Many law firms believe that if they don’t have an endless reservoir of funds to devote to a marketing budget, that they just can’t make that first page of Google search results. This is not true. Search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is all about staying one step ahead of your competition, and exhaustively studying the latest trends (or hiring someone who does). Many marketing firms rest on their laurels. But SEO strategy is a science that is constantly evolving. Your marketing team needs to chase these developments relentlessly.
Here are some of the top trends in SEO strategy that can help your firm’s visibility in 2017:
USER EXPERIENCE OPTIMIZATION (UEO)
Google favors sites that load quickly, particularly on mobile devices. Recently, Google has started tracking the amount of time visitors spend on a page to ascertain whether they are enjoying their experience. One of the key ways Google will assess user experience in 2017 is through Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs). AMPs are probably the biggest things in SEO right now. AMPs are an open-source protocol that allow webmasters to create pages that load instantly on smart phones. Google has already started favoring sites that have switched over to AMPs. This is only expected to increase in 2017. Google’s Adam Greenberg recently tweeted that “Google now links to AMP pages in all its search results, which shows the project is now pretty central to the company’s plans.”
Late last year, Google released RankBrain, forging new frontiers by introducing algorithmic machine learning to the mainstream. An extension of Google Hummingbird, it studies how users phrase conversational queries, and reacts. We may even see this kind of artificial intelligence in data interpretation and marketing automation.
The quality of the content on your website/blog is critical to boosting your rank, thanks to Google’s Panda algorithm. But what kind of content are search engines looking for? It used to be that brief, keyword-laden pieces were thought to assist visibility. Then, the pendulum swung the other way, and there was a surge in long content that exhaustively covered topics trying to hit every possible search term. Moving forward, “dense” content is expected to prevail: content that is brief and packed with information. Google’s Panda algorithm even goes so far as to penalize fluff content by forcibly driving it down.
Deep linking to content within apps is still a useful tool, but the new trend for 2017 is the development of app streaming. This allows users to stream app content without having to download the app to their phones. Google is already starting to favor streaming mobile apps. Someday, streaming apps may entirely replace webpages.
SIRI AND CORTANA
When people search via Siri, they tend to use more conversational language than they would if typing a query into a search field. As more people use personal digital assistants like Siri and Cortana, there may be new ranking opportunities for conversational queries.
Another trend that is expected to be big in 2017–and it’s not really a trend–is ROI tracking. Marketers have developed sophisticated new technology for measuring traffic to websites and assessing use satisfaction. Some caution is warranted here though: keep in mind that ROI is not about traffic, it’s about conversion and revenue. And it’s something that should be tracked ALL the time, not just because it’s suddenly the new buzzword.