SEO is of course still the most cost-effective channel for delivering direct B2C sales, but it also has strategic impact beyond this. Here Kevin Lee reminds us that there are 5 ways SEO is strategic in 2017:
The basic tenets of SEO remain the same as they have always done – on-site & off-site optimisation are still both key in equal measure for success in Google – only now the challenge for the SEO practitioner is to be both technically adept and creatively mindful.
Understanding how advances in web technology impact on marketing success requires a good understanding of internet architecture and web development principles which are often lacking in the average marketeer; At the opposite end of the spectrum understanding the how’s and why’s of reputation management as a result of the wide sharing of a prescribed piece of content is invaluable in the fragmented web.
Here are some key areas of change right now:
Structured Data & Schema Mark Up
Google allows additional data from your web pages into it’s results in a way that can give you a competitive edge. Known as Rich Snippets or Microdata various assets can be marked up in the source code of your web page and allow them to be used by Google right in the search results. This can give you a visible lead against the competition.
AI & Machine Learning
Machine learning is where a computer teaches itself how to do something, rather than being taught by humans or following detailed programming. Google Translate has been using AI for translation for some time but its’ success has lead to the growth of a new internal team called Google Brain who are now also working on integrating AI into Google search. Understanding the semantic relationship between data is a key growth area.
Speech Recognition (Apple’s Siri, Facebook’s M, Amazon’s Echo) & The Internet of Things
Part of this integration of course involves spoken search requests, and not only requests made via the Google search box but also via other connected devices. Voice search is obviously a very different method of searching (queries are often much longer and interrelated) and hugely growing area which presents its’ own intricacies that are being integrated into overall search.
RankBrain is Google’s name for a machine-learning artificial intelligence system that’s used to help process its search results. RankBrain represents a more advanced way of measuring relevance, built on teaching machines to discover the relationships between words.
HTTP/2 is on the way
One of Google’s largest points of emphasis is page speed. An understanding of how networking impacts page speed is definitely a must-have to be an effective SEO.
Before HTTP/2 was announced, the HyperText Transfer Protocol specification had not been updated in a very long time. In fact, we’ve been using HTTP/1.1 since 1999. HTTP/2 is a large departure from HTTP/1.1, and I encourage you to read up on it, as it will make a dramatic contribution to the speed of the web.
Mobile & AMP
The default index of results we get in Google is now ‘mobile-first’ which means that we no longer see the order of listings based on what is formatted for desktop browsers. This is a reflection of the fact that we have passed the tipping point and more searches get conducted on mobile than desktop today. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a convenient shortcut for publishers who appreciate that users want content served quickly. Knowing how to deliver this gives you an edge in Google’s algorithm.