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How to win Google’s SEO love in 2017

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SEO / July 10, 2017

Let’s get back to basics, and dispel any magical thinking about how to please the fickle Google search algorithm. Performing well in organic search comes down to two things in 2017: mobile and intent.

Everyone who works in digital knows a little about search engine optimization. More keywords! More links! Make it load faster! But one thing we’ve learned is that very few people actually want to do the painstaking work that successful SEO requires. But if you isolate the work to its essentials based on what you know is going to work, that effort becomes meaningful and rewarding.

We’ve isolated SEO success for 2017 to two key practices (of course there are others, but these are the ones that will give you long term gains). One: make your website very, very mobile friendly. And two: go beyond mere keywords to understand how intent informs search behaviour.

Take a deep breath. We’re here to sort it all out for you.

More and more about mobile

Of course you already know this: Google gives priority to websites that have a mobile-friendly design. With each mobile algorithm update, the engine gives mobile optimized websites a little more love. In fact, MOZ survey respondents anticipated that mobile friendliness would have the highest impact (over other factors) on how your site ranks in 2016. That’s a big deal.

So we have to ask: Why have you taken this long to make your website mobile friendly? We know the process of changing to responsive design can be lengthy and expensive. We get that. As of April 2016, 65% of all digital media time happens on mobile devices. What’s more, recent data from Google showed that search is the most used mobile resource; 87% of mobile users turn to search first. Maybe that will convince you that mobile usability is worth the investment.

Not sure how mobile-friendly your website is? Test it here. And while you’re at it, learn how to adapt your website to multiple devices in Google’s Mobile SEO Guide.

Beyond keywords to user intent

User intent is just a fancy word SEOs use to describe a more integrated approach to keyword research. Once upon a time we could just stuff our content with our targeted keywords and be done with it. In recent years, Google’s algorithms are going beyond mere keywords, looking instead at what a searcher intends to do on the end of a search query.

In other words, rather than Googling “kitten” a searcher with intent will type “how do I feed my kitten?” or “help me find a lost kitten”. Building a keyword list with intent simply means going beyond the word “kitten” to identify the exact phrases a user will enter that relate to your product or service.

This is where content strategy comes into the equation: start your SEO process by understanding what motivates your customers to seek out your business. Then research and build keywords phrases that both include your important keywords and describe what a user can do, learn, or buy on your website.

And then begins the time-consuming process of developing content that addresses the needs and goals of your target audience. Write those keyword phrases into product descriptions, instructional blog posts and service descriptions.

It’s really the same old SEO content dance, except instead of writing an empty article about kittens, you would write a series of articles that address each of your target customer’s intents: how to brush kittens, how to feed kittens, etc.

Good SEO is just common sense

In both cases, Google is giving you a little nudge and rewarding you for things that will make your website and user experience better in a lot of ways. By focusing on mobile usability and creating intent-oriented content, you’re making your products or services more accessible to the customers you want to reach. Who’s going to argue with that?

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CEO @ Bloom

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