Article originally posted on LinkedIn.
To say search engine optimization (SEO) is a hot topic right now would be an understatement. It's normally the first topic of conversation whenever I chat about marketing. SEO is the latest buzz for good reasons, though. This rigorous practice, if done successfully, lists your website in the top-ten listings on major search engines, namely Google, which increases traffic and drives more conversions. A lot of people wonder, though, how does SEO work? While it’s not some mythical, secret formula, it can be puzzling.
Many experienced SEO experts are hesitant to divulge their knowledge, and others consider it a refined art that takes years to master. Needless to say, this doesn’t mean there are not plenty of players in this game that are willing to share their secret sauce.
In a nutshell, SEO mostly involves content, and lots of it. Not just any content, though. Quality long-form content is the best way to feed the Google beast, and as such has earned the first slot in the respective list of SEO trends to follow into 2017.
The following are SEO trendsetters that won’t be going anywhere, anytime soon.
Long-form content is content that spans great length. Typically, minimal content comprises 300 or so words in the body of the content. But long-form content usually expands to at least 750 words or longer. Generally speaking, you’ll want at least 1,000 words of great content to have any hopes of gaining traction in the cluttered Google universe. Here's one we did for Insight that's just over 1200 words.
As the experts at KissMetrics shared, long-form content can even surpass as much as 4,000 words. Yes, with three zeros. Baulking aside, this would more often be found in an e-book or a lengthy guide. And you can bet (everything you have) it would rank, easily, on most major search engines after being indexed.
Of the most popular online marketing trends to follow into 2017, long-form content tops the cake. Since it has to be relevant and quality content, it helps preserve the candidness and efficacy of the top search engine results. It also empowers the search engine algorithms to find and list the relevant feeds and equals the mix of branded results (companies and marketing based pages) with newsfeeds, Wiki entries and scholarly articles.
Trust-based link building
While linking is not the only aspect of SEO, it derives a great portion of it, as Mozexplains. But trends have shifted, in alignment with Google’s never-ending stream of algorithm updates that are intended to curb spam and black hat (banned) search engine marketing practices.
For instance, SEO experts used to gain cheap back links from issuing press releases, something Google stamped out because they were being abused to create black hat back links; a process that’s further clarified by Search Engine Land.
Similarly, guest blogging was another cheap and effective outlet for earning back links, a practice that Google banned when Google executive Matt Cutts oh-so-eloquently hissed, “Stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done.”
But, link building is still valuable. Trusted link building is the trend you will see cross over into 2017. Where sites and businesses, many times blogs, that trust each other send links to one another to earn more trust. This is a great trend, as it will serve to weed out spam-like practices and force SEOs to really think about who they link to and who they accept links from, lest they enjoy a good blacklisting from major search engine results.
Video-enhanced landing pages
Visually enhanced content is another of the most popular SEO trends you will see continue into 2017. Aside from helping you gain social traction from shares, likes and comments, videos do a lot for your landing pages, too. Plus, who doesn’t love a good video (especially tearjerkers with heroic firefighters and a kitten)?
Video-enhanced landing pages give you a higher SEO score because the video adds more clout and meaningfulness to the landing page’s overall quality and trust score. But they also help increase your conversion rates, too. According to Tubular Insights, landing pages that have videos on them have been shown to increase conversion rates by as much as 80%. And to that, I say, “All day, every day!”
Social sharing and logins
Social sharing is an enormous part of SEO. The primary reason is that it increases the popularity of the page. The more popular a particular page is, the more Google deems it relevant. One trend that we will see continue is the social login trend. Not only do social logins increase your follower base, as Social Media Examiner advises, but they also do a lot of good for your SEO as well.
This is because social logins also feed some of the best back links to your landing pages: social links. These links hold high credence in Google’s eyes, and they are easy and nearly free to build. What’s more, socially enhanced landing pages have been found to convert a significantly higher rate than pages that lack social sharing options.
Last, but certainly not least, mobile optimization is a huge trend that will assuredly take center stage in 2017. Earlier this year, Google announced that sites that did not optimize for mobile and follow a stringent checklist would not be favored in search engine results (on mobile devices). With nearly half the internet using world accessing the web from mobile devices, this makes perfect sense.
According to the Wall Street Journal, sites that did not optimize for mobile search saw traffic drops as high as 46%. Meanwhile, sites that did follow the rules enjoyed traffic gains that were as high as 30%. Needless to say, this one is a no-brainer.
Over the months to come, consider these SEO trends the next time you land on a page that you clicked over to from an online search. You may be surprised at how many of them you consistently identify. No doubt, there are plenty of other trends to watch out for but remember: Whatever the Google beast wants, the Google beast gets. And these fab five comprise the most wanted of the bunch.