SEO: What Happened in 2016, What You Need to Know for 2017
With everything with Google and its search results, change is inevitable. 2016 was another chapter with major updates in Big G’s algorithm, with several that you may need to pay attention to if you noticed a change in your Google positioning:
- Mobile-Friendly Update (Early May). Google publicly announced on their blog that mobile-friendliness of a website is more of an important factor in their ranking algorithm, which is no surprise as almost everyone has a smartphone and uses it it for search these days.
- Possum (Late-August to Mid-September). Besides being named after a scary looking creature (except the baby possum we uploaded!), this update focused on local business listings in the Google Map “3-pack” section, with geographical location being more important than ever. For example, if you search for “Hamburgers in Austin”, you would likely get completely different sets of results in the 3-pack section if you search from our Motoza office versus the South Congress part of Austin. In addition, businesses in the same industry sharing the same address, but different suite number (which is common in business complexes) may run into filter issues in the Google Local results.
- Penguin 4.0 (Mid-September to Mid-October). This was notably the biggest event of 2016 that shook up the industry (and search results) back in the fall season. Google now updates their rankings real-time after it visits your site or webpage and indexes it into their system, instead of having to wait weeks or even months. This is good for websites that have been penalized and have been waiting to get out of the hole, as well as being awarded for pushing fresh content onto your website.
The fundamental basics of links and content will still be the lifeblood for SEO. Here are our tips on what you can do to prep for 2017 and make sure you’re on top of your game:
- Make your website mobile-friendly (if you haven’t already). For almost the last 2 decades, Google has primarily focused on searches from desktop computers; however, in mid-2015, Google made it official by stating that there are more searches on mobile devices than on desktops. With this shift in user behavior, it’s no surprise that Google is placing more emphasis on mobile user experience and not being up-to-date may likely become a disadvantage.
- Focus on delivering relevant answers to your products/services on your website. Targeting keywords is still important in SEO, but producing quality content that address the users’ questions and needs continues to be the cornerstone of search (and by the way, when mentioning content, it not only includes written text, but photos, videos, media, etc). With Google ramping up their efforts in voice search, creating great content that provides easy-to-access answers will be vital in 2017.
- Build a brand in your target geographic location. ROI and search rankings are important, but making a push on your brand in your city or region will go a long way in helping your SEO campaign. Sponsorships, events, and social media are a few examples that allow your target audience to remember your brand, and seeing your company in the Google search result is an extra opportunity for their eyes to focus on you.