Competing for Top Spots on Google SERPS in 2017

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As an experienced Canadian web hosting provider, we’re well aware that not ALL of our clients are in business – and more specifically in e-commerce businesses. There’s a good number of you who have your basic web hosting packages for personal interest or promotional websites, and for those folks knowing how to rank higher on Google search results won’t be as pressing a need.

For the rest of you who are fully into competing for higher search engine rankings, it’s a fact that Google is constantly altering and updating its algorithms. Let’s discuss approaches that are in line with the current search engine tunings coming from down there in Silicon Valley.

Those Ever-Changing SERP Algorithms

Many factors come into play as these aforementioned Google algorithm’s regularly evolve. Many of these transformations are in response to measurable changes among users’ habits (The increasing predominance of mobile web browsing, for instance). The way people consume search results and act on them plays a significant factor too, and Google monitors and analyzes every little detail extensively.

Here’s what you need to know about what determines online search results in 2017.

Featured snippets are now of increasing importance. Featured snippets can be more simply understood to be a direct answer, a summary of an answer to a query displayed on the top of the results page, often as a list of actionable bullet points or numbered steps. How they are advantageous is users get their questions answered directly on the results page, which is of course appealing because it means a straighter path to finding what they want and doesn’t involve any additional ‘clicks’. Google is showing these snippets in more than 32% of queries. (In 2015, the number was 28% and that’s expected to increase dramatically.)

How’s all of this relevant, you ask?

These featured snippets are extracted straight from the content of a website. One singular website that Google deems to have the best answer. If you want that website to be yours, you need to try to think about what questions your customers are asking and address those answers in as clearly and directly a manner as possible, and in the type of plain language that would make it easy for even the most unfamiliar individual to digest and comprehend.

Having these answers and text listed in bullet point form is often recommended, with the question on top. This increases the chances that Google will choose your site’s content to display in a featured snippet.

Searchers Entering Longer Queries Based on Specific Search Intentions

It’s natural that as users become more accustomed to looking for information on Google and other search engines, they are becoming more discerning with their searches. For example, instead of just looking for a “fishing reel,” a searcher today may well enter the search terms “large fishing reel for 2000 feet of line for bar fishing.” In response to the trend, Google is also becoming more adept at displaying results that match the specific intent of today’s searchers.

To successfully optimize your site, you want to be explicitly dialled in to your customers search targets. The more you understand their specific intent, the better you’ll do. Aim to target long tail keywords that match what you project to be your prospective customer’s search tendencies. These are keyword phrases that are at least 3-4 words long and really answer your customer’s needs in the most accurate way.

The Rapid Ascent of Mobile Web Browsing

Every year, a greater percentage of searches are taking place on mobile devices. Back in 2015, mobile search surpassed desktop search and the gap has only increased from there. Google therefore announced in November that they have “mobile-first” index on its way, where they will prioritize your mobile site over your desktop site when determining your rank. The long and short of that is that – for most business websites – optimizing your mobile web page will be more important.

Google is also on the lookout for accelerated mobile pages (“AMPs”) which load faster on mobile than regular pages. AMP creates mobile-simplified content for your site that shows up instantly on all mobile devices. Web pages with AMPs tend to rank higher on Google for relevant search terms.

Needless to say, you need a great mobile version of your website. That’s nothing new, and in truth you really should have one already. It’s not difficult to find a Canadian web hosting provider with a mobile website builder. Once you have yours, you can help make sure your blog posts load faster by turning on Google AMP.

Voice Search Gaining Serious Traction

Voice search is on the rise as ever-greater numbers of people conduct their searches by speaking with Siri, Alexa and Amazon Home. Sure, voice search still represents a relatively small volume of overall searches, but in the coming years we expect that its influence on SEO will expand considerably. Voice queries are often longer since people speak to these devices as they would to a person. In addition, users turn to Voice search when they want a quick, direct answer such as the weekend’s weather forecast, what was the score in the Leafs game, or where’s my nearest Pho restaurant?

When it comes to providing simple answers to simple questions Google will be providing that information directly in the SERP and that means the viewer is unlikely to need to reference secondary sites. To attract valuable traffic away from the SERP and to your website, you want to create what’s called complex content.

Complex content is content that’s not conducive to being answered in a small snippet of text at the top of a Google results’ page. When writing new content for your site, set yourself apart and create content that shows your expertise and creates value by going into greater detail without being long-winded or full of superfluous information. Go for depth and complexity instead of quick answers, but do so judiciously and have all of the content have discernible value for the reader

You can also try to attract clicks with website content that answers specific, niche questions, ones that Google wouldn’t be able to answer instantly right in its result page. Long story short, you will be able to attract clicks to your pages when you hone in on information that users won’t be able to get straight from Google.

Google’s Appetite Increasing

Google is a business and all successful do not rest on their laurels. These days, Google is sending more search traffic to ads or to websites that they own. They’re perfectly within their rights to give preference to the sites that can earn them clicks – and revenue! Research indicates a full 49% of Google search traffic is going to Google owned properties like YouTube and Google My Business.

If you want your business to show up on SERPs, promote yourself on Google-owned sites like YouTube and Google Maps. Create a YouTube channel and post related videos whenever you can. If you’re a local business, you MUST have a profile on Google My Business and make sure that users can find you using Google Maps.

There’s more to optimizing your website for Google search rankings in 2017, and we encourage you to do some research on your own. Considering the value your Internet Marketing has for the success of your business, it’s well worth it.

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