Competition – it motivates all of us to become better at what we do. Marketers are no different, especially when they have to stay on top of the SEO game. They research the latest SEO trends; they use the best SEO tools out there. The problem is, unlike a sports competition, the goal posts for SEO are always changing. This, of course, makes the game more interesting, but also pretty frustrating for those trying to “keep up.” Looking ahead to 2017, these are some SEO trends that marketers might want to keep an eye on.
Initially, content was provided in short little chunks – rather fluffy chunks, actually – and the same fluff was just repeated everywhere. When this ultimately proved ineffective for SEO purposes, marketers began to create volumes of lengthy content – the longer the better. Topics were more complex and were covered with so much detail that readers had to be given heading, sub-headings, bullet points, etc., so that they could pick and choose which parts of the “epics” they wanted to read.
While comprehensive coverage of a topic is still important, the focus for content in 2017 is likely to be providing lots of information in as small a space as possible. This will be a challenge and require some creativity and even greater use of visuals.
Not long ago a Forbes article called personal branding the new SEO secret weapon. When people within companies tell their stories and post on a personal level, they build trust and relationships with users. This will bring more inbound traffic, will mean that users will stay longer, and, in the case of content marketers, may mean more opportunities to guest post.
It is important to note that Facebook continues to refine its algorithms in favor of personal rather than brand posting. This will require some strategy, to be sure, but it will be well worth the effort. Some smart brands have already been ahead of the game. Flo from Progressive Insurance has her own Facebook page, separate from the company’s page.
The AMP Project protocol has the capacity for webmasters to create content that is mobile optimized and that will load almost instantly, with just few structural changes. Who would not want their site to load up to 4X faster, use less data? Already, Google is using an icon to indicate sites that have switched over to AMPs. 2017 will probably bring more deference for AMPs in search results, and more companies will definitely be choosing the option. Take advantage of something that is pretty simple to achieve.
As Smartphones have become more and more attached to people’s hips and are now the most common method of accessing the Internet, the use of personal assistant apps (Cortana, Siri, Google Now) has skyrocketed. Users now manage a lot of their information and perform searches through their personal assistants, and this has some major implications for SEO. Marketers must now think not just of PC, laptop, or tablet SEO – they must think about smartphone SEO – those terms that personal assistants will “key” in on when a user asks for information or conduct a search. Developing tactics to ensure that a business will still be found through such a search is still in early stages, but next year will bring much more information that marketers must stay on top of.
Google launched RankBrain in late 2015. And Hummingbird has extended functions to “learn” how users are phrasing their search terminology and automatically altering its algorithm. While there has been nothing new recently, marketers should expect more updates and changes in this area in 2017.
This is not a new concept. SEO rankings have been impacted by traffic, speed of load time, mobile compatibility, and the length of time visitors remain on a site for a while now. AMPs are just one example of what is probably in store for designers, developers, and marketers through 2017 and beyond. In general, Google is going to be far more favorable to sites and content that it detects have better experiences for users.
If only because users are now able to stream apps rather than download them, and because there is a lot of linking to content via apps, there is certainly reason to believe that Google will begin to show more favor to apps, as opposed to traditional websites. If, for example, a user has downloaded or streamed the app for a resume building site, Google will begin to evaluate the user experience on that app, using current algorithms and others it will develop as apps become a more favored platform.
SEO is like a game of chess in some ways. Marketers have to try and guess what the next move will be and plan for it. Unlike chess, however, there is not a set of standard “moves” to which search engines are confined. Nor is technology like a fixed chess board – as it evolves, so will algorithms. Marketers who stay on top will be those who learn the new rules as they come along and adjust their content and their strategies accordingly.
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