SEO in 2017: All About User Experience

Fitness and wellness site owners are often led to believe that SEO is just a matter of knowing the right tricks. Master those tricks, and Google will catapult your site to the top of their results. However, Google and other search engines have grown extremely adept at detecting any attempt to achieve artificially high rankings. In 2017 search engines penalize site owners for tricks like “keyword stuffing” and “link spam.” Sites with in-depth, original content and an exceptional user experience reap SEO rewards. This is great news for site owners in the fitness and wellness space, who would prefer to focus on member sign-ups, rather than ever-changing algorithms.

Rethinking keywords and backlinks

These are two areas that many site owners have been led to believe they must master in order to rank high in search results. Keywords and backlinks are still relevant today, but a lot has changed. In 2017, old assumptions about the importance of keywords and backlinks can easily lead to “keyword stuffing” and “link spam.” Considering that Google has fine-tuned its algorithms to recognize these practices, they will hurt your SEO more than help it.

Avoiding “keyword stuffing”

Site owners often hear that they need to stuff their content with keywords that potential customers are searching for on Google. For example, if you run a yoga studio in Santa Barbara, you may feel pressured to constantly repeat “Santa Barbara” and “yoga” on every page. You certainly want to include those keywords when relevant, but do so sparingly. If Google detects evidence of unnecessary usage of keywords, a practice known as “keyword stuffing,” they may penalize your site for it.

Google now tends to favor content containing a broader range of relevant keywords that often occur naturally within a rich, in-depth treatment of your topic.

Avoiding “link spam”

Site owners often feel pressured to get backlinks to their site by any means possible. Google has highly sophisticated ways of sniffing out sites that are generating backlinks not by merit, but by other means that Google considers “link spam.”

Of course, backlinks still matter. Search engines look for links clearly inspired by a genuine appreciation of your site’s great user experience and original content.

SEO in 2017 is about user experience

While keywords and backlinks will always carry some weight, the center of gravity in SEO is content quality and user experience. This is welcome news for businesses owners, especially in the fitness and wellness space. Rather than trying to master keyword-density or generate backlinks, focus on in-depth fitness and wellness content and an intuitive experience. After all, in 2017 search engines are trying to think like their users. Use of mobile devices for browsing continues to grow so search engines reward mobile-friendly sites. Search engine users don’t want to wait for pages to load, so sites with fast-loading times get rewarded. Search engines reward fresh, original, in-depth treatments of topics.

Have a look at Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and SEO Starter Guide for their latest recommendations.

A new outlook

Overall, an SEO plan primarily focused on keyword-density and backlink-count is not a viable option. In 2017 Google penalizes sites with abnormally high concentrations of narrow keywords or loads of questionable backlinks. Sites with a great user experience are rewarded. It’s time to turn your focus on what truly makes users happy: fast-loading, mobile-friendly sites with intuitive functionality and fresh, original, in-depth content.

Contact us to learn more about SEO in 2017.