As we enter the second half of 2017, it is prudent to stop and ask ourselves an important question: are we still aligned with SEO best practices? After all, this is the year where the Fred update hit sites focused on publishing content.

The most affected websites had content which looks like it was created for ranking purposes only. There are also ads or affiliate links within the content. This content barely adds any value to the user. These sites had traffic declines to the tunes of 90%.

How then do you thrive in a dynamic environment where things keep changing and where there is a rising belief that SEO is dead? In this article, we look at the SEO best practices in Mid-2017.

Featured Snippets and Related Questions

Also known as position zero, these refer to the first result that is usually "framed". You are likely to find these results when you key in a question in the search query. See image here:

Featured snippet in Google search results

This is undoubtedly a position that is worth striving for. A single "framed result" can be shown in at least 21 search results, according to a study done by STAT search analytics. If your website appears in search results as a related question or featured snippet, there is a very high likelihood that most of the users will click on your website. If you do provide value, then they will not go beyond the featured result.

How do you start moving towards your website being featured? You need to create topically strong and longer form content that answers the questions people in your niche are likely to be having, and ensure that your HTML tags are easy for Google to crawl.

Related questions and featured snippets have grown to 1723% since mid-2015. Position results are also popular in Google voice search results, something that we’ll talk about next. Getting your website to position zero should become one of your SEO goals in mid-2017. You can use SEMRush to measure featured snippets.

Voice Search Optimization is SEO

According to Google, at least 20% of mobile queries are voice search. In fact, it is growing faster than typed search. SEO for voice search is, of course, different from traditional web search. For instance, the queries involve very long-tail keywords, full questions, and even complete sentences.

Featured snippets and related questions have been said to be Google’s efforts towards responding to voice search’s growing popularity. At this point, it is still not completely clear how voice search will affect SEO, or how to go about ensuring that your site appears in voice search results.

However, there are some steps you can take to give your website a boost when it comes to featured snippets.

User intent and language will undoubtedly be something to think about. The content you create will also need to be conversational and that responds to user queries. Location and contact details will also come in handy to deliver results, especially those that are related to finding directions.

What is Link Juice in SEO related question

Social Media Really Can Help SEO

According to Statista, it is estimated that there will be 2.95 billion social media users globally by 2020. This means that Google’s bots cannot ignore social platforms in their ranking. Let’s do a quick Google search. Just type the name of any company/brand/organization. What do you notice? If the company has any social media profiles, they appear in search results.

This means that you need to take social more seriously in mid-2017. Social media provides strong and authoritative backlinks that increase your site authority (there is evidence that Google ignores the NoFollow tag for certain high-authority websites). Social media does help in increasing conversions too. Since there is way more engagement on social platforms, you are likely to redirect more traffic to your site, resulting in higher ranking in search results.

The question then becomes how to do SEO on social in mid-2017. Better still, the platform to concentrate on. When it comes to the platform to choose, you need to be guided by your target audience, what you are offering, and the value your brand gives the user.

Instagram helps a brand to build a visual identity. Facebook is ideal for branding and some customer service. Twitter is ideal for marketing. Snapchat is ideal for engagement. In 2017, Instagram leads in terms of engagement. It delivers 58 times more engagement than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.

Facebook users are looking for value. To create engagement, post interesting or informative content, updates or events.

Use AMP to Improve Site Load Time

While site load might not be considered an aspect of SEO, it is undoubtedly important for user experience on your site. If your site has a slow load time, it will definitely result in a high bounce rate. This sends alarming signals to Google’s ranking algorithms. They will likely begin to rank your site lower in search results since it does not provide a great user experience.

You must have heard of Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). This refers to scripts that help websites to load content faster on mobile. AMP is popular among news websites and other publishers.

AMP doesn’t allow certain scripts and functions, greatly reducing load time. Only relevant content is shown to the user. While this is a good way to increase your site’s speed, recent studies have shown that AMP has resulted in low user engagement and conversion rates, the same problem we are trying to solve. Low engagement can be bad for SEO, so AMP might not be bet if your website isn’t dedicated to publishing single servings of content.

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Increase WordPress Site Speed

Consider Progressive Web Apps for Your Mobile Site

In mid-2017, you may want to consider using PWAs (progressive web apps) alongside AMP. These are mobile apps which not only ensure fast load times but also give the user a similar experience like they would have on your website. PWAs have been developed by Google for smartphone home screens. In fact, users access websites via an icon on the home screen. It works perfectly well even when there is a slow internet connection.

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PWAs are simply web pages which contain modern browser features, for instance opening on fullscreen (with no URL bar), push notifications and smooth navigation.

SEO in 2017 Is Very Dynamic

There are a lot of factors that affect it, including those that are not, per se, aspects of SEO. The best thing to do is to stay up to date on the above-discussed aspects and look for ways to integrate them into your SEO strategies, moving forward, from the second half of 2017.