By John Lincoln
If you want to see success in SEO this year, you better follow the emerging trends. Here are some of the hottest SEO strategies I think you can expect to see in 2017, based on my experience working with clients and reviewing over 100 website analytics.
- AMP Will Become More Popular: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) loads web pages on mobile platforms in lightning-fast time. Google loves that technology and so should you. When we switched out website to AMP, we saw a lift in traffic of 30 percent. We have seen similar results for clients as well.
- Backlinks Will Become Less Popular: We’ve already seen evidence that backlinks are losing strength. That trend is likely to continue. Expect relevant content to gain strength, and backlinks to lose out. Based on recent studies and trends, we are seeing that links are about 10 percent less important than they used to be. We expect this to decline by another 10 percent by the end of the year. Artificial intelligence will bridge that gap.
- More Businesses Will Adopt AI: Artificial Intelligence (AI) gained quite a bit of steam in 2016. It’s become an important component of Google’s core offerings. Expect to see more businesses adopt self-learning technology in 2017. Our studies have shown that pages with good user metrics are showing higher in the SERPs and pages with lower metrics are losing traffic.
- Home Devices Will Start Showing Search Results: In 2017, you won’t even need a laptop or a smartphone to perform searches. You can do so with a home device like Google Home or Amazon Echo. We know that people are already searching on these home devices right now, but we do not have good data to back those searches up. That being said, I expect we will soon.
- Fresh Content Will Be King: It’s been said that content is king. Maybe it’s better to say that fresh content is king. If you want to rank highly in the SERPs in 2017, work on producing helpful content that people can’t find anywhere else. Recently, we increased a client’s Google organic traffic by over 900 percent just by adding fresh content. Longform content will also do very well.
- Social Factors Will Have More Weight: It’s already the case that social shares on a referring page are one of the top 100 ranking signals. You can expect social signals to become even stronger ranking signal this year. We are seeing some pages ranking high in Google based on social shares alone. Make sure you are active on social media. It will help with your rankings.
- Schema Will Be More Significant: Consider adding schema.org markup to your site if you haven’t already done so. It’s going to be more important in 2017 than it was in 2016. The main thing to note is it helps with rich snippets, Google knowledge graphs and artificial intelligence. These are some of the more important SEO items of the future, so align your schema strategy with your ranking goals.
- More Webmasters Will Use HTTPS: If you haven’t already implemented HTTPS on your website, 2017 is a good year to do that. You’ll not only add the benefit of enhanced security to your site, but you’ll also enjoy some SEO benefits. We are now seeing that near 50 percent of web pages on the first page of Google are on HTTPS. This is up from 30 percent just a few months ago.
- People Will Use Amazon to Search for Products: Looking for a product online? In 2017, it’s more likely that you’ll use Amazon to search for it than Google. Amazon affiliates beware: It is important you understand that you need to do rank for SEO on Amazon to do well. We have one client selling 4,000 products a day just by ranking for one keyword in Amazon.
- Voice Search Will Grow in Popularity: Home-based search devices will make it easy for people to Google their queries without typing anything. They’ll simply ask a question and get an answer. To adapt your SEO strategy, make sure your web pages answers questions in an FAQ-type format and addresses longtail searches.
- Google Will Serve More Content and Fewer Category/Product Pages: In an effort to improve user experience, expect Google to include more content and fewer category/product pages in their search results. Based on our analysis, we are seeing about 10 percent more article-type content in Google as opposed to category and product pages.
- Mobile Will Become More Important: Later this year, Google is launching the mobile-first update. They currently rank pages based on desktop-first. But this is going to change. If your site is not mobile ready, make it. Otherwise, you will lose a lot of traffic.
- International SEO Will Grow in Popularity: It’s a global economy. That’s why strategists who specialize in international and multilingual SEO will do just fine in the new year. Focus on getting ranked in different language and country versions of Google. It will pay off.
- Better Design Rules: Google is all about user experience. Expect sites that have a friendly user interface to rank higher than competitors with poor design. Make this a focus.
John Lincoln is CEO of Ignite Visibility and author of “Digital Influencer, A Guide to Achieving Influencer Status Online.”