Its that time of the year where people start making new year resolutions and SEOers gaze into their crystal ball and predict the biggest SEO changes in the upcoming year.
Over the last 24 months, SEO has evolved very fast; call it lightning speed. Well, the evolution has just gained momentum and is expected to extend to 2017 at a high gear. Therefore, what should you expect in 2017?
In online marketing, success can only be possible if you can stay on top of every trend. The years 2015 and 2016 were very important because they created a new benchmark for SEO operations. Recently, Google indicated that it was splitting the search index with mobile index forming the bedrock. The preference for mobile optimized content by Google and indeed other search engines could not be hidden following the discovery that more than 80% searches would come from mobile devices.
For brand managers, marketers, and online marketing strategists, 2017 will demand extra focus, more effort, and inherent understanding of content usability. Many things that worked perfectly well in the past will change, and remaining at the top of Google ranking will demand that you give the best to SEO and digital marketing.
Top digital marketing and SEO experts are in concurrence that black-hat SEO will find it extremely difficult because of the shifting landscape. Besides, even experienced online marketers will also be required to progressively learn to keep up with emerging search engine intelligence, drifting algorithms, and extra demands towards customer satisfaction.
Here are the top 14 SEO trends to watch in 2017:
2017 is the year of mobile
When Google realized that everything was going mobile several years back, it started to encourage marketers to use the mobile optimized content. In fact, some marketers dismissed the notion and even went ahead with conventional marketing strategies. In 2017, everything will shift to mobile, and all marketers will not have any option out of it whether.
The shift to mobile content and marketing is not optional
When Google announced the intent to split search indices; it only confirmed the preference of the system where the target audience is. Mobile marketing in the digital world today can be compared to the point that computers were at about 40 years ago. For Google and other search engines, the focus is to get to where the target audience is, present top-notch content, and guarantee users the highest possible value for their time.
By introducing the Google Index divide, some marketers questioned the move arguing that the desktop users were still many. However, the Google Index divide was not without empirical support. Following the realization that more people do searches via mobile devices, Google had to make the smart move; follow the audience. All pointers indicate that more than 50% of the searches come via mobile devices and the figure is expected to grow to more than 85% in a couple of years. Therefore, Google has made it clear that its preference is mobile search, and marketers do not have any option apart from following the same path. To succeed in SEO and digital marketing, content must be carefully constructed and mobile optimized.
The shift and preference for mobile index was not unanticipated
In marketing, investors and entrepreneurs are interested in putting resources in areas that will generate the highest ROI. In fact, Google is only acting in good faith by forcing marketers to go mobile in their SEO and marketing strategies. This has happened sequentially as Google had already prepared the groundwork for all.
First, Google came up with the mobilegeddon which was meant to notify marketers of the shift towards mobile devices. Then, the AMP (Accelerated Mobile apps) that targeted to help clients make their mobile websites and pages operate at faster rates was released. However, it is the latest Penguin 4.0 update and Google Index Divide announcement that have clearly demonstrated where mobile marketing will be headed in 2017.
Following these trends, the chances are that more updates for the mobile optimized and high-quality content will be released. Your SEO marketing strategy must be properly aligned to adapt to these changes so that new preferences for mobile indices will work to your advantage.
A rebirth of search algorithm
For many years, search algorithm has been looked at from the point of view of crawlers. Marketers and brand managers are more interested in getting crawled rather than delivering greater value to the target audience. Well, Google has already learnt about this problem and is putting all efforts and measures to enhance pages and site usability. Though this has already started in the last several years, it will become more imminent in 2017.
The SEO will be based on research and target to understand customers. For example, more marketers will start asking what and when do clients want a specific product. This way, both the brand manager and investor will become part of the product as well as the process so that it can deliver higher value and satisfaction.
For marketers who will learn this concept early enough and implement it, the results will be a lot of traffic, more profitability, and ROI. However, Google has already taken off with its regular updates on search engine updates and new algorithms that are more intelligent. It is a shift that you cannot run away from because its time has come. Therefore, learn about it, start experimenting, and perfect the art of a better SEO & digital marketing right away.
Use of video marketing will grow exponentially
Content marketing has become more visual and is showing no sign of slowing down any soon. From social media to direct home page marketing, content with rich media such as images, GIF and infographics have become the ultimate irresistible. For the last two years, video content marketing has grown sensational with both small and big businesses working hard to meet client’s expectations. While the uptake was rather slow before 2015, it reached the exponential potential in 2016 and will keep growing.
For visitors, videos are more engaging and look real compared to text ads. By the fact that the CEO of a company pops up to talk and share with clients about the products coming in the video a couple of seconds later, it is very easy to win confidence. Though the process of preparing video was considered technical in many aspects, it is now completely different. Many apps are available with tutorials that make the preparation of a winning video easy and very fast.
Currently, giant online companies are positioning themselves to capitalize on videos. After its video views hit 10 billion every day, Facebook had to strategize in its support. YouTube, a video marketing platform has approximately 1/3 of the entire globe internet population.
To get more from video marketing, in 2017, a brand manager/marketer will need to adopt these video strategies.
- Using branded video content that gives a lot of information about a product.
- Including videos on sales and home pages for clients to access easily.
- Adding videos on social media pages.
- Using live streaming videos that make it possible to share content in real time with clients.
- Making series of videos and including personal touch so that clients can follow and include personal touch in every section.
Influencer marketing will become central to SEO and business marketing success
The last two years have demonstrated the central role that influencers play in selling company products and services. They are experts in their niches, and take a lot of time building networks and crafting top notch content. For example, a fitness expert blog will attract a lot of loyal following and make huge returns because people trust in him and the recommendations are working. Well, the focus is not always to navigate to the top of the blogging niche, but bringing the experts to take services and products to clients.
With more people appreciating the central role of influencers, SEO experts and marketers will want to work with them so that they can optimize sales, profitability, and build loyalty. Though influencers might be costly compared to outbound marketing methods, a business is assured of better results within a short time.
Voice search will grow and could reach critical levels in 2017
Artificial intelligence is gaining ground rather fast especially via mobile searches. While some marketers dismissed its emergence in 2016, top giants such as Google, Apple, and Samsung among others are at advanced stages of implementing it. Just like marketers were hesitant to take on mobile marketing, the same trend is expected to follow in voice intelligence.
Voice searches will shift how keywords in SEO are used and content structured. For example, while the common search in a desktop would look like this, best dentist in New York, using a voice search would look like a form of a question like where can I get a good dentist in New York? Therefore, the structure would revolve around terms such as what, how, where, and others. Voice search could peak in 2017 and yield new horizons in SEO and digital marketing.
How to capitalize on voice searches?
For many businesses, the question is how to capitalize on voice search and get the best results. Here, you need to look at user content from a different angle. Unlike the current model where marketers include a lot of information and add the keyword about their products inside, the voice search will be different. To capitalize on voice search you need to;
- Always remain focused and to the point.
- Make the answers easy to hear, understand, and act on.
- Optimize content with appropriate backlinks to your pages.
- Try aligning all content based on the clients' expectations (answer questions where, what, why, how, and how among others).
- Target all the visitors for progressive marketing and remarketing.
Personal branding will emerge as the SEO secret weapon
Many SEO experts will agree that with a personal brand, digital marketing becomes very easy. It makes it easy to get the right guest posts and building immersive traffic to your website. Every big search engine has put a lot of effort to strengthen personal branding even though marketers are slow to take on it. Google and Facebook have already refined their algorithms, and more brands are likely to start taking advantage of individual posts.
What to expect with individual posts in 2017?
- Better communication between brand marketers and target audience.
- Higher numbers of referrals and faster growth of brands.
- Higher returns on investment.
Market contraction and reward system will redefine success in SERPS
For a long time, Google used to reward and rank first the content that performed better on its system. However, the search algorithm is now adrift from just quality to holistic impact in all areas. By getting good content and posting it on your pages will not be enough to take you to the first pages on Google. Rather, you have to work on page descriptions, page titles, and optimize everything to get and remain at the top. Indeed, even with these, you cannot expect to remain at the top unless more and better content is added regularly.
Though many marketers only used Google console when they had errors to fix, it could become the ultimate thing in 2017. You will need it to understand how the algorithm works, how to identify all errors and be on the positive side of Google. By using the Google Search Console, pages with your posts will be crawled and indexed even faster.
Keyword research and analytics will shift to a higher level
SEO adrift towards with bias to engagement
A couple of years back, SEO was mainly a single keyword thing with more attention being trained on page focus. Identifying the appropriate keywords was the main thing in getting your website to top ranks by search engines. However, this has shifted so much with long tail keywords taking the centers stage for any website that wanted to remain relevant in the highly competitive digital market.
SEO experts appear in agreement that keyword research will become more important when coupled with social media marketing, and top notch content creation. To comprehend more about SEO and get results, analytics will be even more critical because search engines are prioritizing pages that offer extra engagement and usability. For example, how long do clients stay on your page? What is the quality of traffic following the page? What is the bounce rate? Therefore, your analytics must get it right because it will no longer be a simple click thing to hit the top ranked pages; the visits must top quality.
SEO will be more about ROI and less on ranking
While many people perfected their SEO in the last couple of years, a significant percentage still insist the results never connected with ROI. SEO has now shifted from simple ranking to help in driving higher ROI. All your SEO efforts on pages, social media, landing pages, and other areas will need to be linked to ROI so that businesses for businesses to be successful.
One reality that investors and businesses are coming to terms with is that SEO will not be a one-night thing, but a carefully defined strategy to run for the long term. This means that everything must be done with extra care to drive a wedge on quality so that content, posts, and links can keep drawing meaning, delivering value, and assuring search engines that the page is an authority.
Quality content will become the bedrock of SEO
For a long time, the journey towards better content, higher value, and quality that guarantees users of utmost value has been long, and illustrious. Through comprehensive review and updates, search engine appeared to have won the war on quality content a couple of years back. Well, this was not to be as black hat SEO broke the secret to organic search and ranking at the top. They prodded Google innards using link farms and content spinning software that only generated low-quality content. Within seconds, spinning applications could spin a post into hundreds or thousands and become the top ranking pages. Well, not any longer!
Google has modified its search tactics to include intelligent algorithms to ensure that no black hat will make it to the top rank with poor quality. For the last couple of years, the focus is not to simply generate content, but ensure that users get the highest possible quality. Users who visit your pages must be contented by getting quality content and better user experience.
The bar for quality has drifted to a very high ground such that you have to keep generating top notch content to stay on the top of Google ranking. The strategy on content generation will shift to rich models that focus on images, texts, infographics, video, and voice among others.
A shift towards dense keywords will emerge as a central strategy in most search engines. This means that the value of the content will shift to the value generated per keyword. Therefore, your dense content will be more functional, become an authority, and get higher ranking in search engines. The drive for dense content is expected to follow the current focus on separate indices for mobile and desktops.
The big deal about location
From an e-commerce point of view, the excitement is over, and people are now looking for stores that they can associate with. Even if you a very big store such as Amazon or eBay, consumers will be biased to a store with a local outlet because they can identify and feel more secure especially when products are of higher quality.
Many smaller businesses have been waiting for this moment, and their catch will be in 2017. They will use all platforms such as emerging e-commerce platforms and SEO techniques to attract local searches and offer higher quality content. Many experts predict that these smaller e-commerce stores will grow rapidly to emerge as new movers that can rival top giants.
Advanced progressive apps will become more important
While mobile use, mobile searches, and every indicator point towards greater mobile devices, 2017 is likely to see a protracted use of progressive apps. Mobile apps are used by marketers and SEO professionals to take content direct to clients. With the common apps, users are required to download and install in order to access the specific business operational platform. However, a wedge is easily created when an app is used because the user rarely goes back to the website.
Advanced progressive mobile apps provide users with the same app experience in the browser to reconcile the two. A user will only need to visit the website and then launch the app directly from the page. This will slow down the current fast progression of mobile apps because businesses risk losing a lot if the website becomes dysfunctional.
For SEO marketers, progressive mobile apps will become more important in SEO because of the following additional benefits.
- The layout is responsive and navigation easier. This has made it very easy for users to get the right content and have better user experience.
- Ability to send notifications that are faster and easy to get when compared to common emails.
- The progressive app has offline capabilities so that messages can still be relayed to the target audience even when they are offline.
Social media marketing will take center stage in digital marketing
The shift from outbound to inbound marketing has created an exciting perspective of social media. SEO can only be effective when marketers start living and associating with the target audience. The content you generate, ads, and every SEO campaign on social media has demonstrated to drive higher ROI compared to other methods. In 2017, use of social media will keep growing to drive traffic and drive sales.
2017 and shift to standardization of social media operations
The current focus on the social media channels to entrench creativity and learning about competitors could make their difference less significant. Here, we do not suggest that the leading social media channels will easily be overtaken, but others will become equally relevant by ‘copying’ top trends.
Before Memories was established, Snapchat was always considered the place for unpolished content while Instagram offered the ideal platform to share the best photos comfortably. However, channels are learning from each other and working on new applications similar to what others are launching. The trend will become even more prominent in 2017. YouTube is already at the testing stage of community features that will enable creators to share images as well as texts just like in Facebook. In a similar way, Facebook is trying its new Go-to-Places to capture trending stories like the way Twitter does it.
Focus on live video
SEO experts are positioning themselves to adopt the emerging online trend of live videos. Live videos are growing in demand on social media because people want to be updated about sports, current affairs, and entertainment for an extra thrill. Just like many marketers were hesitant to take to live videos, the live content SEO on social media could require a lot of reorganization at the managerial and even marketing levels.
Faster growth in social media searches
Like marketers have realized, many people live on social media. They have workgroups, marketing units, and can get anything from services to top notch products. In fact, the communication on social media is personal, and the audience feels a sense of unique attachment to experts and brands. This is a fact that SEO professionals have noted with interest. For example, Facebook searches rose steadily and are approaching those of Google. There is a likelihood that Social media will rope in more ad roles to cash in on the ever rising searches, visits, and respective members on every channel. This means that the dominance of top search engines such as Google and others could get challenged in 2017.
User experience will become the denominator in every SEO practice
One of the main things that will define every SEO effort in 2017 will be user experience (UX). UX has emerged as a great trend and marketers can only be assured of success if they guarantee higher UX to all clients. Brand managers and marketers will continue realizing the critical role that UX plays in the market today and work extra hard to achieve better results.
In particular, here is what to anticipate more in UX in 2017.
- Greater focus on UX mapping: Because of the fast rising entry of novices into the digital world, the mapping models will be amplified from the common focus on tech-savvy population. Designers and marketers will make the shift to capture the emerging internet users to inform and persuade them to buy their products.
- 2017 will be the year of micro-interactions: While some experts have steered off the notion of interactions, they are a reality. In the modern world of apps, there are many interactions (some too small to notice) in every digital engagement. Think of the many inquiries on your new video, comments, suggestions, sharing, and other forms of direct and indirect interactions. You can only expect the interactions to move to the next level in 2017.
- Using gestures to express a specific view or argument. More people want to send signals without having to construct long messages or heavy images. Think of the Facebook Like button that communicates a lot about a page, website, post, or any info posted on a profile. The gestures will become more relevant because they are easy and fast to apply with concise meaning.
- Use of haptic response when communicating with clients. Haptic feedback involves using the sense of touch to make a response, especially on the high-end devices. Your clients' user experience will be positive if they get an engaging and easy to use haptic interface. A visitor to your website on a mobile device will be persuaded to stay on the page using pleasant texture so that he/she can take the next action to convert.
- A shift to de-linearity on UX. In 2015 and indeed part of 2016, UX was so much simplified that it made many marketers started limiting the clients' options. While the simplicity helps the audience to select services and pay, it has portrayed UX in a bad light and prompted more companies to relook for alternatives. Therefore, 2017 is likely to experience greater de-linearity so that they can navigate, look for more options and identify alternative options to enjoy the results they want.
It is not yet time to forget the Desktop indexing
The recent indication by Google that it will be splitting its search index with preference to mobile devices did not go down well with people who are slow in shifting. Indeed, a big proportion of the SEO community did not like the idea because it will involve a lot of rearrangements. While Google is no doubt a business like others that targets profitability and will follow the course towards higher ROI, 2017 will not just see the desktop index thrown into oblivion. Here are some reasons for this.
- Google pointed the intent to favor mobile because pointed indicate more searches will be coming from mobile.
- Though everything is going mobile, the numbers are not there yet. Google and other search engines are known to faithfully follow numbers and will only act when the situation is right.
- Most of the marketers are resistant to change and will not let go off easily even after the shift is initiated. Even when they finally do, they will still stick to desktop marketing to maintain the current client base while hesitantly moving on.
One agrees with the majority of the digital and SEO experts that the last decade was like an incubation session in the online world. With the bar set rather high, more people being extra tech savvy, and applications no longer easy to hide, one can expect new trends to emerge even faster. This means two things for 2017. One; SEO marketers must expect a lot of changes, adjustments, and realignments as every player fight for space. Two; because of the fast learning digital community, every invention is bound only to last a short while as new ones are pitched to provide better results. For SEO professionals, it is time to up the game and moving together with the waves for relevance and better results.