By Tia Nowack, Content Strategist
February 07, 2017
For years we’ve been working with our clients to ensure their digital presence is top-notch. From smart user experiences to engaging social content, we do it all—and in an integrated digital world, that’s key.
One of the areas of our marketing and advertising that’s always on the move is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Some algorithm changes are accompanied with flashy names and internet buzz. Others, however, fly under the radar—secret updates from search engines that ensure their platform serves up the exact content a user is seeking. Search engines like Google keep these updates secret to ensure websites don’t game the system, tricking Google’s crawlers into thinking they’re something they’re not.
So while we can’t tell you definitively what’s on the horizon, we do have some pretty good ideas. Based on market research and our own SEO experience in the trenches, here are the top trends we expect to see in 2017.
1. The value of value.
In an effort to provide helpful content to users, search engines continue to favor sites that provide actual value to visitors. From helpful videos to step-by-step tips, sites that are able to quickly and easily solve real-world problems are poised to do best in the coming year.
2. Mobile-first is coming.
In 2016, Google revealed that nearly 60% of searches are now happening on a mobile device, fueling an intense focus on the mobile search experience for its users. The company announced separate mobile rankings—penalizing websites that weren’t mobile friendly.
We can only imagine that this share of mobile searches will continue to grow dramatically in 2017, and we’d bet Google & Bing will release more updates favoring mobile-optimized sites. Google has even announced that they’re experimenting with mobile-first indexing for all searches, not just those made from a mobile device. This is a major development for search, and one that companies should consider when beginning a website overhaul or new, from-scratch website build.
3. Stop typing. Start talking.
Talk-to-text technologies have improved immensely in the past two years, and consumers have noticed. In Google’s last big report, the company announced that 20% of mobile queries are voice activated.
Google’s Hummingbird update (a complete overhaul to their algorithm in 2013) paved the way for more intelligent interpretations of user search intent. We believe this algorithm will get even smarter in 2017—continuing the emphasis of content topics over specific keywords.
4. Location, location, location.
And those voice-activated searches are 3X more likely to be local searches. If you have a physical presence, this could be big news. Does your site have location finder services available? Are all four locations of your growing donut empire represented? These are the types of questions we’ll be asking as an agency because these are the types of questions consumers are asking their search engines.
5. That all leads to things getting personal.
As creepy as it may be, search engines and our smart devices know a lot about us. We already see this today. When I get into my car after work, my phone alerts me that it will take 24 minutes to get home based on current traffic. Did I tell my phone I was going home? Absolutely not—it just knows.
As machine learning or deep learning continues to advance, those voice searches we just discussed will get even smarter. Moz expects voice searches in 2017 to not just recognize, but understand the intent of your search using previous search history, location-based context, context based on frequently used apps and personalized information.
So what do you do to rank well in 2017?
Be aware of the trends discussed above, and don’t forget to keep an eye on changing technical best practices. But most importantly, address these two areas:
1. If you’ve put off addressing your site’s mobile presence, that should be your top priority. Not only will your users have a faster, better, more effective experience, but you’ll have a fighting shot at showing up in search.
2. Focus on what your user wants to hear, not what you want to say. This is by no means a new concept, but it will have a tangible impact on your site’s organic performance. Now more than ever, it’s important that content strategy leads, not ego.
Any predictions you’d like to add to our list? Questions about how to prepare for this changes with your own site? Comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.