Search engines, such as Google, are always tweaking their algorithms to help the searcher find exactly it is that they're looking for. Long gone are the days where keyword stuffing got you site ranking, and the core idea now is delivering content that is relevant to your audience. It's gone from a technical point to a very human point - and these 5 key factors for your SEO in 2017 all deliver something important to your human users.
These days people have less patience when it comes to waiting for a website to load. If it takes too long the likelihood is they'll leave and go somewhere else. Speed could be costing you sales.
Let's face it, in Australia our Internet is poor, so we have to work a bit harder to make our websites fast. This includes making sure your developer understands how to optimise the speed of a site - including things like the appropriate sizing of imagery (5MB images are not acceptable), caching and code compression (all too technical but things that should be done).
It has been a good couple of years since "mobilegeddon" where Google publicly announced they were going to favour mobile friendly websites in their search results. Since then a lot of websites have been updated to use responsive design techniques (mobile friendly design) but there are still sites out there that haven't.
Users (aka your potential customers) expect that they can access and interact with your website which ever way best works for them, not the other way around, so having a website that provides the same content and experience on all devices is no longer an option - it's a requirement. There have been many stats flying around over the past few years but mobile browsing (and shopping) is rising every year, so if your website isn't mobile friendly not only will it be harder to find, but those that do find you will often leave feeling unsatisfied.
Focused, good quality content
It has been said in the SEO world for years now that "content is king", and it is still true today. The main goal of search engines is to provide sites to visitors that gives them the content they want quickly and easily.
While there are lots of different factors that search engines like Google use to rank a site, and their algorithms are constantly evolving, content would still be the number one area they focus on. Gone are the days where you could just "stuff" keywords into some hidden page of your site, or at the bottom of the page with white text on a white background - Google is smarter than that.
Make sure the content on your website is well written, doesn't go overboard with keywords and most importantly provides your target audience with what they need.
User Experience is all about focusing on the visitor to your website, how they interact with your site and ensuring that the time they spend on your site is both pleasant and productive.
The speed at which visitors can navigate, read and find what they're looking for on your site plays a big role in making your site successful. If your site isn't designed with this in mind, you may end up forcing your visitors to think too much and ultimately make them leave.
Search engines are getting smarter and have evolved to the point where they collect data from your website to help them understand visitor behaviour so providing a good user experience is more important than ever.
Use HTTPS (SSL)
You may have noticed recently that certain web browsers (such as Firefox and Google Chrome) have started to indicate that sites not using https are insecure. While technically your site might not be insecure, what it does mean is that any communication between your computer and the website is not secure, and if you fill in a contact form or login to the website that data is not secure. If a hacker is looking they could potentially access those details. Running your site on https secures the connection between the web browser and your server, and is a factor that search engines consider for your ranking - it will certainly help with visitor confidence to see your site is secure.