How to Keep Your Website Current (and Google Happy) in 2017

Google on iPad

Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, could be described as the art of predicting what algorithm updates Google is going to come up with next. Where should you be focusing your attention if you want your website to score high in the search listings?

Google continues to prioritize quality over quantity. Key areas to pay attention to this year are content, user-friendliness, speed, reliability, and safety. Here are two do’s and two don’ts that will keep Google working in your favor this year.

 

Do Keep Optimizing Your Speed

Website page loading speed is a key component of the new Google algorithm, designed to improve the search experience for mobile users. Up until recently, the speed with which web pages load in mobile devices has had little to no influence on search ranking, but that is changing this year. You may be aware that Google is splitting its search index in order to prioritize mobile over desktop use.

When this happens, speed optimization will be paramount. Google has come out with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), a fast way to deliver static content to mobile users. Whether AMP is the ideal solution for your needs or not depends on how large a share of your target audience is currently using mobile devices.

 

Do Focus on User Experience

User experience has been at the top of Google’s list for a number of years. It is important to remember, however, that a good user experience doesn’t end with only the content of your web pages. The overall design and functionality of your website are just as important. Speed, safety, and reliability are the key components of a user-friendly approach.

Google uses several metrics to measure websites’ user-friendliness. Among these are click-through rate (CTR), personalization, and dwell time (the amount of time users spend on a page or website). On top of that, Google is increasing its use of the RankBrain algorithm. This algorithm uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to refine search results for users.

 

Don’t Use Annoying Pop-ups

If pop-ups were annoying on desktops, they are even more so on mobile devices. Pop-ups can be very hard to close on a small screen. A small closing icon that is hard to find doesn’t make for a good user experience.

That is why in January Google has rolled out an update to an algorithm that punishes websites that use particular types of pop-ups. You can still use pop-ups to warn about cookies or for age-restricted content. Google isn’t banning pop-ups altogether. The algorithm was designed to restrict the amount of space pop-ups can take up on any given web page.

 

Don’t Delay Making Your Website Responsive

As mentioned earlier, Google is creating two separate indexes this year by splitting up the desktop and mobile index. The mobile index will have priority over the desktop index. This means that sites that haven’t been optimized for mobile will be negatively affected.

Since mobile searches have overtaken desktop searches, Google is urging website owners to at least provide responsive content if they don’t have a mobile site. The amount of online traffic coming from mobile devices is rapidly increasing. It is clear where Google’s priorities lie.

 

The surge in mobile traffic is the main driving factor behind the major Google search algorithm changes this year. The best search engine optimization strategy in 2017 is one that aims to provide a good user experience on mobile devices.