Category Archives: Blog

10 SEO Predictions for 2017

As long as SEO has been in place, there have always been discussions, articles and rumours about it dying out and no longer relevant or required within the Marketing industry. There have been many articles, Blog posts or even whole websites aiming to cover the answers to questions such as “Is SEO Dead?” and “Why Do We Need SEO.” However, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or Search Engine Marketing (SEM) has continually evolved, year after year and has always been a vital element of any Digital/Online Marketing strategy.

It’s true to say that some of the SEO techniques from around ten years ago can not be carried out nowadays to achieve the same successes. Practices such as link buying, keyword stuffing, cloaking (displaying one page for a user instead of another) or spammy content are no longer viable and could potentially cause a website to get penalised or blacklisted by the Search Engine directories. Instead, Search Engine marketers have had to adopt their strategies and focus less on what Search Engines want to see and more around what is best for the visitors.

SEO has continually evolved over the years and is ever-present as we move into 2017. Google continues to update its core algorithms to focus on metrics such as user engagement and quality content with the aim of improving its results for the 40,000 or more search queries which it processes for every second. By focussing on the latest recommended best practices and analysing the latest trends in SEO, we can determine which elements are going to be critical for the success of a website as we head into next year.

SEO Strategy in 2017

Here are the top 10 SEO trends and developments identified by Net Sixty Six as being at the forefront of Search Engine Marketing in 2017:
SEO predictions 2017

  1. HTTPS: An announcement was made back in 2014 by Google that it wanted to focus more on making the Web a more secure environment. Websites which utilised HTTPS over the standard HTTP would see their visibility improve. As we continue to see more adoption for these domain updates, we will also see improvements in efficiency, site security and also in speed.
  2. Structured Data / Schema Tags: It is estimated that just under 20% of search queries performed by users, currently see returned results in the form of direct answers or ‘rich snippets.’ These are essentially small packets of information to help provide more effective and efficient results so that visitors can easily find the answers they were seeking out. If your website features products, services, a business address, reviews, important dates, authors or special offers, it is a good idea to utilise Structured Data or Schema tagging which will help make the results stand out.
  3. Knowledge Graph / Featured Snippets: By supplying Google with more structured data, we will expect to see more featured snippets, answer boxes, knowledge graph boxes and carousels appearing within the organic listings. Just as the coveted top organic positions are currently being competed for, there is also more focus being done for trying to appear as a featured snippet.
  4. Google RankBrain: Google has been working on improving its machine learning, to help meet the different types of search queries being performed nowadays. As the rise in mobile searches has continued above traditional desktop queries, from the more long-tailed keywords rather than the 2-3 short-tail keyword queries, Google aims to understand user intent and the conversational type of searches. Google will continue to develop RankBrain which it announced last year as being the third most important signal for ranking.
  5. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP): Originally intended for News sites and help content publishers, Google has AMP pages, Google now has over 600 million AMP documents and is caching more and more. By creating a separate mobile index with its own ranking factors, files which utilise AMP will benefit from improved rankings, since the pages will load much faster in a stripped-down form of HTML.
  6. Voice Search: Given the fact that it is much easier to speak rather than type a query and with mobile searchers opting to use virtual assistants such as Siri, Cortana or Google Assistant, we expect to see a rise in long-tailed keyword queries, perhaps more question based searches such as “Where can I find a good SEO Company in Manchester” as opposed to just typing in “SEO Manchester” into Google etc.
  7. No Pop-Up Ads: From 10th January 2017, websites may not experience high Search Engine rankings if they feature any kind of obtrusive pop-ups or banners which block the intended Content behind it. This new type of signal has been eagerly awaited by many people and will significantly help users (and Search Engines) focus on getting the results they were seeking from their searches. Examples of methods which could lower the accessibility of a website’s content include popups which block the main content or showing a standalone advertisement before any access can be made to the content.
  8. App Marketing: More and more people are interacting with mobile apps nowadays and spending more time within an app. It is more possible now to obtain app data in order to create more valuable and relevant Content for improving user behaviour. From 2015 onwards, there has been a steady increase in app usage and we expect to see this trend continue into 2017.
  9. Super-Local SEO: Local Search has always been an important ranking factor with Google giving preference to companies which have a local presence online. As mobile and voice search continue to evolve into next year, we should see more focus on local SEO, particularly for business information which is integrated into mobile apps. Google is now able to extract the data which is contained within a mobile app and display it into the Search results pages.
  10. Epic Content: The old phrase of “Content is King”, declared by Bill Gates nearly two decades ago, is still applicable today. However, it is increasingly more difficult to rank highly for producing sub standard or republished content. With so much content being published online each day, the top organic SEO positions are becoming increasingly more competitive to rank for. Earlier this year, Rand Fishkin provided some guidance on how to produce content that is x10 better than your competitors in a Whiteboard Friday. To avoid the risk of your website being penalised or having any risk of copyright infringement, it is important to create relevant, fresh and unique content which is way above the standards of any other content out there on the same topic being targeted.

The Impact of Voice Search for SEO

There has been a sharp increase in voice search queries being carried out instead of the traditional typed search queries. Voice search is now the fastest growing search technique for users, since it has many benefits for people. It is quicker, easier and more natural to speak to your mobile rather than having to manually type in the keyword(s) you require.

According to a recent post featured on Google’s Official Blog, more than half of teens aged 13-18 use voice search on a daily basis and 41% of adults are doing so too. The most common types of search queries being made by voice include:

  • Asking for directions.
  • Dictation of texts.
  • Calling a person.
  • Help with homework or research.
  • Finding out film showing times.
  • Playing a song.
The Impact of Voice Search for SEO

An infographic produced by Net Sixty Six to highlight the impact of voice search on SEO.

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As the rise of mobile users sees more and more people owning Smartphones, there are many different voice programs installed which make the job of performing searches much more efficient to carry out – and effective too. Apple uses SIRI, whereas Microsoft features Cortana and Amazon uses Alexa. Google recently launched their very first Smartphone called the Pixel, the first phone to use their voice-based Assistant built in.

When typing in a phrase for a search, people tend to shorten the number of keywords, for example “SEO Manchester.” However, this is not mirrored by how we actually speak in a conversation, when we would be more likely to use a more sentence-like query, such as “Find an SEO agency based in Manchester.”

Search engines have been refining their algorithms over the years and Google’s Hummingbird update was aimed at improving “conversational search”, where people are using long-tail search queries (where many keywords are used together, as opposed to just one or two). Traditional search engines would look to find matches of the keywords in text on other websites whereas nowadays, they understand a user’s intent, with the whole query being taken into account.

What does voice search mean in terms of SEO?

When voice search was starting to evolve, there were widespread rumours that SEO was dead, since the short tail keywords could no longer be targeted in the same way, by incorporating them into existing content effectively. However, the focus has also been on the longer tail keywords, which are performed by users who are already at the advanced stages of their decision-making.

SEO specialists need to focus on both searchers who are researching and also wanting to obtain fast responses to their query, with instant results. Pages which are designed to meet the user’s needs have been favoured by Google so a page which includes in-depth answers to questions that start with “What is”, “Where is”, “Who is” and “How” will feature more prominently.

It is still relatively early days for voice search and we simply do not have enough data gathered to properly understand the role it plays on the web marketing world. The rise will continue further for instant answers being shown without search results. Search Engines’ algorithms will continue to improve their understanding of query data and user intent.

Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz, said in a Whiteboard Friday on this topic:  “in the future I think we’re actually going to be looking for keyword research tools that can perform a voice query and then can tell us what the results either look like or sound like from the engine.” He goes on to  sound a word of caution on purely focusing on voice search over traditional search data, since both sets of data have continued to rise – it’s just that voice search has risen faster.

Essentially, there is still a need for both to be included in any digital Marketing strategy until we can all try and figure out the impact together, as an industry.

Net Sixty Six SEO, 08 November 2016

10 SEO Methods from Hell: Infographic

Net Sixty Six’s lighthearted look at the SEO methods you shouldn’t be using on your website

Pumpkin Tree, Market Street, Manchester city centre.

Trick or Treat? Be wary of some of SEO methods which may be more trick than treat. This is a tree of pumpkins, situated close to Manchester Arndale on Market Street.

Halloween: whatever your opinions on this occasion, it adds colour to the streets. Shop windows and public places are adorned with pumpkins, witches, and broomsticks. Trick-treaters take to the streets in Halloween garb. Before you know it, Christmas is around the corner. Fittingly for All Hallow’s Eve, we have looked at the ten SEO methods and web development techniques you should refrain from using and created an infographic. Read more »

Christmas Lights Set for X-Citing Switch On

2015 X Factor winner Louisa Johnson has honour of switching on Manchester’s Christmas lights

Zippy Santa Christmas lights image.

Some of us old timers might remember the inflatable Santa astride the town hall clock tower, but the Zippy version of Father Christmas is a modern-day icon of Manchester’s Christmas lights. Image by TasfotoNL (via Shutterstock).

With Net Sixty Six SEO having Albert Square as a near neighbour, the joy of Christmas is only weeks away. As a curtain raiser to the highly-acclaimed Christmas Markets, is the city’s Christmas Lights switch-on. Read more »

Manchester Welcomes Oktoberfest

Meanwhile, the team at Net Sixty Six SEO Towers yearn to wear lederhosen and carry beer steins in Albert Square

Oktoberfest food and drink image by Timolina.

Traditional German food and drink: thanks to Manchester’s Oktoberfest, traditional Bavarian delights are a short bus, train, or tram ride away to Albert Square. Image by Timolina (via Shutterstock).

Only days after the Heroes Parade, Net Sixty Six are once at the heart of all the action in Manchester. Since Wednesday, some of our team have fancied donning the lederhosen, schunkeln, and imbibing some of Munich’s finest exports. Yes, after the triumphant success of the Heroes Parade which took part in Manchester City Centre earlier this week, another event is coming to our home city.

Read more »

Net Sixty Six SEO Welcomes Team GB

Congratulations to everyone from Team GB from Net Sixty Six SEO

John Dalton Street

John Dalton Street, late lunchtime: the Showsec team fitting the crowd control barriers for tonight’s celebrations of Team GB. All of this is happening on our doorstep. No, really.

Something amazing is happening a few yards from our office. Something of great historic importance for the city of Manchester as well as Team GB. From 4.30pm today, Manchester will play host to Team GB’s Homecoming Parade. The whole parade is set to take an hour to complete, from the Museum of Science and Industry in Castlefield, to Albert Square via Manchester Cathedral and the Arndale Centre. Read more »

24 Hour Google Digital Garage People

Could Google’s Digital Garage provide a catalyst for bricks and mortar retailers?

Cash register Digital Garage image.

Kerching…? Could Google’s Digital Garage be a shot in the arm for ‘bricks and mortar’ retailers? Image by Alexander Chaikin (via Shutterstock).

How many times is internet shopping blamed for killing off the traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer? Google thinks the above argument is old hat and believes internet shopping can coexist alongside the High Street or retail park. Their Digital Garage scheme aims to bridge the divide. Read more »

Penguin 4.0 Goes for Real Time Updates

How Google’s Penguin 4.0 update differs from its predecessors

Four penguins (well, for a piece on Penguin 4.0, it is appropriate).

Search engine results, as it happens: Penguin 4.0 is set to create drastic changes to the way in which Google indexes our websites. Image by Fieldwork (via Shutterstock).

Ladies and Gentlemen: it gives us great pleasure to announce that the days of big bang Google updates are over. Long live the Penguin. Woah, stop there…! Before you reach for the champagne, Prosecco or fizzy Vimto, we at Net Sixty Six SEO would like to tell you about a new kind of Google update. Let us introduce you to Penguin 4.0. Read more »

Facebook in Fake News Feed Shocker

Sacking of human editors sees a surge of fake news stories on social networking site

Facebook Fake News image

All the fake news that is fit to print: Facebook has landed themselves in hot water with the sacking of human news editors. Image file includes newspaper outline by RTimages, Moonscape by Helen Field, and AVRO Lancaster Bomber silhouette by Mark Fearon (all via Shutterstock).

(Westminster chimes)

Lead Newscaster: Transfer Deadline Day sees David Luiz move to West Didsbury and Chorlton.

Second Newscaster: Donald Trump plans to build a wall around the M25 motorway.

Lead Newscaster: Also tonight… Hillary Clinton appeals to Brexiteers at a Manchester conference.

Second Newscaster: Facebook under fire for fake news feeds.

Lead Newscaster: Also in sport, crown green bowls is set to become an Olympic sport.

Spot the genuine news story of the quintet of headlines: it is the fourth news item in our sketch. This week, Net Sixty Six have learned about Facebook’s fake news feeds. The social networking giant has fired eighteen editorial contractors. This has seen a move towards the greater use of algorithms for the site’s trending topics. Read more »

Verizon Buys Yahoo for $5 Billion

Verizon buys core assets of venerable search engine sold, but Yahoo retains stake in Yahoo! Japan and AliBaba

Yahoo Classified Ad (Sold to Verizon)

After years of speculation over its future, Yahoo! the long-established search engine and web directory will be sold to Verizon Wireless for $4.8 billion (£3.7 billion). The sale of its core business will see the Sunnydale company retain a stake in Yahoo Japan and AliBaba. The figure, referred to as “chump change” by some commentators sees the sale of its real estate, though not its intellectual property. Read more »