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5 Trends to Watch in Search Engine Optimization

Meta: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is always evolving. Here are five key trends including a focus on mobile and quality content that point to where SEO may be going next.

If you think Farmer is a dusty guy in overalls and Panda is an adorable but clumsy bear, you may not have been paying close attention to changes in Google that have caused seismic shifts in search engine optimization in recent years. SEO is a bit of an arms race, with Google constantly improving their algorithms and marketers trying to stay one step ahead. To ensure that your website doesn’t seem a dip in traffic it’s important to keep these SEO trends in mind and to adjust your digital marketing strategy accordingly.

The Return of Quality Content

While there will always be a place for bite-sized content that shares easily across platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, it looks like one chapter in SEO is starting to close. Say goodbye to thin, short-form content.

Jayson DeMers of Forbes calls it “Dense Content,” and it charts a middle ground between short-but-vapid and informative-but-epic. The aim, rather than hitting a specific word count, should be creating content that’s the right length and crams a lot of information into that space. Quality matters.

Cross-Channel Marketing

The days when getting found was a matter of being visible on Google are long gone. There’s been a digital diaspora that’s found customers migrating to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram. To be found, you need to be visible where they are. That means marketing via multiple channels, and also means tailoring your message to the medium.

There’s a fringe benefit to this. Even if it does nothing for your SEO (which won’t be the case), it’ll still help your traffic. It’s axiomatic but true that the best way to do well with Google is not to need Google. The more channels you use, the more visible you’ll be. That makes it easier for both Google and (more importantly) your customers to find you.

Mobile Search

In some ways, this is old news. Mobile devices have been stealing screen time from desktops and laptops for years, and recently reached parity with traditional devices. However, looking around us, it seems like many of you missed the memo. To be clear: Google will penalize your site for poor mobile compatibility and agonizing load times. Ensure that your site is compatible with, and optimized for, a variety of platforms.

Voice Search

Popular devices like Cortana, Google Now, Alexa, and Siri are still in their infancy, but they’re already quite popular. This poses challenges — not least of which is how best to optimize for a new kind of search — but also a significant potential upside for businesses that put the time and effort into getting it right.

Semantic Search

If you’ve ever come across a page written in tortured English, with phrases few humans would ever write or speak, you’ve probably encountered someone trying to rank for specific keywords. Keywords still count, but their exact order doesn’t matter like it used to. Semantic search tries to divine the intent behind search phrases.

So, for instance, typing “tickets Yankees” would return the same results as “Yankees tickets.” Since we talk to our devices, answer questions in your content. The good news is that you no longer need to resort to second-guessing every last grammatical error that might bring you traffic. The bad news? You should probably clean up your site copy, since Google penalizes poor-quality content, and so will your readers.

Is there a single takeaway that ties these predictions together? Absolutely, and you may not like it: stop optimizing your site for yourself and your business. Design, write, and market to people, not an algorithm. Your customers already know what’s in it for you (their hard-earned money). Instead, show them what’s in it for them. Answer their questions, anticipate their needs, and give them something they can use.

Now the good news: you don’t have to go it alone. HV Social Media uses the best practices to help with your local SEO!

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