February 13, 2017 by James Roberts
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Strategies and Tactics Marketers Should Focus on in 2017
At a recent company off-site, a team member asked, “what’s our official position on SEO?” I have to admit, I’m a pretty big SEO skeptic, and I immediately and instinctively reacted by saying, “I think SEO is dead.”
Of course that’s not true, at least not completely. Search engines are still ranking pages, and they’re still using algorithms to do it. That being the case, I think the better questions are; should you be spending money on SEO consultants to boost your site and page rankings? And, if so, what should those consultants be doing to give you the best value?
Ultimately, I’ve concluded that SEO is not in fact, completely dead. There are areas where marketers can wisely spend dollars by focusing their energies to increase SERP ranking and increase site traffic with or without a paid consultant.
First, you have to understand why SEO is a tricky business to be in.
Google, Yahoo, and Bing continue to work hard to fight against web spam and black hat tactics to improve their user’s experience. They also continue to change their ranking algorithms at a constant rate because, let’s be honest, they’re self-interested.
By dis-incentivizing companies to know exactly how to rank high, it helps them make a lot of money through pay-per-click advertising.
The result of these changes has been dramatic. Many of the tactics used in the early days – key word stuffing, paid back links, comment and forum spams, and others are largely ineffective. More often than not, sites that present well and rank highly are sites that are correctly optimized, have high quality content, and have high usability.
So, what SEO strategies and tactics should marketers be focused on in 2017?
Block and Tackle SEO Strategies Can Still Deliver.
Making your website ready for search engines is still an effective strategy to boost rankings and traffic. There are three tactics that every company should implement in an effort to improve their visibility to search engines:
- Have a mobile friendly site.
- Optimize your site to load faster.
- Use META tags properly to boost your rankings.
High Quality Content is King. One big factor in achieving better page rankings is the quality of the content on your site. There are several ways to think about this, but I like to put myself in the shoes of a potential user rather than trying to create content to please search engines. So, how do you do that? Users want access to unique content and they want access to content that is useful and provides them value. If your site has high quality content, it will attract and engage users, and it will perform well with search engines.
Search engines are also drawn to new content. Frequently updating your website with new content can increase page rankings, but you still need to apply the user test. New content needs to be high quality, interesting and relevant. High quality content also drives high quality backlinks. Google and other search engines still factor backlinks as a factor in page rankings, but spammy backlink strategies like PBNs (Private Blog Networks) can do more harm than good.
Effective marketers are going to focus on users and the content they want as opposed to search engines and trying to trick rankings.
Our advice for clients going forward is to focus on developing new, fresh, relevant content, and to develop integrated strategies to publish that content on their owned digital assets (web sites, email, social, UGC sites, etc.). These developed content assets can come in many forms, from blog posts to videos.
As the old saying goes – “the customer (or in this case the user) is always right”.