While this approach has some caveats – the pages are hosted by Google and cached locally on its servers – the result is near-instantaneous loading. The product is available for news, blog posts, and other assets, and clever search marketers are already figuring out ways to use it more broadly.
Google News isn't new of course, but it remains a considerable traffic producer for publishers and content sites, and coupled with AMP, it can be a potent search visibility play. There hasn't been any meaningful monetization of News yet by Google.
Local search results are ubiquitous and will only become more prevalent. Google reports nearly one-third of all searches on mobile are related to location. Regardless of platform, on both mobile and desktop, local inventory is rising and often dominates above-the-fold real estate. It's critical that brands with physical locations put resources into ensuring that their information is accurate and relevant.
Where to Invest in 2017?
While helpful to understand the market dynamics and the SEO opportunities available to search marketers, the key question is still: What do you prioritize and where do you invest?
In my view, there are three critical areas where brands should be looking to put investment in the coming year:
The analogy of building a house is relevant: Without first building a strong foundation, it doesn't matter what kind of house you build on top. Think of your technical infrastructure as the foundation of your website properties.
Technical strength is a must, but don't settle for basic methods. Ask your team and your agency these questions first: Are we inspecting the DOM and fully rendered page for signal consistency? Are we doing all we can with mobile app indexing and deep links? How is our mobile site performing? Or, if you've gone responsive, ask your team if they're looking into progressive Web apps.
Content Throughout the Customer Journey
As SEO evolves within the enterprise, so does its relationship to content strategy. Rather than leading content planning, SEO should instead inform it.
Leverage search data and align it with audience demographics to understand gaps in content inventory and their impact on task completion and conversion, and test content initiatives to find out what's working.
Most importantly, don't write with search engines in mind with a desire to rank for general terms. Write with your users in mind, and be targeted, relevant and focused on the user experience. Content strategy is not about keywords and their search volume. It's about multiple stakeholders aligned on the common goal of performance, with the content strategist, information architect, SEO and user experience designer (for example) all working toward that end.
Brands investing in SEO today should think of overall discoverability. Rather than a static "10 blue links" of yesterday, marketers are dealing with personalization, platforms, location, devices and voice search all representing unique opportunities to be visible.
SEO is more complex than ever. Marketers have a long list of tactics available to them, and it’s easy to get caught up with projects that won’t contribute to the bottom line. There are more opportunities than ever, and brands that develop an SEO strategy that invests in areas where the greatest business impact can be achieved will reap the benefits.
Focus on mobile, customer experience journeys and your technical foundation to move to the next level of SEO strategy. It's still early out there, and first-mover advantage remains a competitive reality. Either you'll be in front, or your competition will be, and SEO is a zero-sum game. Get out in front.