SEO Best Practices in 2017 – With the Google Mobile First Indexing announcement in November, there are big changes afoot. Stay ahead in 2017 with this guide.
SEO Best Practices in 2017 Part 1
This is the 1st of a 5 part series on SEO best practices in 2017, and how Web It 101 can bring life to your online presence. These are called Google Best Practices. And it’s what Web It does for clients, day in and day out. Are these all new to you? Then shame on you for not following the rules. We do it “by the book”. No overstated promises. No black hat backlink buying. No outsourcing overseas. Just hard work and results.
5 SEO Best Practices in 2017
What we do every year is take the most meaningful 5 “categories” that make up the most important factors in SEO. This year, our 5 SEO best practices in 2017 covers;
- Website Performance
- On Page SEO
- Authority – How Content Impacts SEO
- Website Freshness and SEO
- Locality, Social Media and Personalization – Local SEO
While there are many SEO Guides, each and every one published in 2017 will be discussing the impact of Google Mobile First Indexing.
In a nutshell, Google, who began to warn businesses to get mobile responsive sites years ago, is following up the April 2015 “mobilegeddon” with the 2017 “desktopgeddon”.
Google Mobile-First Indexing
We’ll keep this simple.
Back 10 years ago, before smartphones existed, Google used one (desktop) crawler to index websites for Search Engine Return Pages (SERP). Then in April 2015 (after warning businesses months earlier), they switched to two web crawlers (bots). One to index (desktop) and one to look for mobile friendly signals (mobile). This was because when searching on a phone, Google wanted to show websites that actually worked on a phone, not the older websites. In other words, if you had a desktop on IP service and your phone on LTE, you could see two different search returns for the exact same query in the exact same location.
The good news is they have announced they are going back to one.
The bad news, it’s a mobile bot.
Simply put, if you sell widgets and you know beyond any shadow of a doubt that no one would ever look up your website on a smartphone, and were positive all your customers used Pentium II desktops with CRT monitors, you were not impacted in 2015 because your old “desktop” website still worked fine for you. And who cares about mobile anyways?.
That changes this year.
As Google rolls Mobile First Indexing out this year, they are returning to just one list of search returns; the mobile returns. For every device, regardless of how it’s connected to the web, regardless of screen size,etc.
If you do not have a mobile-responsive website, now it’s time to act.
5 SEO Best Practices in 2017 – Website Performance
Website performance metrics also play the biggest role in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP) positions, because these performance metrics indicate how well visitors can engage and consume your website content.
In general, these website performance metrics include factors such as:
- Mobile Responsiveness
- Site Speed
- Dwell Time (time on page)
- Clean Code – Optimized Images
- Content Delivery Speed (from server)
- Hosting/Server configurations
Every user study confirms that the most important of these metrics is the fact that your website must be “mobile-friendly” per Google.
The sad reality is that many DIY website builders and even some “web design” people will tell you your site works on mobile, but what they really mean is it “displays” on mobile. These type of websites fail miserably in user-friendliness and generally fail the various Google Test Sites, so you have penalties in the SERP regardless of what you were told. If Google doesn’t pass you with flying colors, it just doesn’t count.
5 SEO Best Practices in 2017 – Website Performance – The Big 3 Factors
Responsive web design (RWD) is an approach to website design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of re-sizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from large desktop computer monitors to mobile phones, pads, phablets and watches). By utilizing responsive design, you eliminate Google penalties and your website users now see the came content and images, irregardless of the device used. Additionally, clean code (not poorly coded templates) will arrange the text and images properly when resized to a smaller device. You can test your website for mobile HERE.
With a Responsive Webpage, your “load time”, especially on mobile devices, decreases. Responsive pages load much quicker. That’s important because web users are an impatient lot, and studies have shown that if a site takes too long to load, it won’t appear as favorably in search engine results. Google even maintains a site where they score your website speed, so it’s no surprise that it factors heavily in SEO.
Also, a fast website keeps the attention of site visitors and encourages them to browse the content; a page that loads slowly will often drive users away and toward your competitors. By keeping the site’s responsive CSS code clean and up-to-date, developing a stable site menu architecture, and maintaining excellent file and resource management practices, you can help guarantee quick-loading webpages for your site’s visitors. You can test your sites speed and user friendliness on Google HERE.
Google also measures “Dwell Time” or the amount of time a visitor spends on a page on your site. This is a big SEO factor as well. If people don’t stay on your website, and click the back button, you fall in the rankings. Conversely, if they stay engaged with your site, you will rise.
So is your content up-to-date and engaging? Is it authoritative and trustworthy? Does the URL match the page title? Are the keywords in the meta-description accurate? Are they in the page content and the SEO title? All this plays a central role in SEO. (more on this in Part 2 – On Page SEO).
It all starts with an engaging, user-friendly mobile responsive site coded to Google Best Practices
Again…you need to have a mobile responsive website. Combined with a fast server and proper coding. It’s the foundation for your internet presence. What else can be said? If your website is not built on a responsive platform, that becomes a #1 SEO mistake and no other SEO factors will work nearly as well.. You can test your business website HERE to see if Google considers it “Mobile-Friendly”.
Lastly, it’s important to address the growing number of Do-It-Yourself website builders. Apart from the fact there provide little-to-no SEO tools (they hard code the SEO for their company, not yours), the real problem lies in that coding you don’t see. DIY website builders make everything simple for you. Great right? Well, not exactly. By hiding the code it may make the design simple but it confuses Google. Why is this important? Well, for one, it’s common for thousands of websites to disappear from searches for weeks and months at a time. The fact is that Google loves to see websites that are well coded and clearly structured. It’s how it makes sense of your sites information. Your website could be the best looking site in the world…..ever. But when the coding behind it is poor then it may not exist well in Google terms.
Taken together; mobile friendliness, site speed and dwell time make up “Website Performance” and that “performance” is very big factor in SEO. So much so, it’s #1 on our list of the 5 SEO Best Practices in 2017. Don’t believe us? Why else would Google take the time to set-up and maintain websites for business owners to measure performance and mobile friendliness?