7 SEO Insights & Take-Aways From SMX Advanced 2017
I had the pleasure of attending SMX Advanced this year in Seattle and I’ll admit, it was definitely worth the trip!
As an SEO, having to change and adapt is something that I’m fairly used to as claims of SEO dying tend to surface year after year. In this post, I’ll discuss areas where business owners should be investing in with respect to SEO and shed some light as to where the opportunities are for the SEO industry as a whole.
What were the big highlights this year in SEO?
There are usually a handful of topics that are hit on over and over again at conferences like these, depending on what’s happening in the organic search landscape during the current year. While there was no shortage of discussion around many areas of SEO, there were a few that were at the top of everyone’s mind.
1. Mobile-first indexing
Google is changing the way they crawl the web. Now that mobile searches are at an increasingly higher percentage than desktop searches, it only makes sense that Google starts crawling the web through the lens of a mobile device.
This means rather than downloading and crawling your website as a desktop machine would see it, it will do it as if it were a mobile device. While this changes many things for Google in how they manage the differences between a desktop web and the mobile web, there are also a few significant takeaways from this as a business owner.
Your mobile content will become much more important. Currently, the way Google crawls your website, you could have completely different content on your desktop website as you do the mobile website, and the mobile website content will never show up in Google’s index. What this means is if you are running an m dot website, or a third-party mobile website, that only your desktop version would be looked at (even if your mobile content was completely different). With a move towards mobile-first indexing, the content that is shown on your mobile website is the only content Google will consider.
So what do you do? The best case would be to have a completely responsive website that adapts to the size of the searcher’s device. This way the content will be the same for both the desktop and mobile versions and you will not have to worry about updating content in multiple places.
2. Google’s Crawl Budget and Technical Crawl-ability
When Gary Illyes wrote this post on Google’s crawl budget, the SEO world went a little crazy. While crawl budget was always something SEOs considered, it wasn’t really discussed publicly until then. This has been responded to by a flood of information on improving technical SEO in order to help site owners make their websites as efficient as possible so Google can best crawl their content.
The bottom line here is that Google needs to crawl your content in order for it to be indexed. While crawling itself is not a ranking factor, it is at the core of what Google does, and there are many factors on a website that could impact how well Google can access your content on a regular basis.
So what do you do? It’s always good to start with an in-depth technical audit that reviews your website through the lens similar to how Google does. Scheduling daily, weekly, or monthly crawls of your website will also help you see how things perform period over period so you know if you are making the right changes, and you catch any issues that might arise.
3. Featured Snippets
We’ve talked about featured snippets before in our post about organic position 0. As more and more tools are tracking the results within the featured snippets, it’s becoming easier and easier not only to optimize for them, but also to track your success across a large set of keywords.
Without going into too much detail on what it is (you can read more here), know that it’s becoming increasingly important as more screen real estate is being used by paid ads and other features.
So what do you do? Use Featured Snippets! A little hint: optimizing for featured snippets will also help you improve your organic positioning because you are giving the user exactly what they are looking for.
With the introduction of Possum – Google’s latest local algorithm – there has been a lot of talk and focus on local optimization. Combining this with an increase in access to, and the volume of, good local listing management software, local SEO is stronger than ever.
One of the major benefits of Possum is the fact that your business’ distance from the city center is no longer as heavily weighted. However, your proximity to the searcher (on a mobile device, anyway) is still very important.
So what do you do? If you are running a business with multiple locations and you haven’t yet started to invest in local SEO and listings management the time is now.
5. Page Speed, AMP, PWAs, etc.
Improving user experience and speed primarily on a mobile device is getting a lot of attention given the move to mobile-first indexing. While there still is a lot of debate on Native Apps vs AMP websites, vs PWAs, etc., the one commonality is a focus on improving page speed and the experience for the user.
So what do you do? If your website captures a significant source of traffic (desktop or mobile) this is an area you should be investing in to make sure you are not only well optimized for shifts in the index, but also to demonstrate that you are putting your user first. We will cover this topic in more detail as the debate unfolds.
6. Voice Search is Coming Quickly
Well, it’s already here. But it’s impact on organic search is going to be quite substantial as the percentage of searches from voice increases. While there was not a lot of discussion on voice search at the conference, there was an agreement that it is coming and while no one may know exactly what organic search looks like for voice – it is going to be a significant shift in the industry.
So what do you do? Stay informed and be ready to shift your strategy as this gains momentum.
7. There is a lot of opportunity in International Content
This quote came right out of the mouth of Gary Illyes when asked where SEOs should be focusing their efforts. While not surprising, most SEOs focus on English-speaking countries and businesses.
That said, there is a lot of opportunity for both the industry and for multi-national businesses to improve international content. Many International search results are lacking the same high quality content that exists in the English-language search results. Helping businesses with International content and therefore improving their visibility is a big opportunity if you’re competing globally.
So what do you do? Think global, enlist international partners.
Organic search will continue to evolve into the future and we are dedicated to bring you the latest on what is working now and help position you for the future. Don’t hesitate to connect with us if you have any questions about your organic performance.