Much has changed in search engine optimization over the years. As search engines tweak and update their algorithms and the technologies they use, changes in SEO strategies are only to be expected. In 2017, what techniques and methods are deemed effective? How different is on the page and off page SEO in 2017 from how it was done before?
This post aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the most important and arguably most effective strategies in search engine optimization. The points presented here take into account the changes search engines have implemented, Google in particular.
On Page SEO
These are the techniques that need to be implemented on the actual site or blog. These are aimed at optimizing the structure, content, and other elements of a site to make it search engine friendly.
Ensure good content
The cliché “content is king” still holds in will likely remain the case in the years to come. Good content is the most important component of on page search engine optimization. This means that your content should be original, readable (for humans), and valuable. Always avoid filling your content with fluff. Make sure that it offers real value to readers. Don’t just copy and paraphrase or spin content from another site. Also, take note of your content’s word count. Having it too short or too long is a no-no. Generally, it is advisable to have at least 700 words on a page.
If you are targeting visitors from a specific region with a different language, it would help localizing your content or having a section of your site with texts in the local language. Good content means relevant content the intended audience can easily connect with. What better way to do this than by using the local language, local idioms, and cultural references that are more relatable to local audiences. You may need the help of a website localization service provider for this. Don’t take localization lightly. It’s not something you can accomplish using automatic online language translators. Remember that you also need to translate the keywords and use them properly and naturally in the content, so you need to be sure what are the best-translated keywords to use.
Create a pleasant user experience
This is about the layout, structure, and navigability of your site. It’s important to create a site or blog that create a good impression. It should be easy for readers to find their way around the site, to go the important pages. The site’s design should be able to hold a visitor’s attention and guide them to the sections or content that matter. Consult site navigation best practices. If you publish long articles or gallery-like content (images with captions/descriptions), avoid making it obvious that you want your readers to create several page impressions. Don’t divide a long blog post, for example, into separate pages with only less than 200 words on each page. If you publish gallery content (or a presentation with multiple slides), as much as possible, provide the option to let readers view everything on one page.
On the other hand, page loading time should be low, less than two seconds as much as possible. Speed affects user experience as well as the consequent search engine ranking performance of a site’s pages. Moreover, don’t forget to optimize for mobile internet users. The number of mobile internet users has already exceeded the number of those who access the internet through desktops. It only makes sense optimizing a site for the sake of mobile internet users. To avoid having to create and maintain two versions of a site (desktop and mobile versions), it’s advisable to just use a responsive web design.
Diversify keywords and mind your keyword density – aim for natural keyword insertion
Use diverse keywords but make sure you are not over stuffing your content with them, and that everything looks natural. Keywords are important but their use shouldn’t appear like they’re being forced into the content. Aim for a keyword density of only 1% to 3%. Don’t use several keywords close to each other. Don’t insert all or most of your keywords in just one paragraph. Also, don’t make a sentence suit a keyword. It should be the keyword that needs to be modified to make it suit the sentence or the thought that needs to be conveyed.
To diversify your keywords, try to change the order of the words in them. For example, instead of using “smartphone cases” through and through, you can use “cases for smartphones”. Additionally, try to use synonyms and LSI keywords. Explore the many different possible other keywords your target readers would use to find your site or pages on your site. Use modifiers or adjectives in your keywords.
LSI, by the way, is an acronym for Latent Semantic Indexing, and basically, LSI keywords are keywords that are semantically related to a primary keyword. You don’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what LSI keywords are and how to generate them. You can just use online tools for generating LSI keywords for a primary keyword.
Don’t forget the right URL/permalink structure, meta tags, meta description, and other standard SEO elements
In 2017, the basics still matter. Don’t forget to have your keywords in your URL and to have a URL structure that makes sense (usually something that reflects a page’s or blog post’s title). Avoid having random numbers and letters in your URL and make sure you don’t use special symbols for the URL or blog Permalink. Be sure to add appropriate page titles or meta titles for all of your pages. The trio of the meta title (or page title), meta description, and meta tags can still be useful for SEO in 2017. If you are optimizing a business website, it also helps to add your NAT address or contact to boost your local search ranking.
Optimize your images
Images don’t only attract and keep the attention of readers on your site’s pages. They can also be optimized and be useful in improving your site’s ranking. Basically, for images, you need to add descriptions and alt texts. These are details search engines can see images. These help search engines in evaluating the usefulness and relevance of content or a page. Mind the sizes of your images, though. Avoid using too large images as they can slow down page loading time and negatively affect a page’s ranking.
Do proper internal and External Linking
Linking is not yet passé. It may not be that hyped up as before but links, still, do matter. For good internal linking, be sure to use natural anchor links that can invite readers to click on them. The anchor text does not have to be similar to the post or page title it is being linked with. Don’t overthink it. Just make sure it makes sense and that the links are not “nofollow” links. Additionally, try to link deep. Find posts or pages in your site that could use some visitors. Internal linking should help expose many pages of your site to readers. Don’t overdo your internal linking, though. A couple or so internal links should suffice.
On the other hand, for external linking, you need to make sure that you are only linking to relevant authority links. Limit your links to established resource sites or blogs. Ascertain that you are not linking to your competitors lest you help them rank better in search engine results. You may also try linking to sites that might link back to you. You can contact a blog, for example, and ask if it would be possible to do a link exchange.
Off Page SEO
Off page, SEO is usually the more tedious aspect of doing search engine optimization. This is because the techniques involved require more effort. Nevertheless, it’s off page SEO that has a bigger role to play in boosting a site’s search engine results page (SERP) ranking. On page, SEO is mostly about making sites or pages visible to search engines. It’s the off page part that significantly influences performance in SERPs.
The following strategies are still effective in doing SEO in 2017.
Social Media Promotion
Promoting sites on social media or enhancing social media engagement is a very important part of doing off page search engine optimization. It’s important to maintain a presence in the top social media networks at present, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram. Just make sure that you follow the terms of these different social media networks to avoid getting suspended or blocked. On Facebook, for example, you need to create a Facebook page instead of a typical Facebook account (for people) otherwise your account may be suspended since standard Facebook accounts are supposedly only for real people.
Social bookmarking sites such as Delicious, StumbleUpon, Digg, Slashdot, and Diigo may no longer be that popular but they can still be useful in spreading the word about sites or pages and in lifting your SEO efforts. Use them especially every time you post new content.
Forum and Q&A Engagement
Forums may be old but they’re not passé. There are still many who use forums. In fact, many use forums to share information and discuss Bitcoin (and Bitcoin certainly isn’t old stuff). Your site can benefit from the mentions and links it can get in forums and question and answer sites. Promote your site in forums and Q&A sites such as BBPress.org/forums, addthis.com/forum, answers.yahoo.com, askville.amazon.com, quora.com, and blurtit.com.
Another old SEO strategy for getting authority links is directory submission. This strategy, though, is still useful in 2017. Submit your site to as many directories as possible, especially in established ones such as Dmoz.org, Technorati.com, Alwebdirectory.org, Boingboing.net, and networkedblogs.com.
Presence on Video Sharing Sites
Notice how many sites maintain a presence on YouTube? It’s because there are many potential visitors that can be directed to a site after they see a video clip. That’s why posting videos on sites like YouTube, Dailymotion, Vimeo, Ustream, Hulu, Metacafe.com, and Break.com are also considered a good way for doing off page SEO. Search engines frequently present video search results especially for keywords involving recent events or news and for keywords on tutorials. It would be a big lost opportunity to be found by search engines and to attract visitors if you don’t maintain a presence in video sharing sites.
Article, Infographic, Image, and Document Submission
Lastly, it helps to attract visitors to a site when you submit your articles, infographics, images, or documents to directories or sharing sites that specialize in each of them. For your articles, you can submit them to sites such as thefreelibrary.com, magportal.com, ezinearticles.com, hubpages.com, and brighthub.com. For images, the following popular image hosting and sharing sites should be considered: Flickr, Picasa (Google), Deviant Art, Imgur.com, Mediafire, Shutterfly, and Fotolog. If you have infographics, be sure to share them on sites such as visual.ly, reddit.com/r/infographics, submitinfographics.com, infographiclove.com, and infographicsarchive.com.
There is no science in doing off page SEO. It’s rather difficult to precisely measure how the strategies listed here impact SERP ranking but these are important SEO techniques that need to be done. There is a universally accepted consensus in the SEO community that the kind of interactions or engagements achieved with these off page SEO strategies matters – significantly matter.
Ultimately, SEO in 2017 is about making sites more appealing to humans. It’s about making sure that content reads naturally and that a site leaves a good impression with its appealing design, good navigability, and better interactivity or responsiveness. As search engines, especially Google, strive to make their algorithms smarter and less likely to fall for the manipulative schemes of unscrupulous SEO companies, the trend is on making sites more attractive to humans and not to search crawlers or bots.
About The Author:
Bernadine Racoma is a senior content writer at Day Translations, a human translation services company. She has a notable fondness for things related to technology, social media, travel, health, lifestyle, and current affairs. She is also an advocate and mother to 7 successful children.