3 Big SEO Changes for 2017 – What You Should Know

3-BIG-SEO-Changes-for-2017_GP-300x251 3 Big SEO Changes for 2017 - What You Should Know  Have you noticed the subtle changes to SEO that have been happening?

Here are three big changes; what you need to know; and how to implement changes on your website and in marketing efforts to effectively use SEO to your firm’s advantage in 2017.

Meta Descriptions

The Change

A meta description is the copy you see below a search result’s headline. For example, if you search for “accounting firms estate planning” you will get results with a headline link followed by a sentence. The sentence is the meta description tag.

Example

[Headline] Estate Planning | Trust Planning | CPA Firm

[Meta Description] Our estate and trust planning professionals work with clients to identify and implement effective short- and long-term estate and trust planning…

The change search engines are making is a shift from the amount of weight a meta description has on the overall search ranking for a site. According to a webcast by MOZ co-founder, Rand Fishkin, the meta description tag will still be important for click-thrus to the site, but is not as important for website rankings.

The Solution

To encourage people to click on your search results content, thus accessing your site, change your meta description tags to be more like email subject lines, including several of these elements:

  • Personalization
  • Action-oriented verbs, such as “advance,” “halt,” “imagine,” “drive,” “enforce,” etc.
  • Timeliness
  • Value proposition
  • Brevity (7-10 words or no more than 160 characters)

Example

[Headline] Estate Planning | Trust Planning | CPA Firm

[Meta Description – 150 characters] A little advanced planning goes a long way for your loved ones. Get the estate planning tips you need before it’s too late. Make an appointment today.

Where do you find a meta description tag?

The meta description is placed in code on each website page, blog post, landing page, etc. If you’re using WordPress, or something similar, it’s important to include an SEO plug-in to ensure you can add this information to your website code for search engine indexing.

Keywords

Just when you think you know the keywords to use on your site, in headings, copy, image alt tags, etc. the search engine algorithm changes. Causing you to rethink those words and how they are used.

Here’s what’s happening.

The major search engines are considering the intent of keywords in a search to match with relevant websites. For example, if your firm specializes in auditing manufacturing companies, and used “auditing manufacturing companies” as one of your website SEO keyword phrases, your firm’s brand is more likely to show up in search results for manufacturing firms than it would for audits.

This may be easier to demonstrate using a B2C example – if you baked cakes and used “cake baking” as one of your keywords, your brand is more likely to show up in search results for weddings than it would for bakeries. 

Knowing how to leverage keyword phrases on your website and content pages will help drive click thru rates via search engines and help fulfill the searchers need, which is the search engine’s goal.

Heading Tags on Pages

In the recent past, you may have heard an SEO professional mention one of the key elements of SEO is heading tags, particularly H1 tags, which appear on pages as large, bold headlines.

This will still be somewhat true in 2017, but the exception is that it won’t hold more weight than any other heading tag on a page, which is different than in the past.

What search engines would rather see on a page is a lead sentence or two about the content on that page above any headline tags, similar to a newspaper story’s lead sentence.

Example

[Blog post headline] 3 Big SEO Changes for 2017 – What You Should Know

[Lead sentence] Have you noticed the subtle changes to SEO that have been happening during 2016’s final quarter? Here are three big changes; what you need to know; and how to implement changes on your website and in marketing efforts to effectively use SEO to your firm’s advantage in 2017.

[First Heading] Meta Descriptions

Next Steps

These changes may not seem monumental in the scheme of everything your firm is trying to accomplish; but, if ensuring your firm’s name is listed on the first page of search results for particular service lines or industries, these changes may have a huge impact on achieving that goal.

Take the time now to go through your site’s top pages and apply these changes to them. Create a phased approach to do the same on secondary pages on the site.

Then, going forward apply these changes to new content on your site. Working with a professional SEO consultant who understands your industry and client’s industries could be key to helping your reach success.

How are you using your website to attract new clients and increase your reach within an industry? SEO might be the key you’ve been looking for.

 

Disclaimer: This post originally appeared in the CPA Client Bulletin Resource Guide, © 2016, AICPA. Reprinted by permission.

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