The SEO world is evolving at an increasingly rapid pace. Here's what to look for in 2017.
When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), staying on top of trends is about more than sounding savvy when you talk tech with your colleagues. It's also essential to the strength of your enterprise's online marketing efforts. Here are six must-know SEO trends poised to make a big impact in 2017.
1. Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
Google's new AMP Project promises to deliver optimized content to mobile users at lightning speeds. An open-source project, AMP relies upon specialized HTML files that are designed to load at least four times faster than standard webpages. Many users have already seen AMP results showing up in their Google search results carousel.
While AMP coding doesn't have any direct effect on search result rankings, faster-loading pages are already getting more clicks and impressions. A more positive user experience has also been noted by many publishers moving to AMP content. Those factors do affect SEO rankings, so AMP is likely to become more and more important as 2017 progresses.
2. Google's Mobile-First Index
Google is also rolling out a mobile-first index that ranks search listings for a given term based on the mobile version of a webpage. This ranking system is in place even for those conducting searches on desktop computers, which means that it's increasingly important for publishers to create mobile-friendly content. While Google says it will still rank desktop-only pages, there's no doubt that having rich mobile content is a must.
3. Google's Penguin 4.0
Google's Penguin algorithm, which is designed to find and penalize webpages that the search giant deems spammy, now operates in real time. That means that sites penalized by Penguin no longer have to wait indefinitely for an algorithm update to get their pages off Google's naughty list. Penguin is now designed to work on a page-specific basis, too, which means that rich content across a website is an absolute must for those webmasters who desire high rankings with no penalties.
4. Google's Quick Answers
Google's Quick Answers are designed to provide valuable snippets of information to search engine users so that they don't have to wade through results to find the info they want. In 2016, the number of search queries that returned quick answer results went up by about 10 percent over previous years. Quick answers are positioned to expand even more in 2017.
Quick answers provide a valuable way for businesses to reach potential customers, so getting content to rank in these results is essential. Optimizing both on-page and off-page content so that a site can appear in the quick answers section will become more and more important to attracting traffic from Google. In addition to having rich and easily digestible content, sites will also need to be mobile optimized if they hope to land a spot in the coveted quick answers box.
5. Google's RankBrain
A part of Google's overall site-ranking algorithm, RankBrain is an individual algorithm designed to bring the power of machine-based artificial intelligence (AI) to the search process. According to early reports, RankBrain is designed to use AI to better understand search queries. For web designers, this means that clear, high-quality content from which RankBrain can quickly draw essential information is more important than ever.
6. Engagement Metrics
Web pros who study how on-page engagement affects search results are finding that user-driven metrics are increasingly important in securing high Google rankings. This means that tracking engagement metrics and improving the overall user experience on a website are becoming more important to high search rankings. In 2017, keeping website visitors engaged and getting them to visit time and again will likely become important factors in ranking algorithms.
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