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What to look out for in 2017

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is technology based, and like technology it constantly evolves. Last year’s trends are like last year’s ex – long forgotten or in serious need of an upgrade. While all online businesses may benefit from SEO, e-commerce sites, such as online retailers, may have the most to gain. SEO aims to increase web traffic to sites by positioning the site close to the top of the results yielded for each search. To avoid being thrown out with 2016’s desk calendar, it is vital to keep up with modern theories and SEO marketing insight.
Geo-specific keywords and inbound anchor links may have sufficed in 2016, but to stay ahead of competitors in 2017 the recent alterations to search engine algorithms must be considered. Below we explore 10 revamped SEO trends for 2017, that will allow you to best your competitors.

(1) Increase In Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs).

Smartphones gained enormous success after the release of the iPhone in 2008. Apple drastically enhanced the technology available at the time, and has continued to do so. Smartphone devices are responsible for over 50% of web searches. Even when purchases are not made through mobiles, information such as the location of the store in question is sourced via mobile internet interfaces. This highlights the importance of website compatibility with mobile devices. AMPs enable websites to load quickly and effectively on mobile phones, due to minor structural changes made to the makeup of the website. This quickens the loading time for each page and decreases the amount of data consumed. Google as a search engine shows AMP favorability by indicating AMP compliant sites with a lightning bolt icon, boosting the site’s status amongst search results and penalizing non-AMP compliant sites.

(2) A Change From Lengthily Content To Dense Content.

Throughout 2016 search engines favored sites which moved away from minimal text to lengthy personalized content. However, the information displayed on different sites relating to the same subject became increasingly similar. 2017 will see this change from minimal to comprehensive text strengthened through a focus on highly specified content pages for websites. Content will be extensive, yet concise to avoid tedious reading while appearing authentic and comprehensive.

(3) Changes To Existing Ranking Algorithms Due To Machine Learning

2016 saw the release of Google’s RankBrain as an extension of Google Hummingbird. These technologies analyze the terms used in conversational phrases by internet users, and adapt existing algorithms accordingly. While this makes it easier for users to express what they are searching for, SEO practices will need to adapt to the more intimate use of language.

(4) Use Of Personal Branding By Established Brands.

By making use of personal marketing, websites will be able to generate greater user trust, guest posts and exposure, with ease. Many social media platforms make use of algorithms to favor personal individual posts over branded posts, however very few organizations currently make use of personal branding. This is set to increase drastically in 2017 as social media platforms continue to develop.

(5) SEO Will Build On User Experience Optimization (UEO)

UEO has been a part of digital marketing strategies for several years. However, with the focus on AMPs increasing in 2017, so will the focus on user experience. Pages that load quicker and show greater user retention time will be prioritized. Search engines such as Bing and Google will favor websites with better user experiences.

(6) Structured Data Markup Increases The Likelihood Of Site Listing As Google Quick Searches.

For your site to appear in search engine fast features (the blurb located at the top of a search results page), machine learning algorithms need to pick up on the website’s structured data markup. This section of text describes the content of the site, so that when users search for a specific phrase or question, search engines such as Google can differentiate between the structured markup data and the actual site content. An example of this is “recipe on how to make banana bread” – this can be both the title of an article, the description on the article’s content and the phrase inserted by the user into the search engine.

(7) User Search Intent

There are millions of websites available on the internet. To retain users on a page, the page must be optimized regarding user intent. If not, users will leave the page almost immediately rather than wasting time sorting through information. User intent can be described as the process by which a user arrived on a page. It is paramount that SEO considers the needs of the user; is it more likely that the user is searching for information or a transaction with the key words/phrases that brought the user to the cite?

(8) Voice Search Algorithms Have Become More Prominent.

More and more users are making use of voice searches, as it feels more personal and can often be more efficient. An example of this is Google Maps, which generates searches based on a destination/location which is spoken aloud by the user. If websites are not optimized for voice recognition, the site risks going unnoticed by current voice search algorithms.

(9) Artificial Intelligence Recognition

Recent advances in technology have led to the creation of several popular artificial intelligence programs such as Siri and Alexa. While these technologies are still being enhanced, many have been specifically adapted for search optimization. These technologies employ algorithms based on previous searches by the user, their location and intent, to generate results with greater efficacy. It is crucial that websites make use of SEO optimization to make their websites artificial intelligence friendly.

(10) Mobile-First Index

In relation to Google’s current focus on AMPs, Google has launched a mobile-first index. This index will rank websites according to the mobile version of the website. While these rankings are not permanent, the system emphasizes Google’s shift towards supporting mobile friendly sites.

Search Engine Optimization is vitally important for the success of any website. This importance in continuously increasing as more sites are uploaded to search engines daily. Users seldom scroll past the second page of results listed by any search engine, it is therefore of paramount importance that websites heed the above trends to remain modern, successful and profitable.

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