Another new year is upon us which means that for some marketers it’s the one time of the year they poke their heads up to learn “what’s new” in SEO in the new year. What sorts of things do they need to consider, change, or implement on their websites in order to continue playing into Google and other search engine’s good graces.
SEO in 2017 hasn’t changed in the sense that nothing new is being introduced into the already jam packed world of ranking factors, but that being said, the emphasis is continuing to shift in a certain direction. So without further adieu let’s identify the most important thing to know in the world of SEO this year and how you can make it work for you.
The #1 Thing to Consider in SEO in 2017
And in this year, 2017, the greatest and most important aspect of SEO is INTENT, or in other words the intent of the person searching for their keyword phrase in Google. In fact, it’s so important that I’m going to bold the word every time it appears in this article.
This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who has been visiting this site over the last few years or has kept themselves abreast of the latest trends in search engine optimization.
The industry has been steadily moving closer and closer to user experience with every year as Google continues to place an ever greater emphasis on the experience of its users. And with that in mind, to accomplish that Google needs to perfectly understand (or get as close as possible) the intent behind a user’s search every time they search.
The intent behind a user’s search is essentially the implicit motivation behind it: what is that user hoping to achieve through their explicit search. Different types of searches reflect different intents, even ones with seemingly minuscule differences.
A search for “car tires” suggests that someone is looking for information. Furthermore, such a generalized search suggests that they are early on in their search history with car tires. They might want to buy tires at some point in the future, but right now they likely just want more information on them.
A search for “buy car tires online” is far more specific and the intent of that individual is explicitly clear in the search; they are almost certainly looking to purchase car tires online.
However, it gets a bit murkier with a search for “best car tires” which more suggests that a person is looking for both information on car tires but also possibly to purchase them soon after that search.
They are looking to at least compare car tires and get a sense for what the best car tires are and once they have found that it’s likely that what began as an informational based search can turn into their taking action, buying car tires through their search.
Google has invested years and millions if not billions of dollars into best determining what the implicit intent behind every search phrase in their database is.
In fact, that’s what Rank Brain is all about. Rank Brain again is the name for Google’s AI based algorithm which is designed to in time fully take the place of human counterparts in delivering the best search results for its users. The biggest part of that is determining the intent of the user to decide what that user is REALLY searching for beyond their explicit search phrase they typed in.
THEN, the other half of that is determining which web pages deliver the best results based on that implicit search.
So to sum up a long answer to a short question of what’s the most important ranking factor in 2017 to consider in SEO, it’s creating content which meets and overdelivers in responding to the INTENT of the user’s search (see how I capitalized it that time to still draw attention to it?).
This is why it’s never been more important to put yourself in the shoes and mind of the person searching for the keywords you’re targeting and using in on page SEO.
In the past, you would just decide which keywords your customers would search for, then implement them on your page and maybe do some link-building and all that to let Google know that your page is relevant to that search.
Unfortunately relevancy alone will only get you so far in 2017.
Now you need to identify the implicit intent behind a search. Really understand what someone is looking for when they search for the keyword phrase you’ve created a page around. Once you understand that intent, you can get to work ensuring that your page will be end of their search. They need look no further for what they want as it’s all on that one page of your site (or that one page, plus a linear link which will lead them to the end of their search).
Now you might ask “How does Google determine whether or not my content is adequately responding to the user’s search intent?” Through user metrics of course.
This means having a low bounce rate, a good average time spent on your site, multiple pages visited (if applicable), etc.
The good news is that if you create your content with the intent of your customer in mind, the user metrics will take care of themselves because Google will recognize that their user found what they were looking for on your site.
And yes, in addition to delivering good content which responds to their intent, you need to set up your website so that it’s incredibly user friendly, as well. Someone should be able to find exactly what they’re looking for based on their search without getting lost on your site or having to poke around looking for what they need.
If I sound like I’m repeating myself, you’re not wrong. Everything I’m saying can be boiled down to delivering the best and most relevant user experience as possible, soup to nuts.
If you can understand your audience to the point of perfectly delivering the content which they are looking for, Google will reward you many times over with top rankings, equaling a prosperous relationship for the three of you (you, Google, and its users/your customers) for years and years to come.
One of the best things about SEO in 2017 is that it’s as evergreen as it gets. There is nothing remotely questionable about these tactics and if you do it right you’ll not only enjoy better rankings but more conversions on any goal you can create for your website.
Here’s to a prosperous 2017 for you and yours, and remember to put yourself in the mind of the people who will ultimately end up on your site through Google to figure out exactly both what it is that they’re looking for and how you can supply it to them as succinctly as possible.