, but also boosts its visibility and ranking in Google.
Make sure your site is mobile-responsive and optimized for use on mobile-size screens. Google now backs an open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, or AMP, that helps pages load quickly on mobile devices.
4. Optimize Visuals for Search
Creating keyword-rich content and adding relevant metadata to a web page are routine SEO practices, but it’s equally important to pay attention to making visual content searchable. As video, slideshows and images take up more and more web space, these kinds of content now have more weight in Google’s rankings than ever before.
To improve searchability, make sure all visual content includes alt text, captions, metadata and search query keywords. If you post video or slides, be sure to include a transcript or keyword-rich summary.
5. Maximize User Experience
Along with original, valuable content, the quality of a site’s appearance, navigation and organization are now important aspects of Google’s ranking algorithms. Slow, cluttered sites with broken links and annoying popups drive users away and damage credibility, and so do sites with content that isn’t directly related to what users are searching for.
To improve Google rankings, check your site’s speed and be sure all links are working. Make navigation easy to find and use, and change the titles and metadata of your pages to reflect search queries.
Google is the most used search engine in the world, and its constant changes aim to improve the quality of website offerings of all kinds. With smart SEO strategies, including high-level content and user-friendly sites, businesses of all sizes can rank better on Google in 2017 and beyond.