SEO Tips in 2017
Yes, it’s that time of year again…the kids are back in school, Halloween is right around the corner, and the end of the year will be her in a few short months. And with the end of the year will be coming yet more changes from Google, or as they are now known, Alphabet. Regardless of the name change, it’s always the big “G” that we keep our eyes on. The reason being, some 80% of the world’s search engine traffic goes through their data centers. And when they make a change, we’re ready to pivot our strategies as well. The most successful SEO companies, like Kansas City SEO Group – make sure that they are always in the know about what’s going on. Great SEO starts with giving Google, Yahoo and Bing what they want. So with that in mind, here’s what we think will be relevant in the coming year.
Keywords versus a user’s intent
When the search engines were starting out, and processing power wasn’t what it is today, it was enough to have the right keywords sprinkled throughout your website to attract attention. If you ran a car wash for example, you’d want to include words like “car wash”, “neighborhood car wash”, “car soap”, “clean car”, and so on. However, now that processing power has increased, and the big three search engines have years of history to look back on, things are changing. It’s more likely that you’ll have people using more natural language being used when looking for a product or service. So for the car wash example, you’d likely be better off putting content into your website describing the car wash’s features, how close it is to someone’s home, that it is new, etc. We’re going to see a shift in this even further as voice recognition gets better, and people will simply talk to Google or Alexa from Amazon to get answers to their questions.
When SEO first started to emerge, everyone talked about links. And most of that talk was about the number of links that one had, both inbound and outbound to a site. It really didn’t matter how good they were, how relevant, or if the content on the other end was good. As they used to say “the more links you have, the better”. Remember how there used to be images at the bottom of pages showing link sharing rings or link sharing networks that a site was participating in? That strategy is no longer in use, and for good reason. If you own a bakery, you need to ensure that you have relevant links both inbound and outbound. You might want to include links to a famous baking personality like the guy that runs Charm City Cakes. You might want to include links both to and from a site that sells baking supplies, or maybe a kitchen that teaches baking classes to the local community. What you don’t want are links to generic sites, or those that aren’t relevant to your business or product. So no linking your bakery site to that having to do with hunting big games in Africa! If you’re curious why we’re making such an example here, give us a call. We’ve seen some pretty interesting (but incredibly wrong) approaches to link building on sites. When you work with us, we’ll ensure your content matches your links, both those that are incoming and those that are outbound.
Page Load Times
We saw more focus on this in late 2015, and then again this Spring in 2016. We noted that Google was rewarding or penalizing sites depending on how fast a page would load in a number of browsers, and how fast it would load on mobile devices. In fact, in the first few months of 2016 we told all of our clients that mobile compatibility would become a very important part of their SEO strategy, and we were right. There was a period of time named “Mobilegeddion” as we saw sites lose rankings – sometimes by a full page or two – simply because they were not mobile friendly. Kansas City SEO, like the strategies that we provide to our clients – always include page load times. We provide guidance on this as we know that Google, Yahoo and Bing are looking to see how fast a page loads up. A page that loads fast has been optimized, and it shows that a service, product or company is taking their website presence seriously. You might have seen a trend to include moving images or a movie on a site’s homepage. Notable examples of this are Air BnB and PayPal. Interestingly enough, they are going against the grain of good search engine optimization. You do not want to make a front page heavy with images, video, or moving text. You want the page to be very lightweight and load fast. Wondering how your page fares? You can self-test by entering your website here: https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights
Contrary to popular belief, Google will in fact tell you what they’re looking for so that your site will rank well. This is just one of the many tools that they make available to you, so that you are able to provide Google (and other search engines) what they’re looking for.
HTTPS versus HTTP
This has been a very hot topic starting at the end of last year, and especially this year. Google themselves have had open forum discussions, workshops, and provided guidance on the move from http to https. If you’re not familiar with the difference, let us explain. It used to be that most all pages on the Internet were http, which is “unsecure” vs those like online banking, which are secure and use “https”. HTTPS is now by default, the preferred protocol for any website, be it new or old. As part of your ranking strategy, we’re happy to talk with you about moving your website to be using https instead of http. In fact, Google had this to say about preferring https over http, and you can read more about it here:
“HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) is an internet communication protocol that protects the integrity and confidentiality of your users’ data between the user’s computer and the site. For example, when a user enters data into a form on your site in order to subscribe to updates or purchase a product, HTTPS protects that user’s personal information between the user and the site. Users expect a secure online experience when providing data via a website. We encourage you to adopt HTTPS in order to protect your users’ connection to your website. Data sent using HTTPS is secured via Transport Layer Security protocol (TLS), which provides three key layers of protection: Encryption—encrypting the exchanged data to keep it secure from eavesdroppers. That means that while the user is browsing a website, nobody can “listen” to their conversations, track their activities across multiple pages, or steal their information. Data integrity—data cannot be modified or corrupted during transfer, intentionally or otherwise, without being detected. Authentication—proves that your users communicate with the intended website. It protects against man-in-the-middle attacks and builds user trust, which translates into other business benefits”.