Happy New Year! Well, it’s that time when the marketing plan, strategy and budget are outlined and everyone on the team has their marching orders and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) that need to be reached over the next year.
As the eyes and heads turn towards the players sharing their expected results and goals, the SEO team seems to simply end their answers with, “We just won’t know the numbers until month six, eight or twelve into it.”
Most CEOs and top business leaders are hardened to this proverbial response of the “unknown” when it comes to KPIs in the world of SEO. They usually accept bracketed answers based on past performance with a push towards better traffic, clicks, and sales conversions. Therefore, when the team states their plan and recaps their marching orders, the conversation usually ends with a condition that protects them because one never knows what new set of rules that Google, Bing, or Yahoo’s team will change, or how their algorithm change will affect search.
This leads me to which changes and behaviors that businesses should be looking for in 2017 in regards to their very own website and search engine algorithms. So, let’s go through a list of what the Neilson Marketing Services team has laid out on our conference room table as important to watch out for in the near future.
Mobile-friendly Pages – AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
What exactly are we speaking of when it comes to mobile-friendly web pages? Well, there are two important factors to pay attention to and understand here: AMP and responsive web pages or design. Let’s address the differences between AMP and Responsive design web pages.
First, AMP (Accelerated Mobile pages). According to Google, AMP “is an open source initiative that embodies the vision that publishers can create mobile-optimized content once and have it load instantly everywhere.” Google AMP is a Google initiative that seeks to improve the mobile experience. By stripping down web pages to just the important content, it will allow the page to load extremely quickly. In October 2015, Google announced its new AMP project and objective to provide faster mobile browsing and mobile utilization through its search engine by developing a new open sourced type of HTML, specifically the AMP HTML. In plain language, this means that interested publishers and content creators can now develop a stripped-down HTML version of their own content that loads almost immediately when visitors are on a mobile device.
Neilson Marketing Services plays in the property and casualty insurance industry when it comes to servicing and helping clients, so a good mobile experience when it comes to usage – whether it’s a Droid, iPhone, Samsung, tablet or any mobile device – is just as important as the desktop computer for your clients’ target audience. Sure, internet speed and signal will be one of the ingredients that we don’t have control over, but it’s important to pay attention to what you do have control over: page speed and load time. If it takes 30 seconds or longer to load a page in a mobile environment, you will risk losing that prospect or client as they bounce off your site. Also, make sure you have a good call to action. Our team recently met with a large Program Administrator in Los Angles that niches in one class of business for certain coverages. They have good branding and traffic to their website, but their bounce rate is through the roof. Simply put, the site needs to be corrected to help the browser connect with them more easily, and it needs be written in a responsive design. If you take a look at the Neilson Marketing Services site you’ll notice that we educate about insurance marketing, but the ease of connecting with us when on a mobile device is not hampered and the call to action is clear.
Mobile-friendly Pages – Responsive Design
Although responsive design is also something that has been around for years, what we predict to see over the coming year is a gigantic uptick in the number of businesses, both national and local, who are transforming old websites to a responsive-based site.
A responsive design is basically a method for developing a site using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) media queries and flexible grids and layouts to create a single, dynamic site which adjusts and re-jigs its content to best display itself on different mobile devices. It works hand-in-hand with mobile first, as mobile first designs the experience and the look, and responsive implements it. CSS is a stylesheet language used to describe the presentation of a document written in HTML or XML, including XML dialects like SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) or XHTML. CSS describes how elements should be rendered onscreen, on paper, in speech, or in other media. So, the days of building a website with the desktop in mind first and only is over. Build from mobile to desktop.
One of the bonuses of responsive design is that it allows businesses to pay for just a single site build that will effectively deliver content on mobile and tablet as well as all the way to laptops and big-screened desktops. Take a look at one of our clients’ websites, Company Nurse, on a mobile device versus a desktop to experience the difference. In both cases, the call to action is clear and easy for the one landing on the site, whether it’s inviting you to make a phone call or fill out a web form.
Cost-effectiveness aside, the reason we anticipate national and local businesses engaging in this is because of an update to Google’s ranking algorithm, which dropped last April. To sum it up, Google’s update now boosts the ranking of sites that optimize their content for mobile devices and the traffic that lands there. Any site that isn’t optimized for mobile will see a major shakeup in where it ranks at the desktop level only. Therefore, putting user experience first within the front end of marketing a website is now crucial, so fixing for the desktop and the mobile environment is crucial. One newer change that was just announced by Google is about pop-up ads, or interstitials, in a mobile environment for web pages. Be aware that they will be measured, and sites that engage in this adverting may not rank as highly due to content not being as easily accessible to users on the transition from the mobile search results, and you’ll get penalized. This is important for buyers of banner ads in online industry trade publications to keep in mind, as traffic and impressions may be lower in the event that the publication has to correct their pop-up ad practices.
However, Google has provided details and information on how to use interstitials responsibly.
An Internet ad format that appears in a pop-up window between Web pages. Interstitial ads download completely before appearing, usually while a Web page the user has chosen is loading. Because interstitial pop-up windows don’t appear until the entire ad has downloaded, they often use animated graphics, audio, and other attention-getting multimedia technology that requires longer download time.
By comparison, here are a few examples of methods that use ads responsibly and would not be affected by the new signal.