Very much like in the real world, the world of the internet and SEO in general, changes at an alarming speed (perhaps even more so than the real world, to be fair!) For ecommerce businesses – any slow reactions could potentially prove to be a disaster in terms of strengthening their presence online, as the quality of technology, not to mention users, continues to grow and improve.
With the latter half of 2016 upon us – people will be starting to prepare their digital strategies for 2017, in order to maintain their knowledge and keep their websites at the top of a search engines' search results. With many companies now relying on the internet for 100% of their business, it's probably never been as crucial that they are up-to-date and aware of the trends in online behaviour. To be sure of making their mark online, many ecommerce businesses have turned to a digital marketing agency to help them achieve their goals. Able to advise on best practices and methods to constantly improve output, these agencies have proven to be a vital tool for ecommerce business to use.
Some aspects of online behaviour that changes regularly and need to be managed effectively include;
- Customer's usage and expectations will be constantly changing and websites need to think about what their visitors want from their website. Is the website attractive enough? Does it contain compelling content that is regularly updated and will keep them coming back? Is it quick enough for them to scroll through?
- Google's algorithm which keeps website administrators abreast of any adjustments they may have to make, will be regularly changing. The algorithm is important to look at, as it is that what sets the regulations for websites to be able to rank.
- Being complacent will hurt a website's ranking . This will be dangerous if you rely on search engines for people to be able to find you – extremely worrying if you run a business online. With the constant changes in SEO, a website could fall down the rankings as quickly as it rose up them.
- SEO techniques . With 93% of all online experiences starting with a visit to a search engine, knowing the latest SEO techniques will be paramount to the success of any website. With various different elements, it's vitally important that all of them are exploited to be able to meet Google's algorithm.
Looking back – to look forward.
As we head into the latter end of 2016, a good way of predicting what may come next year is by looking what trends and developments we've seen this year. By looking at the changes made and the trends in the behaviour of online users, we are able to make a plan of how these new developments will progress and improve – giving us a great opportunity to plan ahead of time, increasing the chances of promoting a website further up the rankings.
With that in mind, here are some of the trends that we've noticed have been important at this stage of the year, as we start to prepare for 2017.
Schema markup is a code that, when placed on your website, helps the search engines to return more informative results for users. Also making it easier for search engines to understand a website, so that the search displays the site correctly, Schema can also be very helpful when Google decides to display 'rich answers', such as Quick Answers or a Rich Card. Google likes to display answers that make it easier for users to find what they're looking for.
- Rich cards are displayed for recipes, videos, AMP (accelerated mobile page) articles, local businesses, music, reviews and TV & movies. Although the potential for this to include websites of others natures in the future is quite high, so using Schema is the best way to ensure that your site is always ready.
- Quick Answers has also seen a growth – from just over 22% in December 2014 to over 40% by the start of 2016. Schema can help to make the purpose and content of your site clear, making the text more appealing for snippet boxes on a search engines' page.
We can't talk about 2017 SEO trends without mentioning the continued rise of artificial intelligence and Google's self-learning algorithm, 'RankBrain'. Since this type of 'machine learning' is now Google's third-most important ranking factor, businesses need to be sure that their websites are designed easy enough for the machine to understand. Schema helps to make this possible, which will give your site a huge boost for when this method comes around. With no doubt in the continued growth of artificial intelligence, utilising Schema can help to keep your website ready for what the future may bring!
Breaking down barriers - with hybridisation.
As online users become increasingly more sophisticated, not to mention the constant demands of digital marketing start to draw more and more professionals closer, it's clear that businesses need to start breaking down the barriers that separate their digital marketing departments. Today, mobile phone users can access e-mail messages, desktop users are able to redeem social media coupons and people who find your site by clicking on your Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads, expect a user experience that is consistent with the majority of websites that they visit. So everything in your operation needs to be able to be combined in a hybrid campaign.
To be able to reach these customers, it's expected that at least 8 out of 10 digital marketers worldwide will be running a hybrid campaign and everyone needs to be ready. Digital marketing agencies recommend that ecommerce businesses should constantly do the following, to be able to keep up with current and future trends;
- Hold regular training sessions where you can help different members of different teams to know each other's objectives and strategies.
- Build collaborative projects between the different teams in which the members can come together to achieve their joint aims.
- Develop documents between the different teams that can define vocabulary, expectations and each other's roles, so that everyone will be able to know what each other is doing, which will make the lines of communication much easier.
Search Engine Research Pages (or SERP's) have been the subject of some experimentation by Google during the previous 12 months. More specifically, Google has been increasing the number of characters that are allowed in some of the meta descriptions and titles. This particular trend has been a somewhat tricky challenge for marketers to take advantage of, because the changes haven't been rolled out to all websites, nor has Google announced whether they will be made a permanent change.
However, for sites that are able to take advantage of the changes, this represents a great opportunity to include more keywords and more interesting descriptions to help to get users to visit the website.
To take advantage of these changes, you should consider:
- Using your main keyword at the beginning of your title and meta description, just in case you are restricted to the old character limit.
- Using extra space to expand your description.
- If your meta descriptions are less than 100 characters, be sure to increase them to avoid your description from being hidden with the new limits.
Intent signals and SEM alignment.
Due to searches with a commercial intent displaying a higher number of adverts at the top of their pages than other non-commercial searches - click-through-rates will be lower for organic search results. This means that it's vital in retaining a knowledge of which terms have the organic search results on the first page of the visible search results, without you having to scroll down (commonly known as 'above the fold').
It's important to also understand what content is currently ranking for the keywords you wish to target and then aligning this with content. This is Social Media Alignment (SEM) and it will help you to plan and map a strategy in which to create your pages to what people are searching for. Equally, for the topics where the search results have fewer adverts, organic search teams should take a lead in trying to identify which content is needed and the how to produce high-quality online experiences that will work to attract and eventually convert, more customers.
Speed of Mobile Optimisation.
Ever since Google first introduced the Accelerated Mobile Pages project towards the end of 2015, the value of speed that mobile devices are able to browse at, has kept on growing. It's always been known by Google that slow load times will damage a user's experience, which is why even a delay of a single second results in an automatic 7% reduction in conversions. Due to AMP, Google is able to reach out and stress the importance of browsing speed on a mobile-optimised website. The format of the AMP will take away what it sees as 'needless extras' of a website, which will help it to load much faster. According to Google, an AMP-implemented website can improve its loading speeds anywhere from 15 to 85%.
Micro moments is another growing aspect that has been growing in prominence on mobile browsers. A 'micro moment' is a term used to describe the reflexes of a user when browsing their phone. These reflexes are something that only requires a glance to identify what the content is and the speed of the delivery of its information, so a user can either consume or act on it.
These acts could be defined in the following categories;
- The 'I want to know more' moments
- The 'I want to go' moments
- The 'I want to buy' moments
- The 'I want to do' moments
- And so on...
Recently, aside from its original task of serving those 'I want to know' moments (the AMP project was created initially for news sites), AMP has started to spread its influence to the 'I want to buy' moments, with eBay optimising millions of its pages for ecommerce users. When online businesses are able to answer these questions and fulfil users with their needs, is when they are able to provide an optimal mobile experience, which will only work to improve the website's reputation and up its conversion rate.
Even if your website doesn't utilise AMP, you will still be affected by the constant increasing expectations of users, who will expect all sites to be as fast as those that use AMP. As speed becomes more-and-more dominant it will become vital for businesses to shorten their website's loading times.
To be sure that your business is ready, you should consider the following;
- Avoid using unnecessary images, videos and graphics that will slow down the loading of the page. Scale down the images best you can, even saving them into a different format (for example a .bmp image will be a bigger file size than a .jpg image, so will take longer to load).
- Keep cookies that are only essential – having too many will significantly slow down the website.
- Compress your website – much like the changing of file types of your images, many elements on a website can be changed without losing their impact and still provide a fast browsing experience.
Whatever trends play out, SEO in 2017 will no doubt be as surprising and exciting as it's ever been in the past. Businesses will need to start putting plans in place now to start to take advantage of the coming trends to help their cause to improve.
Promote – Experts In Search Engine Optimisation and Digital Marketing.
Here at Promote we are a digital marketing agency who offers help and assistance to our online brands that is looking for help with Search Engine Optimisation. Aside from our SEO services, we are also able to offer specialist SEO training courses as well as other aspects of digital marketing.
Vastly knowledgeable and experienced, our experts will go the extra mile to help you to learn how to get the maximum potential out of your website. For more information on how we can help, please feel free to contact us on 0845 050 2500 or send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org