Search engine optimization (SEO) is ever-evolving. It’s an often mysterious, and more-often-than-not frustrating, endeavor for local business owners. Even if you’ve mastered your business’s website, adjusting the content and its functionality frequently helps you compete for those coveted spots on top search engine results pages.

Since search engines like Google rapidly (and regularly) change their algorithms and how they rank web pages, it’s always good to reset and refresh your SEO tactics. Let’s take a look at some of the latest and greatest SEO advancements that’ll change the game in 2017.

Google’s Willing to Help You Out

Ever clicked through a result from a web search to be met with a blank page taking seconds to load? Think about how long you waited before you pressed the back button. Unless you were blessed with more patience than the average bear, you probably didn’t wait more than a few seconds before deciding to leave the slow site. In fact, up to 40% of visitors are likely to abandon a site if it fails to load in only 3 seconds.

Since Google knows this, they actually penalize sites with slower loading speeds or too many bounces. They also punish site rankings for sites that aren’t suitable for mobile users, as mobile overtook desktop as the primary device used to access websites last year.

The good news? Google’s willing to help. In 2016, Google began an Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project, wherein they provide a new standard for building web content tailored to the mobile user. The goal of the project is to help website owners adapt their HTML and CSS to “lighter” versions of pages that load faster. How much faster? About 30% faster according to SearchEingneLand.

Note: Some experts are saying AMP is not directly correlated with better search rankings. What it does is create a better user experience, ultimately building trust for your site online and improving your click-through and bounce rates. So let’s call it indirectly correlated for now.

Focus on Local Relevancy

You love the term “local” because you’re a local business owner! Local relevancy is important for SEO as well. It’s not uncommon for sites with high authority backlinks to gain relevancy and rise in the rankings. For local businesses, this is even more critical. Moreso than authority, linking your pages to other local sites that are relevant to users in your area could give you a big boost in popularity.

Some tips to boost local relevancy:

  • Look at your competitors. Where are they linking locally on their page?
  • Use your network. Have friends who own adjacent local businesses? See if you can help each other out with relevant links on both of your websites.
  • Toot your own horn. If you sponsor local sports teams or support a local charity, let your prospects and customers know about it with links to these organizations’ sites.
Voice is the Next Big Thing

Does “Siri, how long does it take to bake chicken breasts at 400 degrees?” seem like a reasonable voice search? Have you maybe even made this search on your own? Fair enough, because these are happening all the time. Your prospects and customers are voice searching more than recipes. They’re looking for restaurants, dentists, lawyers, lawn care, handymen – businesses like yours – via voice search.

So how do we cater to this type of searcher? We use Google’s featured snippet, the recommended answer to a searcher’s question that appears before the actual search results.

They look something like this:

To target this featured real estate, do these things:

  • Be smart with your long-tail keywords. Think about actual phrases your customers and prospects would search for online to find you, and incorporate these into your website for optimal SEO.
  • Provide valuable content on your site that answers questions. Whether in the form of a blog or via a helpful FAQ page, think of the questions your customers may be asking, and offer them free help! Doing so will help them find your site faster, and if they’re ultimately unable to self-serve, we know who they’re gonna call (not Ghostbusters).
Don’t Take Any SEO Shortcuts

Since SEO first became popular, many web developers and business owners have tried to beat the system with SEO shortcuts like keyword stuffing, where you place as many keywords throughout your copy as possible, without regard to the actual value it’ll bring to your readers. Unlike Monopoly, where my husband will say, “If you’re not cheatin’, you’re not tryin’,” Google and other search engines see right past any suspected SEO trickery. Best to keep your SEO on the up and up with honest, straightforward (yet still savvy) content and formatting.

Need an Assist?

SEO is one of the more complex undertakings for local business owners. Even the pros are constantly adjusting their methodologies based on the latest trends.

Don’t have the time to keep up? We do, and we can tell you more. Let’s chat.