Predictions 2017: SEO
SEO is an ever-changing ball game where the rules are changed over 500 times in a year by Google. While it is important to keep up with all the changes and try to abide by all the new rules, it is equally important to identify trends and plan in advance to stay ahead of the curve. With that in mind, we’re predicting what we think will be the biggest SEO developments in 2017. Among the main trends, we strongly believe that technical SEO will make a roaring comeback in 2017. With Google increasingly rewarding sites for being secure, fast and user/mobile friendly, technical SEO will have to be at the core of your 2017 SEO strategy.
The web will AMPlify everything
It is expected that in addition to content publishers, e-commerce, lead generation, reviews and aggregator websites will also launch AMP versions of their pages. The type of pages will range from reviews, product listing and product pages. Google already has over 600 million AMP documents from sites such as eBay, Reddit and SkyScanner, and this will grow at an exponential rate in 2017. Perhaps it is one of the reasons that influenced Google’s decision to create a separate index for mobile. A separate index can have its own ranking factors, meaning AMPlifying your digital files can help you rank better.
HTTPs will be everywhere
Google announced in August, 2014 that websites using HTTPS will get a ranking boost. Two years later it’s surprising that a significant proportion of the web is still not secure. With Google’s on-going HTTPs everywhere campaign, and sites continually witnessing their visibility improve after switching to HTTPs, we expect an increase in HTTPs adoption.
HTTP/2 will come to the forefront of SEO strategies
HTPP/2 is one of the most significant developments in web technology and very soon the SEO community will be talking about it. HTTP/2 is the latest update to the HTTP protocol, which was last updated in 1999 with the launch of HTTP/1.1. The key focus of the update will be on improving efficiency, security, and speed. With Google increasingly rewarding sites with better security and speed already, it is expected that HTTP/2 adoption will be widespread in 2017.
Site and platform migration projects will rise
The best performing new websites are optimised by an SEO expert before launch. Google is much more adept at rewarding websites that follow its technical guidelines. The high number of mobile users has also forced webmasters to focus on improving the user experience. Platforms with thorough and flexible technical SEO offering will continue to see growth in their adoption leading to more platform and site migration projects utilising SEO right at the wireframe design stage.
Structured data implementation will be a ranking signal
Just as Google rewarded sites for using HTTPS, very soon it will reward websites that use schema tags too, making structured data a key ranking signal. Schema tags allow Google to organise and contextualise information better. In the long run, these tags will aid the intelligent bots to process information even more comprehensively, and hence help Google become an ever better search engine.
Featured snippets, rich cards and knowledge graph boxes will be more visible
Webmasters will supply Google with more and more structured data, which means we will see more featured snippets, answer boxes, knowledge graph boxes and carousels. Featured snippets will be contested over almost as much at the coveted position one on SERPs.
Application of machine learning algorithms will witness growth
Last year, Google declared that machine learning AKA RankBrain is the third most important ranking signal. Google had to come up with RankBrain because it was increasingly witnessing never-seen-before-searches. This is because the search habit of the web is more conversational than ever before. Meaning, along with typing ‘laser hair removal’ , people will also be talking to their devices saying things like ‘do I need laser hair removal?’. These never-seen/before searches will not just be a Google problem. In 2017, webmasters around the world will increasingly roll out their own machine learning solutions in order to keep up with this changing paradigm in search behaviour and ensure their websites continue to fulfill user intent.
Links and content will continue to be the ranking signals
RankBrain as the third most important ranking has certainly made the SEO game interesting. However, a wide range of SEO data and research confirm links and purposeful content are still the top ranking signals. Until Google bots become more skilful at natural language processing, machine learning, deep learning and artificial intelligence, links and content writing will not lose their relevance anytime soon. That said, it is key to remember that volume based link acquisition will continue to lose ground to quality content-based link earning.
Content is king and long live the king, however, in the last 2-3 years it has overshadowed technical SEO strategies. With Google introducing so many changes to the search page, and with algorithms and users increasingly having more digital touch points, technical SEO can no longer be ignored at the expense of brand-building content marketing. Brands that plan, implement, learn and review their technical SEO continually stand a stronger chance of staying ahead of the competition and keep winning this game of ever changing rules.