With the digital landscape becoming increasingly competitive, staying at the forefront of content marketing and on-page SEO is more essential than ever in 2017.
In this post, we’ll cover some of the content and SEO strategies we recommend for 2017 because we feel they’ll provide the best results not only this year, but going forward as well.
Don’t Abandon Keyword Research
Building content around topics has been a big discussion over the past year. With Google’s advancing ability to connect phrases and concepts together, many content marketers have said that topics are more important than keywords. The truth is that both are important, but keyword research is more necessary than ever.
Content resources should aim for topical authority. They should cover a topic in depth and provide users with a comprehensive resource in one place when appropriate. This is what the digital marketing world means when they say “focus on topics.” In this sense, they’re absolutely right. But building that resource as effectively as possible to meet the user’s expectations and rank in high enough positions to drive traffic will still rely heavily on keyword research…maybe even more heavily than before.
By doing in-depth keyword research, you discover the depth of the topic you’re going to be writing about. For example, if you were to write an article about the best headphones to buy in 2017, keyword research would guide the content of the article to include:
Types of Headphones
- best in ear headphones
- best on ear headphones
- best over ear headphones
- best noise-canceling headphones
- best wireless headphones
Uses for Headphones
- best headphones for working out
- best headphones for running
- best headphones for gaming
- best headphones for music
- best headphones travel
Headphones with Different Features
- best headphones comfort
- best headphones with mic
- best headphones durable
Headphones at Different Price Points
- best budget headphones
- best headphones under $200
- best headphones under $100
The keyword research above only scratches the surface, but it clearly shows that for a topic like “best headphones,” doing the keyword research to understand what the topic consists of and what needs to be included in the article is essential.
Optimize for Google Featured Snippets
There was a lot of buzz around Google’s featured snippets toward the end of 2016 and going into 2017. There’s good reason for this. As B² Interactive SEO Director Ross Allen wrote in his article about featured snippets, they’re making their way into more search results, so winning “position #0” is a huge deal.
Whenever our website or a client website has been able to capture the featured snippet, we’ve seen major traffic growth and a significant amount of natural inbound links. For example, after we wrote a post on how to use WordPress SEO By Yoast’s focus keyword, we captured the featured snippet for “What is focus keyword?” and our post became the highest trafficked blog post on our website.
We’ve also helped our clients earn featured snippets for question-based searches, and the web traffic results have been similar. In some cases, because pages and posts addressed frequently asked questions, they were the most visible results for searchers doing research for articles of their own, thereby earning natural links on a regular basis as a result.
Researching questions that are commonly asked in search engines and formatting content to fit whatever format Google is currently using to display featured snippets are two major components of capturing snippets. But you also have to create a quality, well-optimized resource. Ranking on the first page is a prerequisite before a featured snippet is even a possibility, so strong keyword research and keyword usage, user-friendly content, and carefully organized and formatted content are all part of the process.
Keep Mobile-First Search in Mind
Google’s pending switch from a desktop-first index to a mobile-first index has much of the SEO world panicking because it will shift the way Google evaluates and ranks websites. Knowing that this change is coming, you should factor it into how content is created for your website, not only from an optimization perspective, but also from a formatting and functionality perspective.
If you have a well-optimized desktop website that’s been fueling a mobile website in search engine results, the bad news is that you’ll need to get all of your desktop on-page optimization to your mobile site ASAP. The good news is that the rules that kept you from using the same content on desktop and mobile should no longer apply. For instance, content behind tabs and accordions will be given the same weight as content that’s front-facing when a page loads, which wasn’t the case in the past.
This shift will allow you to provide information that previously may have been excluded on a mobile site while still maintaining a clutter-free experience for mobile site visitors. That said, it could change the thought process for copywriters and web designers. For example, you might have to make decisions about information that should be immediately seen by site visitors and information that could be moved to a tab or accordion.
Being able to put content back behind tabs and accordions could give us the chance to create more user-friendly content while maintaining all of the SEO value that would’ve been lost going this route in the past. This could be a big opportunity, but it will also challenge the content marketing industry to think even more strategically about the organization and presentation of content.
Those are our big thoughts about the trends and importance aspects of content in 2017. Did we miss anything? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!