The one constant in life is change. On the web there’s always something changing, particularly when it comes to SEO.
Chasing SEO is a reality that everyone business faces. It’s a constant pursuit of a moving target. What hit the target in SEO two years ago isn’t relevant today. For that matter, what was relevant last week might not be relevant today. To stay at the top of the heap, evolution is necessary. To stick with SEO, you have to keep going. You have to keep growing.
We’ve witnessed some big changes in SEO over the last several years, in large part due to the influence of social media and of Google updates that have changed what works in SEO. More than one in ten online experiences start with a user typing something into a search bar somewhere, so like it or not you can’t ignore this aspect of the game and be successful.
What’s coming in 2017 for SEO? Here are five things to look for this year.
Use schema markup
Sometimes SEO is about what happens behind the scenes.
Schema markup is becoming increasingly important in SEO because it gives Google and other search engines another way to see your site. It’s powerful, but highly underutilized. The idea is that this is content that gives search engines more information about your website. This in turn gives users a clearer understanding of what you have to offer, as opposed to the other results that pop up in their search results. It’s still HTML, and it’s not as challenging as you think.
This is a tool that’s all about context. How many times have you searched for something and gotten results that were technically in line with your search but were actually irrelevant to what you were looking for? The answer is pretty much every time.
You can learn more about schema markup at Schema.org, a website that was created by a collective effort of Google, Yahoo, and Bing. If these guys are coming together on a joint venture, you know it’s important to search.
Create dense content
Content length is a constant change online. Should pieces be 500 words? 1000 words? 2000 words? In 2017, expect to see the length of content be much less important that the density of content. Readers and search engines alike are moving towards high quality content without the fluff. No more filling up words just to have something there. We’ve already seen this in print, with magazines like National Geographic and The New Yorker shortening the length of their stories in favor of pieces that are shorter but still packed with information.
An aside here: content marketing isn’t going anywhere in 2017. For the purposes of SEO, better content still means better ranking, so keep writing.
Artificial intelligence takes over SEO
Yes, this might seem like science fiction, but last year we found out that it’s SEO fact. Google RankBrain and Google Hummingbird both came on the scene last year, and they’re learning how users talk and by extension how to use that information to improve the way that search is accomplished. Most everyone is expecting another update to these in 2017, which will lead to an increased “human” touch to the way that online searches are accomplished.
Accelerated mobile makes access faster
Mobile is the present and the future of the online experience. We’re all glued to those smartphones, and 2017 has the potential to see mobile have a massive impact on SEO for the first time. The Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) from Google seeks to give businesses tools to make websites more accessible. This set of standards really leads to lighter HTML that loads faster on mobile devices.
This tech has been around long enough at this point that it’s unlikely to be just another test for Google, it’s here to stay. Adam Greenberg from Google recently verified that the search giant is already using AMP in all its search rankings, so it’s definitely something we should all be considering.
Local citations give way to local backlinks
SEO for local can be a different ballgame than SEO for broad reach sites. For a long time now, it’s been widely believed that local citations were the best way to improve local rank. In 2017, that assumption is going to be turned on its head. Instead of looking for local citations, search engines are increasingly going to be looking for local backlinks. That means doing more legwork with people in the community through outreach in order to build that backlink presence.
Voice search optimization is a necessity
As the technology that makes voice search work has gotten more effective, it’s use has skyrocketed. We all want to live in a future of talking to our computers instead of typing into them. Up until now, it was possible to kind of ignore voice when optimizing for SEO. That’s really going to change this year. Whether you call it a “featured snippet”, “rich snippet”, a “rich answer”, or a “direct answer”, that little bit of data that is added to describe the content is becoming massively important for SEO, in large part thanks to voice search.
If your website ranks with a featured snippet, it’s more likely to be returned when a keyword is searched for with voice. Nearly half of searchers in the US use voice search on a daily basis right now, and given the exponential growth of that sector of search over the last several years, that number will likely be much bigger at the end of this year. Content needs to be able to directly answer questions that are searched for with voice in order to rank well in 2017.
These SEO trends are going to change again and again. The worst thing you can do is to get stuck in the same patterns of SEO – you’ll find yourself with tanking ranking syndrome. Keep reading, keep learning, and keep changing. The internet is wonderful in large part because there’s always something new out here, but by that same token it is a massive challenge because we have to be constantly responsive and growing.
Your site will need to you to stay out front to keep up with changes in SEO in 2017, and every year down the line. Is yours optimized? Contact us for a free website audit!