7 SEO trends to consider for 2017 in simple terms

search engine optimisation niki peach design

Guest Blog by Lisa Vassallo of One To Three

Lisa Vassallo is co-owner of One To Three (www.onetothree.co.uk) who offer flexible and cost effective marketing solutions to small and medium businesses across the UK. Lisa has significant experience in raising a company’s profile online through digital marketing, specialising in social media strategy and Search Engine Optimisation. She has a particular passion in analysing how a website is performing and making recommendations for improvement. Lisa has a proven track record in vastly improving company profiles on search engines such as Google. Lisa worked in the IT industry for 11 years and has a further 11 years experience as a freelance marketing consultant.

Lisa Vassallo is co-owner of One To Three (www.onetothree.co.uk)

At a recent marketing mastermind group, I was asked to provide an update on the latest industry SEO news and things to look out for in the year ahead. Here’s what I shared and some points to consider if you are thinking about your website rankings in 2017:

1. HTTPS V HTTP

Google and many others want the web to be more secure, which has to be a good thing. This tweet in particular caught our attention:

Put simply, Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is the secure version of HTTP, the protocol over which data is sent between your browser and the website that you are connected to. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’. It means all communications between your browser and the website are encrypted. Traditionally ecommerce sites and any sites where you enter payment details or personal details have been HTTPS sites. However, there is now a move towards secure sites across the web.

Since June 2014, when Google called for “HTTPS Everywhere”, SEO specialists have been arguing about the pros and cons of HTTPS sites when it comes to Google rankings.

More recently, Thao Tran from Google said in October 2016, “HTTPS and making sure your site is secure is an imperative at this point… Google will start marking things non-secure…The future of the web is a secure one, and so make sure people in your organization understand HTTPS, and it should be on the road map” for 2017. Basically, a small part of your search rankings will be based on the security of your website.

At the moment, this only impacts a very small percentage of global queries. However, I definitely think this is one to watch in 2017 and if you are starting your site from scratch, get a secure site. If you wish to move to HTTPS, please speak to your web developer and the host of your website.

2. Long form content

Content continues to be king on the Internet and you should aim to keep your website updated with fresh, interesting content.

If content is King then engagement is Queen! Encourage debate, ask questions and allow your audience to engage with your posts. Long form content has various definitions, but most people agree anything between 1,200 – 2,000 words is long form content for a blog post.

Blogs are a great way to keep adding new content to your website, but you should consider your keywords within the blog and also ensure your posts are a decent length. However, don’t become too preoccupied with the word count, instead focus on the needs of your reader. If you have a lot of content to share in one post that’s great, but sometimes you only need to share a short, sharp burst of information. To give you an idea, this blog post is just over 1,200 words long.

Furthermore, ensure you are making the most of your blogs, by considering which keywords you would like to be found for and ensuring you update the meta title and meta description PER blog post. Remember that the meta title should be between 50-70 characters and the meta description should be no longer than 156 characters (including spaces and punctuation). Having the keywords in the title and the first paragraph will also help your case with SEO.

If you generate good, interesting, relevant content, people will link back to your site and backlinks will continue to play a role in SEO. The best advice here is to grow your links organically.

3. AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages

Speed is going to be an important factor in 2017. Accelerated Mobile Pages project (AMP) is a relatively new Google initiative to build a better, more user friendly mobile Web by introducing a new “standard” for building web content for mobile devices. Accelerated Mobile Pages load instantly and improve the end user experience. Ever since its launch in search results in February 2016, AMP has been in the SEO news. In simple terms, pages that load quickly are going to be a must-have in the future.

Mobile friendly sites have been big news for a while now and of course this will continue to be the case for 2017. Think mobile friendly and speed for your websites in 2017.

4. End User Experience

The end user experience continues to be of upmost importance. Encourage your users to stay on your site for longer and reduce your bounce rate. The trick is once you capture an audience, to keep them on the site, so if you are attracting your audience through your blog, ensure you have links to other relevant pages to your website from your blog.

Remember to use Google Analytics to track your bounce rate and the time spent on your site. You can also use Google Analytics to work out which pages of your site are turning your clients off and where they are leaving your site.

5. Optimising for voice search

Voice search is growing at an incredible speed, so think about providing answers to specific questions.

A featured snippet — also known as a “rich answer” or “direct answer” — is a summary answer to a searcher’s question that Google shows in a special block at the top of the page. It usually comes with a link back to your site, which has great traffic-attracting potential.

Create a piece of content that directly answers a question e.g. “How do I share a post from one Facebook business page to another business page?” Make sure to include the question itself, and a direct answer to it. Again, this is all about content and providing answers to questions that may attract a new audience.

6. Relevance of local search

Everybody who has worked with me will know the importance I place on local search, and as more and more websites are flooding the Internet and with the increase in mobile sites, I think this will be an area of growing importance in 2017. Think about the areas where your clients are based and where you want to work.

Also remember the importance of an up-to-date Google My Business listing. Reviews are really important and encourage your clients to leave reviews on your Google My Business listing and be sure to reply to these reviews.

7. Longtail keywords

Longtail keywords are basically a phrase rather than a single keyword. If I’m searching for “shoes” I’m just browsing. If I’m searching for “Black patent shoes with a kitten heel, size 5” this is a longtail keyword phrase and I’m ready to make a purchase.

I always tell our clients it is better to attract fewer visitors to your website who are likely to convert into customers, than thousands of visitors who only spend a few seconds on the site.

Think about more specific keyword searches, related to you and your business to attract the right kind of visitors to your site. If you only want to work in a certain area or are offering events or training courses in a certain place, then geographic keywords are a must.

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Understanding Meta Data

Metadata is all the information about a page that you send to a search engine that isn’t visible to your visitors.

There seems to be some misunderstanding about this, as most of the articles I read about SEO metadata seem to imply that it’s just the title, description, keywords and robots declaration in the of your website. Others feel social media declarations like Open Graph tags should be considered metadata as well. W3C states that “The element represents various kinds of metadata that cannot be expressed using the title, base, link, style, and script elements.” That means all these elements from meta to link and script are in fact metadata.

The obvious metadata elements

There are a couple of elements that obviously are metadata elements. You may have already heard of these.

Meta title

The title element is the main title of a page, represented by the 'title' element.

This is probably the most important element for SEO. Adding the right title to your pages can still have a direct influence on your ranking. Make sure to include the main keyword (or: focus keyword) at the beginning, and end your 'title' with your company or website name for branding.

The preferred length of your 'title' might vary based on the most-used device people use to view your website, but a rule of thumb is that we have to keep a viewable limit in mind these days. An example: if you have lots of mobile visitors, go for a shorter title. It’s as simple as that.

Meta description

The meta description used to be the short description or summary of the page at hand.

In the old days, it helped Google to tell what the page was about. These days, Google simply reads the entire page and the meta description has become a suggestion for the text displayed in Google’s search result pages. Therefore the content on your page is REALLY important.

Meta keywords

Forget about meta keywords now. They’re just used for tags on some social sites. If you’ve heavily optimized your meta keywords, for instance by stuffing it with your focus keyword Bing will consider this spammy. I can relate to that. The influence of meta keywords has become close to zero (and zero for Google).

This is not all when it comes to metadata, but it might help you understand a little bit about the content that you need to be thinking about when writing the copy for your website.

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Kai Communications

Kai Communications online brochure website

Website design and build

Indtech gave me a challenge of wanting something different. Originally their idea was a website with moving cogge elements. The design I came up with combined a different element with moving video in the background and turning cogges but keeps the function so that it can work as a business website.

You can visit the website at www.indtech-service.co.uk

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Indtech

Indtech brochure website oxford

Website design and build

Indtech gave me a challenge of wanting something different. Originally their idea was a website with moving cogge elements. The design I came up with combined a different element with moving video in the background and turning cogges but keeps the function so that it can work as a business website.

You can visit the website at www.indtech-service.co.uk

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Databasix

Databasix data consultancy website with online e-learning

Website design and build & online courses

Databasix are a data consultancy helping companies make sure that they are doing the right thing with their data collection. They wanted a new website where they could sell and run online courses in data protection. They already had a good brand established which I translated into a website look and feel.

You can visit the website at www.dbxuk.com

Working with Niki on the Databasix UK website was a truly fab experience. Niki’s approach to our website design was fun, creative and challenged us to really think about the look and feel that we were looking to achieve. She really took the time to understand our set of requirements for a fun and funky website. During the design process we were provided with mock-ups via a test website and was quickly able to suggest changes. The whole transition from test to live was seemless and I loved the hands on training on how we could manage the website. I would highly recommend Niki Peach Designs.Kellie Peters Data Rockstar & Chief Executive Databasix UK Ltd
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RKA & D

RKA & D architect website

Website design and build

RKA + D was a new business start up when we first met. The brand and logo had already been established so I worked with RKA + D to design a look and feel and build the website. They wanted a clean simple look to showcase the work that they had done in the past and attract new clients. The result is a simple, clean, modern brochure website.

You can visit the website at www.rkaandd.co.uk

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Mill View Garden Centre

Mill View Garden Centre Website

Website design and build

Mill View Garden Centre are a local garden centre based in Wheatley Oxford. This was a new website and the look and feel had to reflect the logo and changes they have made in the business. They had built a new coffee shop so the website was to advertise this and the other features on the site, like birds of prey. Built in WordPress they can update themselves adding special offers that they are running. A news / blog section also keeps customers up to date on news and events.

You can visit the website at www.millviewgardencentre.co.uk

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Sunnyhill Vineyard

Sunnyhill Vineyard, logo and website creation

Logo, branding and website design and build.

Sunnyhill Vineyard are family run located in Horspath in the heart of South Oxfordshire 3.5 miles east of the centre of Oxford.  They produce red and white wine, sparkling wine and cider.  I have had the pleasure of working with them from the start on the total look and feel of the website and the wine labels.  We first started with the wine labels and from this the look and feel of the website.  At the moment the website is just simple brochure site as the aim is to build audience and raise awareness of the vineyard. When they are ready to sell the wine we will be introducing an online sales element to the website.  Below you can see the main logo which is used on the white wine label and the website.  I have also included a picture of the wine bottles so you can see how the design changes depending on what the product is.

Sunnyhill Vineyard logo creation

The website is built in WordPress so that it can be updated regularly by Sunnyhill Vineyard.  I also helped with set up and branding of all social media that they are using.

You can visit the website at www.sunnyhillvineyard.co.uk

Thank you Niki for creating and designing our wine labels and website. Niki really knows how to get it right, which shows in our website and wine labels. Niki has been very helpful and supportive through out We look forward to working together in the future.Ilir Kebej owner of Sunnyhill Vineyard
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Square Carpentry

Square Carpentry brochure website

Mobile Friendly Website Design & Build

Square Carpentry wanted a website to showcase their work and services. The new site is simple and modern and built in WordPress for ease of updating. The website is mobile friendly, an essential thing these days with the increase on mobile phone usage for browsing the internet.

You can visit the website at www.squarecarpentry.co.uk/

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