Keeping track of all the changes in the vast world of SEO is difficult. You might finally get the hang of one SEO strategy, only to learn that it’s outdated or now forbidden by Google, and you have to learn a whole new strategy.
We wanted to know what to expect from SEO in the future, so we reached out to 39 experts and asked them this question:
What are your top 3 SEO trends for 2017 and beyond?
Among the main trends identified by experts are optimization for Mobile (18 votes), Quality and Epic Content (13 votes), Voice Search (9 votes), Micro Formats (7 votes), Artificial Intelligence (5 votes).
Technical SEO (AMP pages, Mobile Apps SEO, as they now show up in search results) is becoming important. With the rise of AI as the trend, content might end up being generated by machines.
It is important to optimize for micro formats and local SEO. Whether it’s long form or short form content, it has to be epic. With YouTube being the second largest search engine, Video is on the rise.
Many of their responses point in the direction of having more video content, mobile optimization, optimizing for topics over keywords, voice search over keyboard search, faster page loading speed, actionable content, and quality over quantity in regards to content.
Aaron Wall is a SEO Expert who studied search extensively since 2003. Learn more about Aaron at seobook.com.
The Squeeze: The shift of formerly free/organic traffic streams to paid channels as the regular results are displaced by a combination of more & larger ads along with scrape-n-displace vertical search listings.
Market Consolidation: Aggressive consolidation among vertical search platforms to counter Google & Facebook chewing up more of the value chain by extending their ad programs and hosting more content on Facebook Instant Articles & Google AMP. You are already seeing this in areas like travel where Expedia acquired Travelocity & Orbitz.
Algorithmically Generated Content: The rise of blended “algorithmic” content, both in terms of perhaps Facebook & Google & other big platform players created automated solutions as a hedge to create buy in for their “host your content on our site” offerings, but also by publishers in response to the lower publisher margins from both the above shifts combined with the rise of ad blockers and the shift of audiences to mobile where ads yield a lower CPM (due to conversion being significantly more difficult) and fewer ads can be shown per pageload (due to the smaller screen size). As bad as mobile is for companies built around desktop ads or print ads, voice search and AI chat bots will be even uglier, because the instant answer scrape for many common queries won’t even deliver the publisher of the source material a single page load, and many of the formerly free direct navigation visitors will turn into something you now have to pay for, thus turning brand awareness from an asset to an expensive liability.
Adam Connell is a blogger, marketer, and entrepreneur. Find more about him at www.adamconnell.me.
1) Optimize for user intent, not keywords – keywords are still a big deal in a way, but it’s more about answering search queries directly than using traditional on-page SEO. That means your content needs to deliver on the promises made in your headlines & meta descriptions, although Google will sometimes use its own headline and/or meta description. Keep your focus not just on user experience, but the usability of your content too – the easier you make it for people to put the information to use, the better.
2) Links still have mileage left – links are still important and they will be for a while longer. Quality has been important for a while now, but it’s going to be even more important as time goes on. Creating content that’s geared to earn links is the way to go. But as ever with link building, it’s not about using tactics that work now, it’s about what will work in the future. Why? because Google applies penalties retroactively and recovering is hard work (and costly).
3) Page load times will become more important – as mobile searches continue to increase, I reckon we’ll see page loading times become a slightly more significant ranking factor. The good news is that hosting technology is getting better, and leveraging Google AMP to accelerate mobile loading times is easier than ever.
Andy Crestodina is the co-founder and strategic director at Orbit Media.
Keywords are out. Topics are in.
Google will continue to evolve into a semantic search engine, which means that smart marketers will focus on topics, not just keywords. It’s called semantic SEO. They key is to find and use all the words and phrases related to your primary phrase, thereby spreading out your content across the broader topic.
For “transactional searches” which is any search where the visitor is looking to buy something, Google’s organic search results will be crowded out by ads. It’s the evolution of universal search results and it means billions in profits for Google. Visitors who don’t like it will move over to Duck Duck Go in a steady trickle.
Google will buy Twitter.
Yes, this is going to happen. I’m telling you now so you won’t be surprised. It will happen suddenly, but the changes that follow will be very gradual over several years. Eventually, Twitter will integrate seamlessly into Google+ and AdWords will appear in Twitter streams.
One thing that has consistently changed in SEO is the search results and they will continue to change.
The goal of optimization – to rank well in search and to increase qualified traffic coming to your site – has stayed the same and will continue to be important. Some of the trends to watch, which will affect the search results and how to best optimize a website are:
Increase of voice search
Integration of semantic search (through deep learning)
– More long-tail, conversational queries from users
Google uses artificial intelligence to generate SERPs these days. The search results become better and people start using broader more conversational queries to find information online. I think, it creates tremendous opportunities, as many websites that dominate the SERPs today are too slow to adapt. Many of our clients are getting incredible results by targeting long-tail keywords. Quite often these keywords have low competition and bring traffic that converts very very well.
– Continuous growth of mobile
As we know, more and more people are using their mobile devices as the primary source of information these days. It changes things quite a bit, and I think creates many opportunities for SEO professionals. Besides the basic mobile optimization, I think that many digital marketers need to think mobile first when creating content for some topics.
– Wider adoption of voice search
As voice recognition algorithms are getting better I think that in 2017 onwards more people will be using voice search on mobile. Most likely, searching for information, asking Google questions and using conversational queries will become mainstream.
Sometimes it is difficult to figure what to focus on when looking forward because so many people write articles claiming SEO has completely changed from one year to the next. Despite the many claims out there, rankings factors are unlikely to drastically change from one year to the next, but technology has forced major change in a relatively short amount of time.
Local-specific AdWords placements possibly decreasing organic results – The increasingly mobile-first world will drive one of the biggest changes in search engine optimization for 2017 and beyond, particularly for small businesses competing in local search as Google looks to better monetize mobile search because according to Google, nearly one third of mobile searches on Google have local intent. Google has rolled out local search ads in Google Maps and is set to place ads in the local 3-pack that may include a top listing as an ad, followed by only two organic listings.
Action step: Businesses should look at local search holistically and test local-specific AdWords placements in conjunction with their local SEO efforts.
Keywords are not dead, but intentions and topics are also becoming important – Saying keywords are dead makes for a catchy blog post title, but they are not dead. Google is not human which is why specific keywords help it understand what your pages are about, advancements such as machine learning are paving the way for search engines to better understand your content.
Action step: Go beyond optimizing pages for keywords by using hierarchy in your URL structure to build out sections of your website for each topic.
Voice search is the next frontier – In the near future voice search will compete with text search and making a big prediction, in the distant future it will be all around us. When voice control and search evolves to serve as a proper personal assistant it will be in your car, all around your house similar to Amazon Echo, and become so useful that smart homes will become the norm.
Action step: For now, pay attention to what dominates the landscape with voice search results and optimize for the type of results returned. For example, on an iPhone, if you ask SIRI, “find a LASIK eye surgeon near me” Yelp listings will appear, so it is a good idea to put effort into your Yelp listing.
I think the top 3 trends of 2017 and beyond will actually be just one broad trend, Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is already and will continue to fundamentally change how search engines rank web documents. The affect on marketers will be that they need to stop relying on specific individual optimizations (like H1s or Alt Text) and they will need to start working on greater, more valuable pieces of content that are optimized for how humans (and subsequently computers) interpret, comprehend and learn from and share information online.
Influencer marketing is trending more than ever. As bloggers acquire larger more engaged audiences, brands want to work with them. They’re seeing this as more cost effective and a less interruptive form of marketing.
2) UI UX
There are still a lot of websites that aren’t optimized for good UIUX, including slow load times, confusing navigation, and a poor mobile experience.
But we’re getting better about it.
And I think in 2017 you’ll continue to see more focus on this.
At the end of the day I still think link building, typically the kind acquired through outreach + content marketing, is the most effective way to improve your ranking, and I don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
The top 3 SEO trends for 2017 are mobile, mobile, mobile. The world is going mobile, and as it does, the tail will begin wagging the dog. By the end of 2017, I expect that even desktop searches will be influenced by mobile optimization.
OK, I cheated with that answer, so here are two more trends for 2017.
Social gets more important in the SERPS. Google still hasn’t given up on Google Plus, and now it has another reason to hold on. Microsoft is now in the social media game, having purchased LinkedIn (which also owns SlideShare). And Twitter has been bought by…hold on, we’ll have to wait to see, Apple, perhaps? So watch for more social media integration.
IOT. Yes, by 2017 my guess is that the Internet of Things will have begun. Search and GPS and online ordering (to fill one’s fridge, perhaps?) and social media will begin the process of interconnecting. If you are ready to woof your cookies if you see just one more “Look what I’m having for dinner” tweet, just wait for those “Look what’s growing at the back of my fridge” tweets. Yum.
Like always, there will probably be SEO “trends” for 2017, but I don’t pay attention to them. In this industry, trends don’t last very long, are usually over-hyped, and result in short-term gains at the expense of long-term gains. Look at things like guest-o-graphics and other copy and paste techniques from the last few years. They might have worked initially, but now whenever I receive one of these “outreach” attempts, I ignore it. Instead, I suggest that anybody who wants to do in SEO should just carry on with the standard best practices. Things that will last no matter what year it is.
1.) Build links via relationships. There’s nothing better than building relationships.
2.) Keep focusing on putting out good content. This doesn’t just mean content for the sake of content though.
Top 3 SEO trends? I’d say the best advice I can give is 1. Stop worrying about SEO trends; 2. Worry about putting together real marketing campaigns that are going to get people talking about your product and service; and 3. Pay attention to how people use your website, what they’re looking for, and tracking what they do so you can improve on the user experience and convert more sales. If you focus on #2 and #3 then you won’t have to worry about “SEO trends”.
We’ve definitely moved into a more interesting time for search – not only in terms of how to get in front of the searcher, but also the level of technology to search on. Look at the variety of mobile devices we now have, up to and including Google Glasses and smart watches. We used to tell people that they might want to start looking at making sure they have a mobile website. Now we’re telling them, “Make it responsive or go home and quit.”
Local: Global is all well and good, but local is where the real action is at. People usually look to find if an international company has a local office. If you’re an international company, you need to have your locations separated out and clear as to where they are. No more, “oh yeah, and we’re also in…” Local citations are strong signals, and important for local rank as well as mobile rank.
Structured data & direct answers: Aim for Google’s direct answer box and rich snippets. If you can mark up your site with schema, microformats or other markup, do!
Garth O’Brien is the Director and Global Head of SEO for GoDaddy. Find more about him atwww.garthobrien.com.
Page speed must be on the 2017 roadmap if your site has load issues. Speed directly impacts ranking and conversion. More than 50% of the global search queries are executed on a mobile device. Do you really want to only reach half of your revenue earning potential?
Chasing Featured Snippets is going to explode in 2017. Many have overlooked this new feature and they are already paying for it. When Google removed the right rail ads and injected a fourth Paid ad placement pushing Organic down a spot we all were impacted. Earning the coveted Featured Snippet is a firehose of traffic and help off-set any loss from the new Paid ads placement.
Finally, content, content and more content. This will never come off the list of top trends. Hire good writers and publish quality articles, blog posts, guides and more. Publish videos and flock to YouTube. If you are not on YouTube publishing video content then you are insane. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. Over 50% of my initial search is conducted in YouTube. I would rather watch the solution than read a treatise that may or may not have any images.
One of the top SEO trends coming very soon will be the consideration for new search verticals which reflect constant changes in how people access information. Specifically, the internet connected devices and homes which afford voice search will start to become the focus of SEO strategy. Google has hinted that voice search data is coming to the Search Console (webmaster tools), and anything that can be measured can be optimized.
Another trend I see happening is the last hold-outs of businesses who haven’t invested in SEO are doing so. Digital marketing has skyrocketed in importance and budgets over the last few years, but because SEO is arguably the hardest to do, this is often a neglected channel. As more business owners become aware of this value (both in small businesses and mega corporations) having an SEO strategy will be as crucial as having a business card.
Finally, the last SEO trend which will happen is a resurgence of technical SEO. As more sites move to advanced technologies like Angular JS and other methods which allow pre-rendering, super fast load times, and app-like websites, it will be extremely important to ensure these new implementations are search-friendly.
Voice Search – In the next few years I can see voice search being used more and more by the public. This will mean that SEOs will need to think about ways in which they can capture more traffic from voice search. How will users’ search patterns change or will they stay the same? This is something you need to think about.
SEOs will need to focus on long tail – Google is adding more advertising listings and taking away space from organic listings, this means that SEOs will need to focus more on mid-long tail terms.
Using more social data for SEO – For many years we have been helping clients use social media data in SEO projects for example using Twitter search data, Instagram data, hashtag data and social web data to assist with projects. The thing about using data from Google Keyword Tool data for SEO means your query data is limited where using fresh social data will be helpful especially on new product launches. You need to be using data from numerous sources to assist with SEO. Do not limit yourself.
Also from a marketing point of view I see far more growth in Marketing Automation tools and services in the market.
AI will slowly change the landscape.People already know about RankBrain. AI will only improve things more.
The slow pull away from long-form content.10x content isn’t necessarily long form. In an interview I did with Steve Rayson of Buzzsumo for the Content Promotion Summit, he shares that 81 of the top 100 most shared B2B articles were short form content and details their place.
Computer generated articles will begin to rank.The only way to set yourself apart will be to have an unique voice.
Mobile-based search is on the rise now, and will continue through 2017 and beyond. That means more search queries are entered on-the-go, which means they’ll naturally take on more of a local focus. Additionally, with the rise of digital assistants like Siri, more and more of the queries will be spoken, which means they’ll be formatted as natural speech rather than written text. So, SEO strategies will need to adapt to become more mobile-centric and content strategies will need to adapt to answering spoken queries.
Mobile optimization will become non-optional. Mobile optimization is already extremely important, but by 2017 it won’t be optional anymore – not having a properly-displaying website on mobile devices will significantly imperil any SEO efforts.
Link building will become even more important as a ranking signal. Good links are harder than ever to acquire, which makes them a better ranking signal than ever before.
Jen Van Iderstyne is the resident SEO rockstar at Overit.
At only halfway through 2016 it’s possible that there could be game-changing events in the next 6 months, but barring any major shakeups I believe we’ll see a lot of the same trends continuing.
Mobile – The last few years have seen SEOs turning their attention to mobile accessibility and visibility. Traffic distribution by device has been slowly shifting over time and may well surpass desktop traffic for many sites in the coming years, if it hasn’t already. That being the case, a big focus will remain on speed, mobile friendliness and localization. This may also mean increased use of schema and page optimization that is more conscientious of spacial restraints.
Social Media Search – This is an interesting one. While the correlation between social signals and rankings may continue to be indirect, social media channels serving as Search Engines themselves is on the rise. Additionally, there are searches where results from platforms like Twitter or Pinterest have integrated into Google Search Results. This will likely continue to drive up social content creation along with profile usage and optimization.
Content Asset Diversification – Finally, we’ve seen this also trending in recent history, but it should continue to be a dedicated time investment. The nature of universal search that incorporates, images, video, news, local results, social media content, featured snippets and the knowledge graph (among others) will continue to push SEOs to have a diversified scope of assets. This is also likely to lend itself to increased use of schema, in addition to other means of becoming optimized and relevant across a number of different mediums.
More Data Coming in for Webmasters – Google is giving more data to analyze for webmasters.
Google will work into alerting webmasters more – Google has expanded their alerts for webmasters.
Technical SEO will highly be in demand – Since Google is continuously improving SERPs for (desktop/mobile/tablet) SEOs will need to adapt and learn more things to comply with the changes. This may include Java, Knowledge Graph, AMP and a lot more.
Some SEO practices are still working and can provide results. But focusing on the common practices may not be enough to perform better in search since there are a lot of signals Google has been utilizing when ranking pages.
Marcus Miller is an SEO & PPC strategist at Bowler Hat. Find more about him on Twitter.
Google has made some quite considerable changes to the search results over the last 18 months. We see them every day at Bowler Hat so it is not always so apparent but when we look back we have lost ads on the right hand side of the page, seen more ads at the top of the page, the local results have been reduced from 7 results down to a measly 3 and we may soon see this reduced to 2 organic local spots as Google has just announced that ads are coming to the local pack.
The winds of change are blowing in search and as such my three trends are as follows:
Organic SEO is getting more competitive. We are not just looking at competition from other businesses but from adverts from major brands from location based search. The days of ruling the roost for many businesses are over and now a larger slice of traffic is going to an ever smaller set of sites. Google also continues to tweak the ad layouts and with the latest move to green ad labels the line between paid and organic results gets ever thinner.
Certainly, the entire strategy for organic needs to change for many businesses and we have to focus on the more content led efforts to rank for informational terms that drive awareness. Organic search will become an ever more top of the funnel strategy for many businesses.
For local businesses competition is coming from traditional ads, proposed local ads and from ever more search savvy brands that are starting to throw their weight around in the local listings.
If you want to win in organic search in 2017 and beyond you have to get serious now. SEO is no longer an easy option and requires investment and commitment just like every other established and mature marketing channel.
Mobile continues to grow and particularly in the B2C markets we see a continued dip in desktop and tablet traffic. As mobile phones continue to improve and technologies like Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) help optimize the mobile experience we see customers ever more confident to use the humble smartphone as the primary Internet device. We are currently working with a customer in the leisure industry that sees over 90% of traffic and around 75% of conversions from smartphones.
We still see too many websites that are built with the traditional desktop mentality and then mobile is a secondary consideration. Certainly, mobile now needs to be given equal consideration and in many cases the experience should be flipped on its head with mobile being the first and primary consideration.
Google is getting smarter. The days of a single algorithm for ranking website results are long past. We do still see some legacy SEO and link building techniques having more success than they should but the upcoming real time Penguin algorithm should hopefully take care of that. RankBrain combined with other key algorithm elements will allow Google to utilize AI to fine tune the signals for a given category, location or even keyword. Search will get smarter and ever more refined.
Organic SEO is maturing and that means more brands, more ads and more competition. Search engines are everywhere and the younger generations have never known a world without search. From voice search to the integration of search with even more of our life ensuring you have SEO considerations in your marketing plan will become ever more important in 2017 and beyond.
1) The rise of content marketing will continue, but that rise will effectively price out most small business. For some time small business has been able to produce content that’s effectively good enough, simply by using their personal expertise. As content marketing has started to deliver bigger results, larger businesses have caught on. Executives are now producing content and big business has the budget to produce memorable content on a daily basis.
2) Video will continue to gain prominence. For all we talk about Bing and Amazon, Youtube gets really what amounts to a fraction of the attention, but it’s the world’s second largest search engine. When video is combined with an easy to use, cheap, transcription service you have a winning SEO team. Plus, video can be incredibly easy to produce.
3) Last but not least, there’s going to be a ton of conversation about how SEO is both dead and too competitive these days. I think that conclusion relies on a bunch of faulty assumptions and that a smart, resourceful small business can still rank for incredibly competitive keywords if they’re patient.
Whether it’s RankBrain or Hummingbird – it doesn’t matter – Google has become proficient at understanding the topic represented by the collection of words on a page. They no longer have to rely entirely on things like the page title, H1 heading, anchor text in links to the page, or repetitions of keywords. As an example, this page ranks #4 for “tahiti weather”…yet not only is the phrase “tahiti weather” not in the page title, or on the page anywhere, but the word “weather” is not present anywhere in the page – not even in ALT text or image filenames. Google is seeing that much of the page consists of words like “temperature”, “precipitation”, “cyclone”, “season”, etc. and understanding that collectively those terms make up a discussion of the weather. SEO tools company Moz has recently launched their Related Topics feature, and tools like Ultimate Keyword Hunter have appeared on the market to help web marketers figure out what terms you need to have on a page for a given topic to show Google a thorough discussion of that topic on your page. For now, and 2017 and beyond, the keyword research task has expanded to become topical research.
#2 Content Publishing Quality over Quantity: Google is looking at engagement signals on every piece of content you put up on your site. I think Google is measuring how engaged people get with your content (whether it’s links, bounce rates, social shares or whatever), and not just ranking that piece of content based on its engagement, but from what I’ve seen, it appears that the site is getting “scored” on overall engagement. So, you’re better off to publish 1 new post a month that gets a handful of links/shares/etc. than to publish 100 posts a month where only 5 of them get that same handful of links/shares/etc. In other words, Google is looking at: when you say something, what percentage of the time does anyone care? They can use this scoring to rank new content from your site even before it’s had time to get engagement.
#3 Schema.org: while webmasters have been implementing schema.org for quite some time now, Google has really only been using it to extract rich snippets (like ratings stars, breadcrumbs, price and availability, event dates, etc.) for the search results. They’ve done a little work with schema for the Knowledge Graph as well, but for most non-brand queries, schema markup isn’t really having that much effect. I’m expecting that Google will start using schema markup both as a site quality and richness indicator (i.e., affecting rankings), and for creating carousel-like results for certain searches, with Knowledge Graph-like summary data on each result in the list.
Michael Yurechko is the founder of Verev, a search agency based in Vancouver, Canada. Find more about him at www.verev.com and on Twitter.
# Branded Traffic
If you’re not building a brand and getting regular searches for your brand, you may be irrelevant come 2017. Branding is more important than ever and branded search traffic will have a bigger impact on Google’s trust for your domain than links in some instances. Start building branded resources that encourage users to search for “brand + <thing>”.
# Link Traffic
Just as branded traffic is important, so is link traffic. Essentially: links from pages with regular search & social activity will hold more weight than just a link from a page with good traditional (page rank) metrics. My measurement for a good link has always been one that drives relevant, quality traffic and I believe Google will be looking at these exact metrics more in 2017.
# More PPC Competition, You Need To Stand Out
Google has been testing new layouts and styles for Adwords ads, making them look more and more like organic search results and blending them into the page above & below organic results. It’s going to be more important than ever to properly craft enticing titles & meta descriptions to stand out, as well as utilizing all relevant Schema markup on your sites to get a CTR advantage over your competitors.
More search going Mobile and Local. Largely driven by increase in Voice search.
Google monetizing the new found mobile and local search with direct ads in local organic listings that are hard to differentiate between paid and organic.
More vertical specific competition coming from Google spelling a further end to directory type websites in certain industries.
Basically, local will because an optimize to play, but pay to compete space more and more. Businesses will lose search traffic but will gain knowledge graph type information that is easily accessible directly from search engines and we will start to see what the future of SERPS are that don’t appear onscreen.
Nate Shivar is a digital marketing consultant. Find more about him at ShivarWeb and on Twitter.
Audience fragmentation – SEO will continue to go beyond Google Search on desktop. Audiences will continue searching on a wider range of devices, platforms, and places. The division between large “head” terms and the “long-tail” terms will continue to get sharper.
Technical compatibility – The range of devices, platforms and web development technologies will continue to grow. That will continue the trend of SEOs making it all work together.
User experience for searchers – Although there’s plenty of UX focus on homepages, onboarding sequences and app home screens, there will continue to be a need for a “searcher’s advocate” for users who land on specific pages via search.
Oleg Korneitchouk is the Director of Marketing at SmartSites. Follow Oleg on Twitter.
1) Engaging/interactive pages with content – there is so much content being pumped out on a daily basis, websites need to stand out in order to win links and improve rankings.
2) Topical authorities – Websites that cover specific topics in depth – with multiple articles supporting the topics – will rank better than those with a more mixed theme to their content. A site that dedicates many pages to a topic will tend to have more useful information for the searcher.
3) Editorial links – More and more emphasis is being placed on high quality backlinks that can only be earned. 1 editorial link from a news site or popular blog can improve rankings way more than hundreds of links from low quality websites.
Mobile – We’re already in the mobile-first generation, and both mobile optimization and mobile strategy are going to be key for most websites moving forwards.
Voice Search – Generation Y are already naturally adopting voice search, and Google claims it is the fastest growing type of search – it is definitely going to play a big part in SEO in the years to come.
Personalization – Personal assistant style ‘bots’ on our devices seem inevitable, and they will aim to plug the context gap currently between users and search engines, leading to a hyper-personalized experience.
Shane Barker is a digital strategist. Find more about him at ShaneBarker.
#1 – Influencer Outreach – With ad blocking becoming increasingly popular and people trusting individuals over banner ads, building links and creating content with the help of influencers will be a popular method for marketers to boost their SEO efforts.
#2 – Structured Data or Semantic Markup – Structured data will continue to gain ground in the SEO world as highly structured information makes it easier for search engines to organize and display rich snippets in search results.
#3 – Mobile Search – The continued growth in the mobile search automatically results in the rise of competition. Now a site is not only required to be responsive but fully Mobile optimized to convert and rank well.
1 – Keyboard search is on its way out. Speak search will likely own the rest of this decade. Imagine tools such as Feedly narrating feeds on voice command while you’re commuting to work. Smart SEOs will be running studies to understand how consumers search and create content that is the most useful to speak-to-search users. Smarter marketers will create cooperatives to pool resources for celebrity voice narrators to read content to the user.
2 – VR has a very strong likelihood of replacing home desktop. People will really be attracted to Minority Report-style searching and selections. Smart SEOs will start sketching out experiences that blow people’s minds on Oculus, and future VR devices.
3 – There is a lot of spam and browser-emulators performing queries and skewing search volume data. Authenticity could start to be validated through bio-metrics (fingerprint login for example) and may feed into search engine rankings as a small signal, particularly when search engines ask “was this a good result?” for users who login to Google via fingerprint. This will likely start with local search, since NFC can be validated and because beacons don’t lie. SEOs practicing grey or black hat techniques will need to shift toward content marketing and influencer marketing strategies.
BONUS: Building a calendar around content creation with question-based and “tips” queries can drive incremental traffic, and become awesome link bait if the answer truly is the most useful result in the search results. Tools such as answerthepublic.com make the research task simple, particularly when combined with Google’s own AdWords Keyword Planner.
When you ask for the top three “SEO” trends for 2017 you are already a bit stuck in the past when SEO was much more important than now. Why? Many of the “SEO” trends of the near future are changes that make traditional SEO even less prominent. I’d like to mention:
Popularization instead of Google optimization
Google Home, Amazon Echo and similar assistants
Google ads squeezing out organic results from search
In short the good old days of SEO are over. It gets harder and harder to optimize for the ever dwindling organic reach on Google search. In the short term it leads to higher demand for search engine optimization specialists because everybody has to invest more time, money and effort in showing up for the remaining search results.
Yet we also see many agencies and experts give up. Some switch to Google ads and become Google’s taxi drivers. Others are trying to add even more noise to the already overwhelming daily content flood out there.
Both exit routes – PPC and content marketing – are not sustainable in the long run and lead to higher dependency on gatekeepers like Google and Facebook.
Google optimization, that is building websites to be found on Google is less and less lucrative because of the growing competition for the few leftovers below the fold. Most people see only ads, especially on mobile and do not even distinguish between ads and results anymore surveys show.
Let’s explain the trends in particular.
Popularization vs Google Optimization
Thus only a holistic popularization approach can overcome this. Think popularization of science or pop music. You need to make people actively aware of you and search for your name or your products. Thanks to popularization even when your website does not show up searchers will ultimately find you and look for you in the first place.
Google Home, Amazon Echo and similar assistants
When people ask Google Home something they do not look up websites or even search results. They just ask the Google AI for what they want to know.
People will ask for a movie and Google Home will answer that the reviews are negative without even disclosing the sources of these opinions.
In future it will be about optimizing your brand, product or service for these sources. Your website might get ignored altogether in such a scenario. Only “trustworthy” third party sites might count as proper endorsements. Social media sentiment might still count as well where expert opinions are not yet there.
Google ads squeezing out organic results from search
The most obvious trend is that Google puts more and more ads and Google services above the fold while squeezing out any remaining “organic” search results.
Kids and teenagers are not even aware that there is a difference between ads and search results by now studies have shown.
On mobile you need to scroll a lot to find an actual result. Again you can give up or embrace a popularization strategy where you make people search for you and force Google to find you or others to pay for ads to be found when selling your products.
In general you need to stop trying to please Google and Facebook (especially skip proprietary nonsense like Google’s AMP or Facebook’s Instant Articles) and start to optimize for audience, findability and popularity independently of gatekeepers.
1) Page speed will dominate people’s focus, as this will be an increasingly effective ranking factor. Currently, mobile page speed isn’t a ranking factor, while they base it on your desktop page speed; however, Google has informed us all that this will change in the next ‘mobile friendly’ update. As mobile traffic has now overtaken desktop, page speed will be absolutely critical, as there are many reports highlighting the difference in conversion rate can be around 20% based on a single second improvement.
2) Voice based search has been increasing exponentially; however, the SEO industry is still trying to catch up. Many sites will have to adjust their content strategy to be more conversational, rather than the traditional online style of typing. A great way to combat the increased amount of voice based searches could be to write a single article on each FAQ question.
3) We are starting to notice apps in SERPs; however, I am honestly astonished about the lack of SEO work produced on the apps for big companies at the moment. Tricks such as deep linking are really not being utilized to their full potential; however, this should change during 2017.
SEO has changed so much the past few years that it has become typical to expect this rapid evolution to continue. While I get that mindset, Google is more likely to adjust to a more “business as usual” approach in 2017 and beyond. Here are some areas I expect to remain at the forefront for them and the SEO community worldwide.
Increased Focus on Mobile & Voice Search– This should come as no surprise. Google has already pushed out their infamous “Mobilegeddon” update (April 2015), and a first rework of that update earlier in 2016. We should anticipate this to become a huge focus as mobile and tablet computing eventually become the primary platforms for search and internet access heading into 2017. Given that many of us are searching on a phone while we are already doing something (e.g., driving or shopping), and that phone I/O can be clunky for many of us, voice search simply HAS to fall into place before long. I’d wager a lot of the semantic matching advances we’ve seen have been heavily influenced by the growth of mobile and the utility of voice-driven search interpretation.
Algorithmic Updates Instead of Penalties – We’ve seen this start to fall into place already, with Google Penguin being folded into the algorithm at some point in 2016. Panda did the same in 2015. Together these are strong indicators that we may have moved past the “handslap” period with Google. Now they are aiming to simply update the algorithm again rather than make spectacles of cheaters in the SEO game. We already know that their search team makes upward of 500 major and minor tweaks to the algorithm on an annual basis. They have all but stopped announcing when changes are made, and simply keep telling us it’s business as usual. Having seen much fewer major shakeups in the past 12 months, this looks to be a trend that will stay.
Artificial Intelligence – The SEO industry was abuzz with the Google announcement of Rankbrain and what it means late in 2015. And realistically, their artificial intelligence engine is something cool to consider for all. But it should have come as no surprise to those of us who witnessed things bubbling up since 2013, from Hummingbird to semantic markup to the knowledge graph itself. Google is now interpreting intent rather than just matching search strings, as they did in the “good old days.” With mobile and voice search so dependent on intent-based matching, I would anticipate that this is not only a novel idea, but the primary way we’ll be having SERPs served up from here forward.
Of course, there could be a range of other areas worth mentioning, but these are the big three in my own book. What are yours?
One thing that will NEVER go out of fashion is that epic content will go viral. This is something that happened with my post Blogger Outreach – How To Get On 158 Blogs In 14 Months, which has 115 comments and 517 social shares.
People like content that stands out, especially in a positive way.
Want great SEO? Do a strategic SEO campaign and create epic content that is outperforming the others posts ranking for the same keyword.
You don´t need to be able to look into the future in order to understand that video is taking more and more over compared to text and only audio.
Video is a great way to create engagement, show people that you are a real person and show your personality.
Usually a great video will outperform an equally great blog post ranking for the same keyword.
In addition, fewer people are producing videos than written blog posts.
Because it really require some big b*lls to stand in front of the camera and show your personality. However, going outside your comfort zone usually pays off.
A webinar is not just a video. It´s a freakin´ party! Where people can engage and connect with you. That is why doing webinars outperforms email sequences, product launches on videos, and so on.
– Video content will grow in importance for B2C brands
While most content generated by SEOs and brands is still written content, video content is rapidly catching up. In 2017, video content will likely outpace written content in terms of reach, engagement, effectiveness, and overall ROI. Vine, Periscope, Snapchat, and other video apps are partially responsible for this along with YouTube, setting users’ expectations toward more visual content. When browsing for informational search queries I’m sure you’ve all noticed video results showing up more and more often in the SERPs and once Google started to give more preference to video content, B2C brands will have no choice but to jump on the bandwagon if they want to stay ahead of the curb.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on these trends, and your SEO predictions for 2017 and beyond. Please share in the comments below.
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