Janet Peischel

Janet Peischel

Like everything else these days, search engine optimization (SEO) has evolved—here are six SEO rules for 2017 to get the most out of your content investment.

1. Keywords: forget exact matches: think good intentions

You no longer need an exact keyword to solicit a relevant search result. Now, search engines are seeing how people are interacting with your website. It’s about the post-click activity.

2. Keywords: they ain’t what they used to be

Search engines are now more intuitive; they’re smarter, able to anticipate. Loading landing page with keywords is so yesterday. Google is now interpreting our meaning.

If you wanted to rank for best restaurants, you used to have to repeat best restaurants three to four times.

It’s still helpful to mention best restaurants, but the semantic meaning is now much more important. Talk about great dining experiences, good food and wine and the search engines will pick up on it.

Headlines: Think really, really brief

Most search queries are between three and five words long, so write headlines accordingly. As content creators, if you’re thinking about optimization, you always need to be thinking about brevity and character limits. It’s a huge challenge.

3. Focus on the user experience

Google makes an estimated 500 algorithm changes a year. Every change is focused on making sure that when people search on Google, they get a great experience.

Great content will increase the chances of someone’s reading and sharing it.

Beware Top 5 articles

Those articles with a Top 5 or list format are increasingly used as clickbait. Don’t deceive your user. If you’re promising them the Top 5, deliver.

4. Size matters

These days, when everyone seems to be communicating in 140-character bites, it’s difficult to make a case for longer articles, but they perform better in search. Longer articles — 1,200 to 1,500 words — are getting more traffic, and they’re consistently ranking higher in searches.

Make those long pages more accessible

Break them up with subheads; use bullet points and images to make it easy for readers to quickly scan and digest your landing pages.

Seduce your readers with great subheads, drawing them in to read more.

5. Optimize for mobile

If you’re a desktop user, it’s time to emerge from Sleepy Hollow. The majority of people are now reading their content on their smartphones, so make your content searchable.

6. Use unique images

While images aren’t as big of a referral source in Google as they used to be, using unique images on your site is valuable.

Having unique content around those images is what makes it stand out. If you can create a custom image or use unique photography, it will pay off in the long run.

The most important SEO tip for 2017 is to focus on your audience

Today, it’s about delivering what people want to see that will give you an SEO ranking boost. One more thing. With Google’s last few algorithm changes, you can no longer scam search engines. Quality content has become non-negotiable.

Janet Peischel is a writer, Internet marketing expert and the owner of Top of Mind Marketing. Contact Janet at 510-292-1843 or jpeischel@top-mindmarketing.com.