Now that 2017 is well upon us, it makes sense to talk about some of the most important trends that we are going to see this year and what you need to focus on for your business. The single most important thing that you really need to hone in on this year is going to be all things mobile.
If you've been paying attention to the updates that Google has been doing over the last several years, then you already know just how important mobile optimization is. In fact, Google completed the 2016 year by announcing that they would be performing a mobile-first algorithm of indexing. Ultimately, this particularly type of indexing is going to use the website content from the mobile version of a website to rank web pages and to show pieces of content from those pages in Google's search results.
With that all being said, what do you need to do to go from being mobile-friendly to mobile-first? Here are four tips that can help you in your move this year:
1. Perform an Audit of Your Website for Mobile-Friendliness
Before you can take the time to focus on creating a site that is mobile-first, you need to first ensure that your site is mobile-friendly. Therefore, you need to perform the Mobile-Friendly Test to see if your site meets the standards set by Google.
Once this test is complete, you will need to perform a full audit of your mobile website. There are several tools available at your disposal that can help you conduct this audit. However, you will want to ensure that it can not only perform a comprehensive audit of your mobile site, but that it can also search for a number of additional SEO-related factors that can impact search engine rankings. Everything needs to remain crawlable to ensure that your audit has the ability to detect any possible problems, including thin content, broken links, missing meta descriptions, etc.
2. Don't Overlook the Importance of Optimizing for Voice Search.
Last year, Google spread the world that voice search was the next biggest form of user search. In fact, 20 percent of searches are voice-related. This number only continues to grow as each day passes. So, how do you optimize your website for voice searches? In order to do this, you need to first determine how and why individuals use voice search.
As for the how, people will usually use a full question rather than abbreviated terms. In other words, "Where is the nearest Chinese restaurant?" vs. "local Chinese restaurant". Therefore, you need to ensure that your SEO campaign includes long-tail keywords like these questions. Regarding the why, most people use it because they want to know something, they want to do something, they want to go somewhere, or they want to buy something. They are all considered immediate needs and a voice search has the ability to answer the questions with fast and accurate answers.
3. Make Local Search a Priority.
While voice search has become increasingly popular, local search has as well. In fact, over the last year, "near me" local searches have seen an increased two-fold. In addition, one in three smartphone users will typically make a purchase from a different brand than originally intended due to the fact that the brand shows up when searching for additional information.
So, to be put simply, in order to be mobile-first in today's world, it is crucial that your business is at the top of the search engine results when web users search for your products and/or services. For this to happen, there are a few things that you need to do. To begin, you need to register with online business directories, such as Google MyBusiness, Yelp, etc. You need to ensure that your NAP (name, address, and phone number) are up-to-date and always consistent across all directories and websites that your business is listed on. You should include high-quality images and detailed schema mark-ups and encourage customer reviews.
4. Don't Forget Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Google promotes Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) above standard web pages when in response to mobile searches. These particular pages are designed to load virtually immediately. In fact, Google says that they should load roughly four times faster than traditional mobile pages, yet still offer smartphone users what they desire: instant results that will solve their immediate needs.
WordPress and AMP work hand-in-hand. There is an AMP plug-in that works very well on WordPress websites. Right now, it is not clear whether or not Google AMP optimization is still a necessity; however, it does appear that it will help publishers give their posts and articles a decent boost.
Looking back at 2016, it is clear that our future is in smartphones. They are currently responsible for nearly 60 percent of all search-related queries. Now, Google is reporting that mobile-first indexing isn't far off. Therefore, mobile doesn't appear to be a trend any longer. Instead, it is something that is necessary to keep your business alive and thriving. It is the next step forward in 2017.